Have you ever had trouble getting traction on LinkedIn? Hopefully, when you initially signed up you took advantage of inviting your email contacts, but what do you do after that?
LinkedIn is a professional networking site (if you’re not familiar with it, look for more info in a couple weeks with our “Origins” series). LinkedIn has been designed differently than sites such as Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook you can send a friend request to anybody. On Twitter you can follow anybody. On LinkedIn, if you have a basic account (aka “Free”) you can’t contact any LinkedIn user directly. If you want to add them as a connection you have to pass through a filter proving that you have some type of history with them. If you lie about having an association with someone and they report it, you can be banned from the ability to add people to your network (yeah, that’s intense). See the image below for a sample of what the filter looks like:
Some people claim that this type of filtering adds more integrity to LinkedIn as a social network. This way people are less likely to have inflated numbers in regards to their connections. What do I think about that? I think that for $25, $50, or $100 a month LinkedIn will let you contact anybody! Granted, the $100 “Executive” rate only allows up to 25 contacts a month, but I think the filtering system is partially motivated as a way to make some money.
The whole concept of networking is to meet more people. With the LinkedIn filtering system, many give up on trying to use LinkedIn to connect with people. That’s why you’ll run across many profiles with 2 connections or, God forbid, 0 connections. Obviously users know more people than this. The problem is they’re used to sites like Facebook where you can just add someone and start interacting.
Aaah, but there is another way. And no, it’s not paying money to be added to a list or use special software. It’s a completely natural way to connect with a targeted audience.
Many LinkedIn members are unfamiliar with “LinkedIn Groups.” Once you sign-in, look to the top navigation bar for a tab marked “Groups.” Click on “Groups Directory.” Here you can search from thousands of topical groups on LinkedIn. Some groups are small, some have thousands, and a few have hundreds of thousands of LinkedIn users. Just type in a theme like marketing, sales, etc and browse away.
Most LinkedIn groups are fairly easy to get into. Some groups are open while others require approval from a group manager, but even those usually accept your request within a few days. I really like LinkedIn Groups and will be offering a more detailed explanation of them in a future article, but for context sake I’m going to get right to the point.
Once you’re part of the group you can view a list of all the members. Look through the list and find targeted users that you would like to network with. Once you find someone, click on their name to go to their profile and click on “Add (Insert Name) To Your Network.” Now, when you’re connection filter appears there will be a new option marked “Groups.” Click on the “Groups” button, select the shared group, hit “Send Invitation” and now you have just requested to connect with someone you previously didn’t know without any potential penalties from LinkedIn (I do believe there is a limit of adding 50 shared group members a day to your network).
Using this small tip is a very easy way to start meeting and interacting with people on LinkedIn. Again, I will share more about LinkedIn Groups and their value to you in a future article. Thanks for reading!