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Rapidly grow your LinkedIn network with a little personalization

Are you on LinkedIn? If not, perhaps I can convince you to create a profile and start harnessing this tremendous tool that allows you to connect with others in your industry.

First, a couple of impressive stats thanks to mashable.com.

  • LinkedIn has 161 million members worldwide and that number grows by two every second.
  • LinkedIn is the second most popular social network (behind Facebook). Twenty percent of adults use it (Pew Research study, April 2013).

Okay, so now that you see its merits, here are some tips for quickly growing your LinkedIn network.

1. Join the ABC NorCal LinkedIn group
This exclusive group is a membership benefit that allows you to access to other Northern California merit shop industry professionals. It has open posting, so members are welcome to share and discuss issues and opportunities. You can post job opportunities, ask for referrals and more.

2. Make your invitations to connect stand out.
As you send invitations to others to join your network, you can opt to use the default, “I would like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” OR you can do what very few people do and take the time to craft a personal, memorable and succinct invitation. The later will make you stand out and help you expand your network faster.

Personal
Adding a personal note to your invitation actually does more than indicate you are unique; it makes it as easy as possible for the person you would like to connect with to say yes. Think about it. If you use the default invitation mentioned above, all your potential connection has to go on is your name.

Memorable
It’s good to keep in mind that people with large networks receive a lot of LinkedIn requests.  And, inevitably they won’t recognize many of the names of the people who want to connect.

Here’s a scenario. You attend an ABC NorCal networking event and identify an incredible business opportunity with a new member. You follow up with a LinkedIn invite a couple of days later. Do you rely on the chance that he might remember your name? Or do you add a personalized note to jog his memory?

That’s right. No matter how sure you are that the people you are hoping to connect with should remember you, write a brief message reminding them how you know each other and they’ll be far more likely to accept.

But what if you have never met the person you would like to connect with? Perhaps you read his blog, follow him on Twitter, or are simply a big fan of his work?

Then most definitely include a personal note in your invitation to connect. Tell him why you would like to know and connect with him.

Here’s an example:

“Hi Bob! We haven’t met, but I have followed your “Nuts & Bolts” blog for years. Would love to join your network.” Thanks, Megan.

Yes, this does work even if you have never met or interacted with the person. If you go the extra mile to let someone know how you found him, why you love his work or simply make yourself look interesting, the person on the other end of that request will want to say yes.

Succinct
No need to agonize over what to say. You have a finite number of characters to say it, so be personal but also, short, sweet and to the point. Here are some ideas:

“Hi Sue. Enjoyed discussing the rescinded Hartnell PLA with you on Saturday. Hoping we can connect here. Thanks, Megan.”

“John, Thanks for sharing your company’s safety strategy with me. Would like to add you to my network. Thanks, Megan.”

“Hi Eric, Your recommendation to use Powerhouse, Inc. was super helpful. I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn. Thanks, Megan.”

“Hey Sam! I heard about you and your company through a friend, and I have a few ideas for how we might be able to work together. Hope to connect with you. Thanks, Megan.”

And you get the picture.

It will take you all of 30 seconds to implement these simple tips. Really and truly. You’ll stand out, increase your acceptance rate and your network will flourish.

Adapted from Alexis Grants’ article “This Simple Action Will Dramatically Grow Your LinkedIn Network.”

Megan Kilkenny is the Communications Director for ABC Northern California.