If you're on LinkedIn, you've received a connection a request from somebody you didn’t know. What did you do?

LinkedIn recommends that you only connect with those you know well. For my first several years on the platform, I diligently followed that advice.

I used LinkedIn to connect with my co-workers, my clients, and a few people I went to college with.

The results weren't good. I received zero job offers, made no sales, and my personal brand sucked.

Connecting with only the people I knew wasn't working for me. Fortunately, I finally started to ignore that advice and began networking with new people here on LinkedIn about six years ago. 

Changing this one strategy and networking with new people on LinkedIn has led to some of my biggest wins. I can't even begin to describe here what I would have missed out on had I not opened up my network.

I'm not advocating you connect with just anyone. It's a personal decision who you let in your network. Before you know who to allow into your network, you need to understand your reason for being on LinkedIn. Is it to get a better job? Maybe you want to sell a book or course?  

Use LinkedIn to connect with new people who could provide you with value either today or down the road. When you get a connection request from someone you don't already know, take a look at their profile to see who that person is before hitting the ignore button. 

I'd encourage you to use LinkedIn to start relationships with those who can advance your reason for being on LinkedIn. The first step is to identify them.

Next, send them a connection request. Always make sure to personalize your connection request and avoid the default message. Sending the default message to someone makes it look like you are sending out mass connection requests via a list. 

Here are a few tips for sending personalized connection requests to people you don't know yet that will increase the chances of them accepting:

1. Let the person know why you think it would be a good idea to connect.

2. Reference a specific piece of their content.

3. Mention something you have in common with them.

4. Tell them who you are and provide social proof whenever possible.

5. Make sure your profile presents a strong first impression.

If you take the time to craft a thoughtful message, you will be amazed at who you can connect with on LinkedIn. But don't go for the close after connecting.

First, take the time to connect in meaningful ways on the platform before doing business. Make value-added comments on their posts that will get them to notice you.

Follow them on other social media networks and share their content with your followers.

Last, take the relationship offline and meet in the real world whenever possible. I've made a point to meet my LinkedIn connections in person when I travel to new places. The result has been deeper relationships with my network and increased opportunities.

Always remember: A potential breakthrough in your business or career is only one connection away at all times. 

Published on: Dec 8, 2017