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5 Tips to Build Meaningful Connections on LinkedIn (or on Other Social Media Platforms)

I’ve been using LinkedIn since 2012 or so. Until now, LinkedIn has been the social media that one treats like one’s CV, in the hope that one could land a job/project with. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, it’s just that throughout these years, I’ve been wondering how meaningful it is in regards to the connections gained. As I built connections gradually, issues like ‘accepting invitations from random strangers vs. connecting with people one personally knows’ popped up throughout. I’ve asked LinkedIn professionals and users alike, read how-to articles and did some trial-and-error on best methods to build meaningful connections (rather than grinding connection numbers that ultimately meant nothing). I came up with these findings:

Have a profile picture that actually shows you

This is the most basic step, apart from filling in one’s profile. Having a profile picture adds credibility to your profile. I’ve seen profiles of people I personally know of that don’t have a profile picture in their LinkedIn. I still accept their invitations, on the basis that I know them personally, although it’s somewhat a turn off. Imagine if a stranger invited you to connect but you can’t see how they look in the profile. Another reason is that the profile could be a fake. You wouldn’t want to have fake profiles to be part of a meaningful connection, would you?

Connect with people you actually know

As you build your profile, start connecting with family and friends that you actually know in real life. This way you can branch out into adding mutual friends that you personally know. I’ve seen people adding connections of friends they don’t really know in real life, and that can come a bit stalkerish, however innocent the intention is. This happens even in Facebook, and most of the time there’s no introduction message on who you are and how you know them.

What if your immediate friends or family members are not on LinkedIn? In this case, it’s okay to invite people you may know or heard of in real life, but not really in a close relationship. Make sure to write an introduction message, which brings us to the next point.

Write to the person you’re connecting to

This may sound simple, but surprisingly one that many don’t do. Most often than not, people would just click on that ‘Connect’ button and assume all is well. Your invitation might be accepted, but you risk being just another connection that may not mean anything to the person. There are people who may be okay with this approach, and that’s fine. To me, it’s like going to a job fair, approach someone from a company you’re interested in and dump your CV at them without any words of introduction. If you don’t do this in real person, then the same applies online.

I appreciate people who write a personalized note explaining who they are, how they know me and that they’d like to connect, especially if they are strangers. Most often than not I’d accept the invitation. This is better than not writing anything at all. This applies especially to someone I don’t personally know, even if they're from the same country or from the same schools.

Engage with other users

As with Facebook or Instagram, one would usually react to others’ posts by means of ‘like’ or commenting the post. Same with LinkedIn, your engagement would make your profile more visible to the LinkedIn public. It could be as simple as ‘liking’ a certain post, or congratulating someone with her latest achievements. Why, you ask? This is because any posts your network reacts to will be visible to your newsfeed, even though you’re not their direct connection. It means your reaction could be seen by someone who is not part of your network (yet).

Contribute to the community

Share posts, write your thoughts. Same reason as above. This could be done through sharing articles you’re interested in and adding your thoughts to the shared article. Or you could write your own post on LinkedIn. There are people who regularly post motivational posts daily. This allowed them to contribute while engaging with other users.

These are the 5 tips to build meaningful connections in LinkedIn, but also applicable in other social media platforms. How do you connect with people on LinkedIn? Share your thoughts and best practices in the comment below.

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