Have you ever considered the difference between networking and connecting? Because there is one. Sure, there’s definitely less than 7 degrees of separation between the two connotation-wise, but the similarities within the realm of proactive communication end there.
Professionally connecting in the digital landscape is no different than creating in-person impressions.
Would you exchange business cards with a potential client at an event and then toss that golden ticket among a growing pile of faceless, printed names? Of course not. So why join the world’s largest professional network with access to millions of members and do nothing with it?
Here are three ways you can make the impression that creates connections– and relationships.
Join groups and position yourself as a value-adder
The great thing about LinkedIn is that it’s a hub of industry influencers, leaders and innovators. When a company you follow or a connection you’d like to make posts a blog on a topic you’re familiar with, join the conversation by sharing an insightful comment or asking a thoughtful question. When you’re on the job hunt, the goal is for your targets to start recognizing your name and face.
Once you feel confident that you’re on their radar, send them a private reply expressing you really like what they contribute to the group and you would like to further the relationship.
Get on the Google grind and creep away
Google is a gift to the savvy Job-Seeker, and sometimes one simply must get stalkerish. If you don’t share a mutual connection, or can’t get someone in your network to pass along an introduction—don’t despair. There’s a wily way out of this: Start creeping (and we don’t mean this in the restraining order, illegal way—we’re talking the smart, tech-savvy, business-professional way). Did your target recently speak at a conference or publish an article? A quick Google search will let you know, and even if you didn’t physically attend the event, the internet has a sly way of recapping with cliff note versions and videos. Does the person you want to connect with write a blog? Read it and share it on your social platforms with an insightful comment. Are they on Twitter? Follow them and retweet their posts about it. Are they hanging out on Google+, YouTube, Facebook or Instagram?
You know what to do.
Connect through a contact page
Many business professionals also manage their personal brand online with portfolios and websites. The beauty of these personal portals is that they usually come with a contact page. The key is to use these doors to open lines of communication.
Remember, the thing about LinkedIn connections is that they’re there to connect. The last time we checked, the social platform had 414 million members. Don’t get lost in the crowd.