In my last post we covered how to create a strong LinkedIn profile (click here to see that post). I’ll now look at several ways to add LinkedIn connections. If you are already a regular LinkedIn user, you may know some of this information. That said, LinkedIn becomes exponentially more powerful as you add LinkedIn connections, so it’s not a bad idea to periodically use these methods to expand your network. LinkedIn is pretty user-friendly, so many of these methods are easy to figure out. If you have trouble, visit LinkedIn’s help page for great video tutorials, walkthroughs, and Q&A. Here are some of the main tools to add LinkedIn connections:

1) “Connect” and “Add Connections” Buttons — when you visit someone’s LinkedIn profile and you are not connected, the “Connect” button allows you to send them a request to become first degree contacts. The “Add Connections” button can be found on your own LinkedIn home page and it allows you to enter an email address which sends an invitation to that person to connect with you. FYI – LinkedIn frowns on blindly sending connection requests to people whom you don’t know. More on how to handle LinkedIn and connection etiquette later…

2) Sync Contacts — you can also import contacts from major email services like Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. If you click the “Add Connections” button on your home page, you’ll be able to enter your email type, username and password, and bulk import your contact database and send invitations to those people. It’s a quick and easy way to add a lot of connections very quickly.

3) “People You May Know” — on your LinkedIn home page, over on the right hand side you’ll see a section called People You May Know. This section is often overlooked by a lot of LinkedIn users, but it’s a handy way to add LinkedIn connections. The LinkedIn software finds a list of people who it assumes you may know based on shared connections, groups, interests, etc. Again, LinkedIn discourages people from blindly trying to connect with people. I often find people in here that I’ve lost touch with over time, have recently joined LinkedIn, old classmates, etc.

4) Introductions — as you peruse LinkedIn, if you come across a 2nd degree connection whom you’d like to connect with, you can send an introduction request to a contact person you share in common. You just have to click the “Get Introduced” button, pick the shared contact whom you’d like to make the introduction, and craft a message to both parties explaining the purpose of the connection request. We will cover more on how to craft LinkedIn messages in a future post.

5) Groups — groups are a huge part of LinkedIn. In short, they are closed communities that are focused around a specific area. Groups are a great way to add LinkedIn connections. It’s generally recommended that you join lots of groups that cover your professional area of interest, and participate actively in discussions in the group. You’ll be engaging with people in your space and be able to add many connections as a result.

6) Inmails — inmails are LinkedIn’s version of email within their platform. Inmails are an upgraded feature which you can purchase if you have a free account, or are given in small blocks to users with paid accounts. If you plan to network a lot on LinkedIn, a paid account is definitely worth looking into! Inmails allow the user to send a message to another LinkedIn user to whom they don’t have contact information. We will cover how to craft high quality inmail messages in a future post.

One last note on how to add LinkedIn connections — there are a couple of schools of thought on who you should add to your connections. One school of thought advocates “ADD EVERYBODY! THE MORE THE MERRIER!” Another approach is to only add people for whom you have some type of current/prior relationship. I suggest something in between. As you are building your network and have, say, less than 500 contacts you can add people pretty liberally. The more first degree contacts you have, the easier it is to get to second and third degree contacts you’ll want to meet. As your network grows to 500-1000+, you can become a lot more selective about who you add. If your network becomes too large, it can become difficult to manage and the quality of the contacts you have can be a bit diluted. Of course, it’s up to you and in the end and I’d ultimately recommend doing what works for you!