Each week I get 5-15 requests to connect with someone on LinkedIn. In almost every instance, the only commonality is we work in health or wellness. That’s not enough to make a meaningful connection.
Of course if your goal is bragging rights for how many connections you can amass, keep them coming. But if you want to create a network that offers definite value, get ready to do some actual work. Here’s how:
- Research to find something real you have in common with the person. Then approach them with something specific: I see you’re connected to Jane Doe and you work in corporate wellness as I do. Jane has been a mentor of mine and has helped me with XYZ. She mentioned I should try to learn about your experience with LMOP — would you be available for a quick call early next week? A message like that will quickly separate you from all the “wanna connect” messages people send every day. After your call, a follow-up note with an invitation to connect is more likely to get a positive response.
- Meet in person when you can. If someone you want to meet is on another floor, a LinkedIn request is kind of silly. Do your homework as above and send a note with an invitation to take a walking break together or have lunch.
- Offer something tangible. Again, if you’ve done your research, there’s almost always something you can offer at your first meeting. I really enjoy analyzing survey results; if you ever need another perspective on the employee survey, I’d love to help.
- Don’t ask for a favor (for a very long time, if ever). Well cultivated networks have a way of creating opportunities that bubble up spontaneously. If you turn around and ask a favor right away with a new connection, they’re likely to distance themselves rather than be on the alert for ways to help you. If there comes a time that you can truly use the help, they’re more likely to respond favorably if you’ve given rather than received up to this point.
Last year, about 20% of Health Enhancement Systems revenues came from direct connections our management team has made over the years where we’ve never asked a favor but always offered specific help. Over the course of a career, a robust, engaged network can make a huge difference in your accomplishments, income, and satisfaction.