A question we get often is “Should I add people on LinkedIn that I don’t know?” LinkedIn states that you should only connect to people that you know well, however, if you are on LinkedIn you probably frequently get connection requests from strangers? So what tactic are they employing? Is it right? And should you be doing it too?
With many things, unfortunately there isn’t a right or wrong answer. There is however a decision you can make as to which strategy you go for, depending on your personal preference and there is a way to do that strategy well.
Strategy 1: Just add people you know.
The upside to this is you end up with an extremely personalised group of connections on LinkedIn. With this group you should easily be able to comment on posts, keep up to date with their events, and build an engaged community easier. In this strategy LinkedIn almost acts as a ‘Top Up’, we meet these connections elsewhere in life, but LinkedIn provides a great way to keep in touch and keep that Top of Mind Awareness – in a more personal way it could be argued to Twitter or Facebook. So if you are deploying this strategy it is essential that you make the most of these smaller numbers by being extremely active on LinkedIn to build those connections well.
The downside to this strategy is that it is harder to ‘grow’ your network outside of the people you already know.
Strategy 2: Add people you don’t know
Let’s flip this around and start with the downside of this strategy, if you add lots of people you don’t know, you end up with a big list of connections you don’t know that well, so your account becomes a bit ‘noisy’ and it is harder to build strong relationships with people. You also risk getting complained about by people if you deploy this strategy with the idea to Spam people with sales messages, which isn’t great for your positioning.
However, if you can do this right, adding people you don’t know can give you a growing audience and a growing awareness of your business. Which is what you really want right?
We argue that LinkedIn should be aspirational, we want to make connections not just with people we know today but with people we want to know in the future!
So how do you do it right? First start with a good LinkedIn Profile, if you are adding people you don’t know then you need to make a good first impression, so follow that article to make sure your profile is up to scratch. Your photo and headline are extremely important here, you may be judged just off that!
Next, try to connecting with people who you see some form of mutual benefit in connecting and change the personal connection message saying why you would like to connect to get across this mutual benefit. A nice thing to test here is to perhaps just be honest! Try something like: “Hi X, I see we are in the same industry and work with similar people. I’m looking to grow my contacts and would like to connect so I can find out more about you, and you can find out more about me and my business.” Honesty is sometimes the best policy!
Once you see they have accepted your invitation, DO NOT direct message them selling something, or setting up a sales meeting (see our note about spamming people earlier in this article), however you can Direct Message them to thank them for the connection, and potentially ask them an ‘honest’ open question to start the relationship building. Note: We say ‘honest’ open question, do not ask an open question relating to your product/service – that is a sales tactic people see right through and is easy to ignore.
Also, you still want to be as engaging as possible with you big audience, and a great way to do this when you have a big audience on LinkedIn is to provide great content through LinkedIn Pulse. If you can provide great value to your contacts no matter what size of audience, people are going to notice you!
Finally, use LinkedIn Tags to keep track of your connections, so you can message a group of people if something of interest comes up.
ACTION: You need to decide what strategy to implement, if you are unsure about Strategy 2, maybe give it a go for a month and see how you get on and what connections you make – you may surprise yourself!