Monday, June 14, 2010

Cruising Your Contacts

Being a good networker means staying active with your LinkedIn connections. It's easy to become so focused on growing your connections list that you might forget the value of each connection gained along the way. And you don't usually make time to reach out to your connections until you need something. (it's okay, it happens to me, too!)

So today's LinkedIn exercise involves reviewing and reconnecting with your contacts. Ready?

1. Get out your kitchen timer and set it for 15 minutes. Then hit the button to start.

2. Log into LinkedIn. If you don't have a profile yet, visit www.linkedin.com and set up a free profile.

3. Click on the "Contacts" link at the top of your page to access your connections list. As a reminder, these are your first-level connections on LinkedIn.

4. Start reviewing your contacts from A to Z. Or, if you'd like to support those who are always forgotten, start with the "Z" list first and move forward. :)

5. Focus on those connections who you haven't spoken with or heard from in a while. The intent here isn't to contact EVERY connection, but rather to start a pattern of periodically reaching out to SOME connections. And remember, you only have 15 minutes to do this so you might only get to the "F" list (or if you're moving from the "Z" list upward, to the "S" list).

6. Just as you should with an invitation to connect, personalize your message. Don't send every person a blanket message:
"Hi Jim, hope you are doing well. Hadn't heard from you in a while and thought I'd check in to see how you've been at XYZ Company."
What's wrong with this approach? Well, if you can insert in place of "Jim" and in place of "XYZ Company" than it's not really personal.

7. Suggestions on personalizing your check-in messages:
- Start off where you last left off with this person: "when we last chatted, you were working on...(insert activity here) and I'm curious how things are going."
- Include an update of your own activity
- DON'T solicit. Especially if it's the first time you've reached out in a long time. Enough said.
- End with an offer: "If there's ever anything you need, let me know."

That's it! Your timer should be beeping away in no time and you can check off your 15-minutes on LinkedIn for today.

Brenda Meller

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