The LinkedIn Corp. logo is displayed on the screens of an Apple Inc. iPhone 6 and a laptop in this arranged photograph taken in London, U.K., on Friday, May, 15, 2015. Facebook Inc. reached a deal with New York Times Co. and eight other media outlets to post stories directly to the social network's mobile news feeds, as publishers strive for new ways to expand their reach. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg (Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

I think we all agree: Since LinkedIn is a business-focused social networking site, the object is to build a network of people who might do business. Refer business. Be in a position to raise my visibility by sharing my posts. Here’s how I’ve gone about it.

Statistics, Because You Want Numbers

I’ve been on LinkedIn for several years. Early on, I figured getting that “500+ connections” designation puts you into the “take this guy seriously” category. It took me forever to inch past the 500-connection threshold. As of Monday, June 29, I have 2,118 first-level connections.

Between Thursday, June 4, and Friday, June 26, I added 100 new connections. Here are some statistics:

  • Accepted my invitation to connect: 79 people
  • Invited me to connect with them: 21 people 

It’s obvious you control the invitations you send out. What about those 21 people who send me an invitation?

  • Member of same LinkedIn group: 8 people
  • No group overlap: 13 people

If you belong to active groups with lots of conversations, I’ve discovered when you message back and forth, those folks sometimes send an invitation to connect.

I’m pretty open-minded, but I don’t connect with everyone who sends an invitation. I’m highly suspicious of folks like Ukrainian bankers and Serbians in the import/export business, especially if it looks like their profile was created a few days ago and there’s almost no background information available.

How I Extend Invitations

My business involves training. I’m looking for people at specific firms in certain roles. However, the strategy is easily transferable to financial advisors, insurance agents and others looking for prospects.

Step 1: I do a LinkedIn scan. The words I include are the firm and job title. I also specify second-level connections.

Step 2: I prepare template text for the invitation. Here’s an example:

You are a branch manager at (firm). I’m a former (my old firm) financial advisor with a business providing training in HNW client acquisition. I also write articles on the topic and find LinkedIn is an efficient way to share them. We know (number) of the same people. Let’s connect via LinkedIn.

Step 3: I customize each message by adding their first name, the name of their firm and the number of shared connections. I try to focus on people where I have at least 10 shared connections.

Step 4: One day, I send out a couple of dozen invitations. A few days later, it’s a different firm and another couple of dozen. I hope the message is attention-getting for the following reasons:

  • Personalized: It uses their name.
  • Specific: It mentions their job title and firm.
  • Number of connections. “Birds of a feather.” They might call someone and ask about me. They might see a couple of familiar names and assume I’m “all right.”

Step 5: I’ve assumed they check me out, or at least access my profile page. It gets viewed 500 to 600 times on average over a rolling 90-day period. There are lots of other reasons why people might visit. Deciding if they want to connect is one of them. No action at this step. I’m waiting for results.

Step 6: I get those “accepted your invitation to connect” messages. Each morning, I “See who is new.” I send each a simple message.

“(Name), thanks for connecting. Have a good week.” 

Sometimes a conversation starts immediately: “Bryce, have a good weekend.” At the very least, I’m acknowledging they have accepted my invitation.

What Next?

Earlier, I’ve written about how I’ve been getting a 40% response rate. I try to send that “Let’s get to know each other better” message. I’ve built four lists, based on job titles. Some are managers in the industry, others are editors in the media. Each month I try to send each person a short message with a link to one of my published articles. I choose a specific one for each group I think they would find useful. Some people respond. Others don’t. It keeps me on their radar.

Each week, I post to LinkedIn. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it’s a link to one of my published articles into the continuous daily feed. Tuesdays I post to those LinkedIn groups. Thursdays I visit each group and comment on other people’s posts.

My connections might (or might not) see the post I’ve put into the daily feed. They should see the monthly message I’ve sent directly to them.

There are many things I really like about LinkedIn. I think it’s chronically underutilized. I think it still has novelty value. Everything I’ve been doing is with the basic, free membership. There’s no cost to me except my time. Your firm may have compliance rules concerning social media activity. You need to follow them. This is what’s been working for me. I think adding 100 new connections in 22 days is pretty good, especially when more than 80% are people I think are the right connections!