Maybe you’re in business looking to forge new relationships. Maybe you’re a jobseeker anxious to secure a fast-track career move. Whatever your situation, we will share 3 tactics you can put into practice today to build relevant social media connections. Success here is built on the foundations of finding relevant people to build relationships with – and hopefully finding ways of engaging with them that do not require you to spend money.
Let us share with you a tactic that will allow you to directly contact the majority of LinkedIn users, regardless of whether or not they are connected to you.
Most recruiters are aware of this shortcut, but we find that in other sectors it’s a little-known trick that can be put to great effect.
Usually when you want to contact someone outside your network, you have to pay to send an InMail right? But did you know that for anyone who is in the same LinkedIn group as you, you are able to send a message to them directly for free? And that by proactively joining groups you can make more and more connections this way, targeting exactly the people you would like to be connected to?
Unsurprisingly LinkedIn don’t go out of their way to make this apparent to the casual user. After all, they want you to pay for a subscription! So when you go to the profile page of someone who is in the same group as you, you will NOT be presented with the option of sending them a free message. Rather you’ll be prompted to send them an InMail (ie. you’ll be taken down the path of paying for a subscription).
However, if you go to the group you share with that individual – and search for them as a member of that group – then you will be presented with the option to send them a message. This goes straight to their inbox, the same as an InMail, yet costs you nothing. Plus – as an added bonus – we tend to find that those members who have taken the time to join groups are likely to be the more active LinkedIn users – and so are the most likely to see and respond to messages you send them (be they free or paid). So they’re also the most worthwhile people to try and contact.
Now we can’t say whether it’s intentional or not, but the LinkedIn interface appears to do its utmost to stop you from discovering the extent of your free reach on the site. There’s a way around this though that opens up the site for you to fully exploit….
When you conduct a regular people search on LinkedIn, the search results page will only highlight that you have a shared group with someone if that is the ONLY means of connection you have to them. If someone is a 2nd degree contact, they will appear as such in the search results, but the fact that you share a common group will not be flagged. Yet the fact that you have a shared group means you can contact them for nothing!
The way around this is to click the “Advanced” link next to the people search box. This will bring up a range of search options, one of which is to limit your search results only to Group members – ie. those LinkedIn users who share a group with you. Now every single person returned in searches you conduct with this box ticked is contactable by you for free. Simply click to view each person’s profile and below the screen showing how people in your network connect you to that person, you’ll also see a list of groups you share with that person.
Click on any of those shared groups and from within that group you can then search for that person’s name. In the search results returned within the group, you will see you can click “send message” to any member of that group who has not disabled the feature (and the overwhelming majority leave this option turned on)
Now keep in mind that you may be a member of up to 50 LinkedIn Groups at once (and join subgroups in addition to this limit of 50 if desired). Being a member of that many groups could easily mean you’re able to make direct contact with half a million targeted LinkedIn members – for absolutely no cost asides from your time.
The final part of the puzzle – for those looking to forge new business or employment relationships – is to then proactively join groups that will allow you to contact people you would like to directly contact.
If you now conduct a regular LinkedIn search (no longer restricting search results to people who share a group with you), click through to the profiles of anyone you would like to contact. Since the default setting on LinkedIn is for members to show on their profile the groups they are a member of, most people you’ll be able to see at a glance the groups they have joined. Click any of these and you will then have the option to join the group yourself (provided you have not already exceeded the 50 groups limit). Once a member of that shared group, the person you previously could not contact for free on LinkedIn you are now able to send a message through to them at no cost – ie. without the need for a paid LinkedIn subscription.
For the job-seekers amongst you, you can hopefully see how this opens the door for you to be able to proactively reach out to recruiting contacts within companies you would like to target. For those in business development, the same approach also holds true.
In Parts II and III this coming week we’ll be sharing how to build laser-focused relevant social media connections using Twitter and using your email inbox. For now we hope Part I has opened your eyes to new possibilities just waiting to be exploited on LinkedIn.
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