One of the biggest mistakes people make after joining Xing or LinkedIn is sitting back and waiting for something to happen. Any form of networking whether offline or online, needs you to be pro-active to grow your network. This is a sales and marketing tool that you should invest a small amount of time every day to develop. You only get out of it what you put into it.
Here are my top 10 ways to grow your Xing and LinkedIn network:
1. Take out your business card collection. Go through each one and do a quick search on Xing and LinkedIn, and if you find them there, send them an invite using the relevant page. Make sure you personalize the emails to potential contacts. There is nothing worse than boring template emails.
2. Think of people you have worked with during your career, and if you can find them, link to them. They may have gone to the same school, college or university, or you may have worked with them at current or previous organizations. You will be surprised at how many of these people are on Xing or LinkedIn.
3. Do not accept every request immediately. There should be a value in your connections or you are simply ‘collecting names’ to look popular. However, each time you get a request that you don’t know personally or have not been introduced to, archive it for later but don’t turn it down straight away. You never know!
4. Each time you think of people you haven’t yet linked to write them down somewhere safe. Next time you are online, go searching on Xing and LinkedIn and as before, when you find them, link to them. It is also a great way of finding what people have been up to since you last met.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask current colleagues, ex-colleagues, business partners etc for recommendations on LinkedIn. They do help in building your profile further, but my advice is to only seek recommendations from people that you would recommend yourself.
6. Regularly go through the connections of all your first level contacts. They are also expanding their networks, and it is likely you will find mutual contacts that you will be able to link to.
7. Upgrade to premium membership. On Xing this is very a powerful tool and not at all expensive. When searching for prospects they will see you have viewed their profile, which almost always prompts them to take a return look at your profile. Just make sure your profile is up to date, relevant to their industry, well presented and with a link to a good website (such as www.tfpdeutschland.de). It’s powerful stuff!
8. The Advanced Search is key to getting the most out of Xing, get used to using it – you will reap the benefits.
9. Be aware that people you have met offline will most probably look you up on Xing or LinkedIn too. Just make sure your profile is up to date, relevant to their industry, well presented…. you get the picture!
10. Join relevant Xing or LinkedIn business clubs/networks in your area, but make sure you actively participate online and offline. Most of these networks are based around actual organizations that hold events that you can attend and as an online member you will feel more involved.
Xing and LinkedIn are great business tools, which I recommend. Use it as a regular high quality source of prospective clients and contacts. A contact on Xing or LinkedIn is someone that is looking to network – it is permission to be contacted – and it doesn’t get better than that!