The Bare Essentials of LinkedIn-Style Networking
To boost the number of LinkedIn network contacts, make sure you’re fully using all your network-building options. To see what those options are, click on the Add Connections link at the top-right corner of your LinkedIn profile. When you do, you’ll see the following network-building options:
See Who You Already Know: You can import e-mail addresses from your e-mail clients, such as Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, or AOL, and invite your contacts to connect on LinkedIn. If you use a desktop e-mail client such as Outlook, you can upload a contacts file. Click on the Import Your Desktop Email Contacts link to upload the file into LinkedIn.
The contacts who already have a LinkedIn account have a small blue LI icon next to their name. Be sure to add these contacts to your connections because they have networks that you can leverage.
Colleagues: This tab looks at your profile data and shows you other LinkedIn members who work(ed) at the companies you indicated in your Experience section. Scroll through these lists and add anyone whose name you recognize.
*Classmates: This tab offers the same functionality as Colleagues but is based on the schools you indicated on your profile. You can even sort by graduation year to find your classmates.
People You May Know: This tab is an extension of the box you see when you first log in to LinkedIn. Based on your network, experience, and interests, LinkedIn makes a guess on other members you may know. If you know them, send them an invite.
After you get home from an in-person networking event, professional meeting, or conference, sort through all those business cards you collected and add everyone to your LinkedIn network. Be sure to personalize the invitation message and remind people how you met and what you discussed.