Expand Your Network in 15 Minutes – for FREE!

December 17, 2010

What do you do with business cards received at networking events or in the course of a day’s work?  I’m sure there are a lot of folks who take them back to their office, put the cards in a desk drawer and never touch them again.  Fight the urge to just set those cards aside! Instead, try leveraging the fact that you personally connected with someone and use the cards to expand your online network.  Its really quite simple!

  1. Gather that stack off cards and open your LinkedIn account.
  2. Check to see if your new contact has a profile on the site (just enter their name in the search field).
  3. If they have a profile, click the link to ‘add them to your network’ (if they don’t participate just add their info to your email contact list/or address book). You’ll need the email address of your new contact to make the connection, found on their business card.
  4. LinkedIn uses a non-personal ‘note’ that goes with each invitation to connect; delete that text and add something personal like “great to meet you this morning at the chamber breakfast, I’d like to stay connected with you here on LinkedIn” or “thanks for the great information you presented at the conference…lets stay connected here on LinkedIn.” It doesn’t have to be a long, wordy message — just something to help refresh their memory about how you met.
  5. When you are officially ‘connected’ you can recycle the cards.  Your desk will be cleaner AND you will have a larger network of contacts – its all good!

Repeat steps 2-5 until you have worked through that stack of cards and successfully expanded your online network.  Don’t forget to update your status every week or so to keep them engaged in your company.  Providing recommendations to those you have actually done business with is also appreciated.

Note: I do not recommend linking Twitter feeds to your LinkedIn account – if contacts want to follow your business on Twitter they would have signed up already (or will soon seek out that method).  Perhaps they prefer to keep in touch, but not on a hourly/daily basis. Using LinkedIn or Facebook like Twitter can lead to dropped contacts.

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