I originally wrote this in April 2008 and posted it to my personal blog on http://htcresearch.blogspot.comOK I've been getting a ton of people asking me how I built my network on Linkedin up to 4200+. I thought I would share some of my secrets on how I'm getting so many (which is relative) invites (about 100-150 per week). Though I didn't realize they were secrets.

So here's my basic routine.

I started a group on Linkedin called CPD-Candidate Pipeline Development (TM) http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/44169/3ED8F804D9C7
This is linked to the HTC Research Blog located here http://htcresearch.blogspot.com which doesn't have that many readers as I'm not a prolific blogger but this get's me approx 30 requests per day M-F and about 10 per day on Sat and Sunday. Every request I send an email to thanking them for joining the group and recommending that they connect by sending me an invite. Of the 170 requests per week I'm getting about a 70%-80% positive response rate and those that don't send me an invite it's usually because they are out of invites so they ask me to send one to them, which I do.

I recommend either starting a blog on a free blogging site or a web site on Ning.com and adding some content focused around the group you want to start. You can't/shouldn't just start a group for the sake of starting a group to get more connections. My opinion is you have to add value, so keep that in mind.

I joined other groups. This suggestion came from Steve Burda who I think has over 10K first level connections.
I'm joined up to a lot of groups (about 300+)and I try to add something to each group I've joined. I may not read or post every month to every group but I do make an effort. I estimate I get about 10 invites a day (tough to track) from group member invites. I'm basing this on what people say in their invite requests such as "Hey Jeff saw you just joined the ____group and I'de like to connect"

I utilize the Q&A section appropriately.
Ask relevant questions not transparent ones!

A relevant question is a serious question that you really need the answer to. For example we are putting together a training DVD and I needed some legal advice so I would know the right questions to ask an attorney before spending the $250 per hour or whatever so I asked a specific question to the Legal group and of course I mentioned I was an open networker and here's my email address. Or I had a specific question about content delivery and what format people would prefer, web, dvd, cd etc or we're looking at moving our blog site from blogspot to a different service so I wanted some advice on that. All legit reasons and questions I actually needed the answers to and the people who answered were really quite helpful.

A transparent question is one that was specifically posted to promote you or your company. It's one where it is so blatantly obvious that the only reason you posted it was to advertise something. Personally, I've chosen to just ignore those types of questions and they range from; "What is the meaning of life?" or "What's your favorite season and Why?" to "Are strawberries the only fruit with seeds on the outside?" I used to hit my head against the wall every time I saw a question like this but I was getting too many lumps.:-)

Answer questions.
I find it easier to ask relavent questions rather than answering them and I've found that I get more invites when asking rather than answering.
A) you can ask a question on just about any topic and make it legit and relavent.
b) very tough to answer a question where you don't know squat and make it legit and self promoting.

Asking and answering questions also helps me build my blog site. It gets my creative writing juices going and if I find a question particulary interesting I sometimes choose to write a response to myself to see what my actual thoughts are. Sometimes I post to my bog site, sometimes I just hit delete. What the heck, it's only digital ink and paper it's not like I killed a tree or something.

I highly recommend joing the following three immediately (and sending me an invite)
Invite Me Network

NEXT talk with other Top networkers and ask them what they did. I'm all about ease and automation, I'm not about to slog through hundreds, thousand of names on Linkedin to find the ones that are open networkers, have a valid email address in their profile and are not already on my first level. Nothing, in my mind could be more tedious! I've got better things to do as I'm trying to run a Research firm in my spare time while not building a Linkedin network ;-) Seriously though I spend about 5 hours a week on Linkedin and the benefits have been enormous. So thanks Linkedin!

I have 4-5 more things I do but this post is getting long and I've got stuff to do so I'll post more later.

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