Connecting On LinkedIn Has Its Privileges. Here Are Four Of Them.

One is obvious, the other three less so. But the more you use LinkedIn, the more the “less so” ones become important.

When you are connected to someone on LinkedIn:

  • You can send each other messages directly over LinkedIn. This doesn’t replace email, the phone or whatever messaging system you use, but it does come in handy for LinkedIn-centric messages such as referencing someone you know mutually on LinkedIn, or drawing their attention to someone or something of interest on LinkedIn.
  • You have visibility into your connection’s actions on LinkedIn – you will be notified when they do things such as posting or commenting, sharing or liking someone else’s post. Once again, the same notifications apply in reverse – they will have a window into what you are doing on LinkedIn. By default you are considered part of each other’s network on LinkedIn, and connections see what the other connections in their network are up to.
  • You rank higher in your connection’s search results on LinkedIn. As LinkedIn is one huge database full of people, an obvious application is to use that database for searches – for suppliers, vendors, prospects, experts, new staff, information, discussions on specific topics …anything. And one of the things you will find is that LinkedIn wants search results to be relevant to the searcher, and if one or more of their connections get found in the search, LinkedIn will tend to list them at or near the top of the search results. If you are searching for a WordPress expert, it makes sense for LinkedIn to list WordPress experts you are already connected with first.

So if one of your connections looks for someone in your field, you are going to appear high in the search results. This is why it is a good idea to connect with prospects. This may seem a little odd, I mean, who would forget you and what you are good at? Why would a search be needed? The answer is actually quite simple. Some people amass huge networks of connections on LinkedIn – two thousand, five thousand or more. It is pretty easy to forget people when you have that many in your “connection rolodex.”

This happens to me often – I have a large network and I will be asked something like, “Bruce, do you know anyone who works at Goldman Sachs?” Often it is a skill, profession or company I am not as familiar with and I really don’t know what I am going to turn up (I picked the company name at random, but it turns out I do know someone at Goldman Sachs).

  • Connections show pathways to other people on LinkedIn that you didn’t know exist. You may find a prospect on LinkedIn and see the little “2nd” postscript after their name and then the person or people both you and that person are connected with on LinkedIn. You can use this information in two ways. The first is to name drop the mutual connection’s name in a message or invitation to connect, which implies you are worth connecting with too. To be fair, this is the easy thing to do, which makes it the thing most people do, but it’s a pretty weak approach. The second – and better – use is to use that mutual connection or one of your mutual connections as an intermediary, and ask them to introduce you to the person of interest to you. Alternatively, you can ask if you can use them as a referral, or even just ask them for information that can help you with on this person you are interested in.

Any tool that provides pathways and ways of contacting prospects, suppliers and vendors, experts, or prospective partners is a good thing. Any tool that allows you to build thousands of pathways is a powerful thing.

Direct messaging, notifications, search result prominence, pathways to prospects. Being connected means a lot more than you probably think it does. Start taking advantage of the privileges you have been given.

Obligatory boilerplate: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. But I was an early subscriber to Sales Navigator and have a grandfathered subscription where I pay a lot less than I should. Don’t tell LinkedIn. Thanks.

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