Business cards received at networking events or in the course of the day are valuable! Fight the urge to set those cards aside or hide them in your desk drawer. Instead, try leveraging the fact that you have personally connected with someone; use the cards to expand your on-line network using Linked In. It’s really quite simple.
5 Steps To Create A Bigger and Stronger Network:
1. Gather that stack of cards and open your Linked In account.
2. Check to see if your new contact has a profile on the site (just enter their name in the search field; top right corner).
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 regular 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. Linked In 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 Linked In” or “thanks for the great information you presented at the conference let’s stay connected here on Linked In”. 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 business cards. Your desk will be cleaner AND you will have a larger network of contacts – it’s all good!
Repeat steps 2-5 until you have worked through that stack of cards and successfully expanded your on-line network. Don’t forget to update your status every week or so to keep your contacts engaged in your company. Providing recommendations to those you have actually done business with also goes a long way.
By guest contributor, Patti Rowlson
Patti Rowlson is the owner of PR Consulting Services. She uses LinkedIn every day to expand and stay in touch with her network.