How to Really Connect on LinkedIn

Updated on February 12, 2020.

Nearly every day, someone asks me, “What’s the best way to get started on LinkedIn?”

Most articles on this topic begin by spouting the ‘steps’ to connecting with others.

I’d like to begin even earlier in that process and talk about you.

Authenticity on Social Networks

Remember how Mom used to say, “Just be yourself and people will like you!” or “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”?

Mom was way ahead of her time.

The real question isn’t, “What’s the best way to get started on LinkedIn?”, but “What’s the best way to prepare myself to get started on LinkedIn?”

You’ve probably heard or read quite a bit about authenticity, transparency and integrity; three key elements to social media success. But can displaying these qualities actually make a difference?

Very simply, absolutely. For anyone looking to really connect on LinkedIn, here’s the starting point. LinkedIn (in fact, social media in general) is about people. Helping, sharing and connecting. If your neighbor’s lawn mower breaks down and he or she asks to borrow yours, you’d likely say yes, because the two of you have a relationship. You also inherently recognize your neighbor will return the favor, or perhaps another type of favor, if you asked. If a total stranger were to knock on your door with the same question, you’d likely say no and immediately think, “the nerve!”

Giving, Not Taking

A genuine, authentic approach to connecting with others is vital. Wrap your brain around this ‘helping’ attitude before you begin. If potential LinkedIn connections smell ‘a pitch’, you’re done before you start. No pitch should be necessary when you’re connecting on a deeper level that says, “Let me help you, just because I can.”

How can you help? Be you; be real; don’t falsify who you are. Get involved in and create stimulating, informative, and valuable discussions others can debate. Or, post your comments and thoughts more privately within groups you have joined.

As people begin to know and trust you, lead generation will begin. This is a two-fold process:

1)    As you listen to the real needs of others, you help solve their challenges.

2)    When you give help, you get help in return.

I often joke that I keep my expectations low; therefore, I’m never disappointed, but often delighted. It’s not much of a joke, because it’s true. Relationship building takes time. That connection may blow you off with a polite comment today, but may be knocking on your door tomorrow, because you’ve taken the right steps to remain top of mind.

Social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Wishing for it to move faster isn’t going to make it so. You’ve got to do the legwork required. Over time, you’ll be glad you did, as your online reputation and credibility grow.

Interact at an authentic level with everyone you meet, and watch the real magic happen.

Victoria Ipri is CEO of Modello Media, Inc., an e-marketing strategy firm based in suburban Philadelphia, PA. She welcomes your questions and comments on this forum, or contact her directly at: ModelloMedia@gmail.com

Emily Herman contributed to this post.