LinkedInHappy Saturday! Do you have fun weekend plans?

Me, I’m getting ready to head to Antigua tomorrow (if you’ve been reading my blog regularly you know all about that). Super-excited!

So: LinkedIn. 

It’s *the* business social network to have a presence on, right? Right. And it’s where you can grow your business connections in a way that simply wasn’t possible even just a couple of decades ago.

But LinkedIn has a Reddit problem (I’m trademarking that!) because of how many trolls, spammers, and sheer nasty people skulk its darkened corridors.

Which makes many *real* people (cough *me* cough) pretty wary of either sending or accepting connection requests. B/c you never know when you’re going to get hit up for a job by a total stranger … or a death threat (yes, that happened). 

Here is how you get around that. Rapportive.

Rapportive, for those of you not yet in the know, is a nifty plugin for Gmail. Once installed, any time you get an email from someone (or send one), it will pull up their company info and – get this – LinkedIn + social info as well.

It worked so well that it was acquired by LinkedIn a few years ago. Surprisingly, it didn’t go the way of the dodo, for which I was deeply grateful.

Now, you might be saying, “Oh, Shonali, I already have Rapportive. Tell me something new.”

OK, then. Here it is.

You already have Rapportive. I get it. W00t! But are you really using it as well as you could?

Because simply using it to send people connection requests without any context is almost as bad as sending them connection requests directly on LinkedIn without any context.

So here are two ways to get around that, and make connections that count:

1. When you are included on an email with a bunch of people, hover over their email addresses.

Rapportive will pull up their profiles, and then you can click through to LinkedIn to learn more about them. It will even automatically SWITCH profiles if you mouse over a DIFFERENT email address.

How cool is that?!

So that’s one way of using it smartly to learn more about people you’re already in the same “universe” as … and then, of course, you have to be smart about how you actually connect with them.

Which brings me to tip #2.

2. Not before, but AFTER you have had a reason to talk to someone you want to get to know, THEN hit the “connect on LinkedIn” button like you see in my screen grab above.

Especially if you do this a few minutes/hours after an intro call & thank you email (TY emails are VERY important!), you don’t even have to customize the actual invite all that much.

I usually just say something like, “Hi <First Name>!” Seriously. That’s it. 

Because, think about it: they’ve just spoken to me (touch point #1), I just emailed a “thank you” note (touch point #2) – so they know very well who I am. Which makes it much more likely that they will accept my connection request. And now we have a REAL connection, as opposed to random LinkedIn spam.

And real relationships is where people – and business – are at.

Have a super weekend!