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People like to connect with others, especially recruiters who continually look for new ways to connect with new people every day.  This is so often done by just clicking the “Friend Request” or “Connect” button and waiting for them to come to you.  Doing this creates an empty network. It will seldom be helpful to you in more ways than increasing the amount of people you can potentially add to your black hole of friends.  When your goal is to create a killer network, how do you take those quick clicks and transform them into lasting relationships?

Show you care.  This can be done in ways such as liking an update or sending a message, as long as you are strategic and thoughtful in your communication strategy.  If you are going to like something on an individual’s page, be sure that it is something that they posted themselves.  You want to show that you are interested in their voice.  Leave a comment as well to strengthen the message that you value what they have to say and share similar interests.  Sending a private or direct message is another great way to build a more personal, deeper relationship with your new connection, just try not to make it all about business.  As individuals, we are deeper than just our job titles.  We have families, interests, hobbies – all topics that can help you forge a stronger relationship.

Be responsive. When your new connections decide that they are also interested in learning more about you by responding to your comment or post, be sure to respond.  These are great conversation starters that can grow into longer, more meaningful conversations.

Don’t come on too strong.  Just like romantic relationships, you do not want to be overbearing or come off as desperate.  Keep things simple and natural.  Your prospective candidate is a real person and knows how to detect when someone is trying to get something out of the relationship.  Sell yourself as a friend and someone they should want to partner with.  This is what will set you apart from other recruiters that are simply trying to gain connections to build their own networks or gain something in return.

Value your current relationships.  While you work on creating new, sustainable relationships, make sure you are still being attentive to the connections you already have.  This can be done in the same ways that you are building new relationships – comments, likes, messages, etc.  Remember that these people hold value and will more than likely vouch for you as a good individual to do business with.  Your active public dialogue with them will also show your new connects the type of communicator you are and that you are looking for more than just another number added to your “friends list.”

Remain true to yourself and who you are.  Being authentic and real will sell you as someone your new connect should want to get to know.  If you aren’t in agreement with something that is posted, be tactful and professional, but offer your viewpoint up as a suggestion for another way of thinking.  This will show you are invested in their goals and what is important to them, while also opening up the potential for further dialogue.  In these conversations, you will gain insight into what sort of challenges your new friend is dealing with in their professional life.  Your opinion could very well be the key to opening up a new way of looking at the potential solutions, increasing your value to them.

Invest your time.  If you are trying to create a relationship with a potential candidate or build a stronger pipeline, you will need to sacrifice some time every day.  This can be as easy as dedicating five minutes every day to building your relationships.  With your current number of connect, you can develop all of your forgotten “friends” into true professional relationships in less than six months, assuming your friends list is under 1000 people. This is not a daunting task, considering most of us have access to our social networks via email and apps.

A good relationship is not grown overnight, but with the right intentions and dedication, you will see your connections as a list of partners.  Within your new partnerships are your next candidates as well as individuals who can refer new prospects.  By growing your network the right way, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to cultivate a sustainable talent pool that will assist you now and in the future.

By Amanda Cunningham | People Science Talent Advisor