I have compiled a list titled "The 15 Reasons Why LinkedIn Isn't Helping You Hit Your Sales Quota."

This week I'll address one of the biggest reasons why you might be falling short of your expectations -- and this applies to everyone, whether you're in sales or not.

Not Enough of the "Right" Connections

You need to have a specific strategy to proactively connect with the "right" people. This means going beyond:

social media connection

  • People who invite you to join their network
  • Individuals you've "met" in the traditional sense of the word
  • Fellow employees at your current or prior employers
  • Classmates
  • Neighbors

I'm not suggesting these people are not an important part of your network, but you need to think outside the box if you want to markedly improve your ROI.

How to Develop a LinkedIn Connections Strategy

Here are five simple steps you can take to find and connect with more of the "right" people.

1.  Find several people in your first-level network who are in each of the following categories:

  • Current or past customers
  • People who at some point influence your customers' decisions when they're buying your products or services
  • People who have recommended you to customers in the past
  • People who are industry and association leaders in your customers' industry
  • People who are currently buying from your competitors

2.  Spend some time reviewing the profiles of people in those categories, looking for similarities within the category. This could be things like:

  • Keywords
  • Titles
  • Geographic location
  • Schools attended
  • Associations to which they belong
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Past employment
  • Skills
  • Membership in LinkedIn groups

3.  Use these similarities as your search criteria when you use LinkedIn's advanced search function. For more specifics regarding this, read "Create a Targeted Prospect List on LinkedIn in Five Minutes or Less."

4.  Reach out to these folks and invite them to join your network, and always use a customized, Five-Star LinkedIn Connection Request. This is critical. Don't use your mobile device or any automatic connection button on LinkedIn, because it will probably automatically send the standard invitation. Invite people using the Connect button on their profile.

5.  Repeat these steps periodically. A good rule of thumb would be quarterly or whenever something changes in your product and service mix or in your industry or market.

Follow these steps, and you'll be on your way to growing your network not only in quantity but in quality as well.

For more tips on developing your personal connection strategy, read my article "The LinkedIn Connection Conundrum: Who Should Be In Your Network?"

Next week I'll share another one of the 15 reasons you may not be getting what you want out of your time on LinkedIn.