The great potential on LinkedIn is that this is where people are looking to make deals and make things happen. Unfortunately, many of us get sucked into connecting with many, many contacts whom we never really come to know.

Perhaps the fastest way to grow quality relationships with new contacts on LinkedIn is by reaching out to those you connect with and find out about who they are. Now, this process is manual and may take some time, but it is time well spent and there are ways to simplify the process after the initial introduction.
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Ask If They Know A…

If you’re connection is someone in the local area, ask them if they know some type of professional that can service the great majority. By this, I mean something like an accountant or designer — everyone needs an accountant or designer at some point, so getting recommendations of good ones is a very beneficial card to have in your back pocket. The message can be short, but should have a personalized greeting and mention of what you and your contact may have in common (where you live, went to school, mutual connections, etc.) Then ask if they know any good accountants in the area… This is much more likely to begin a real dialog than a general introduction where you tell this person all about you.

Now Go Find A…

The next thing to do in becoming a go-to resource in your LinkedIn connections world, is to reach out and find some designers or accountants (see above) in the area. Reach out to both those who you might have been referred to, but also look for others. You can do this based on who you know in common, the recommendations they’ve received, etc. but now reach out to these individuals and introduce yourself. Let them know that you have some contacts that are looking for someone who does design, accounting, etc.

The reason to do this is that of those contact you reach out to, asking if they know of a good X, some will respond back saying that they don’t, but would like to know a good one themselves.

AHA! You’re a Connector

From here’s it’s pretty plain to see that you simply make introductions between the two parties. If you can do that, you’re now providing value to these new contacts, and going way beyond what any of their other unknow contacts are doing. This starts solid, legitimate relationships that may turn into something more moving forward.

Stay Tuned For Part II

Part II will go into more depth on how you can semi-automate this process, allowing you to grow this network of legitimate new relationships bigger, and effectively introducing this audience to what you have to offer, while still providing value.