After having undergone some training and having engaged in some conversations with knowledgeable people, I'm changing how I use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great professional networking and social media tool on the Internet.
I used to try to connect with everyone I know or have known. Of course, when you're just beginning to build your professional network, it's great strategy to start with who you already know and with former coworkers. However, it can quickly grow limiting. For example, given that I'd lived in Boston for 30 years and that I now live in Baltimore, my connections became heavily slanted toward friendships, people in my former field of technical writing, and people who lived very far away from me. This is not particularly useful to me at this point in my professional life as a Life & Career Coach.
Now, I'm trying to be more strategic with my networking, and I'm trying to build up my Baltimore connections. One technique that I'm using is to seek out mutual connections between people with whom I'm already connected and those in the Health & Wellness field. The idea is that fellow professionals in that field might be able to do business together by cross referring.
Here's another simple adjustment that made a world of difference. When LinkedIn gives you a list of people with whom you might like to connect, don't skim the names for people you know. Instead, skim their JOB TITLES to see if a connection would be mutually beneficial on a professional level.
Finally, when you do request a connection, click the "pencil and paper" icon to send a personalized message. I recommend mentioning how you're connected, how you might help each other professionally, or that you're simply interested in learning more about what she or he does. A personalized message that highlights the reason for the connection will get better results than the default message, which is impersonal and gives no context for the connection.