LinkedIn is the professional networker’s choice. It’s the business users social media site. And business is all about people.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your career, connect with potential clients, or just develop your professional skills by connecting with others in your industry, LinkedIn is an ideal tool.
How can you make sure you’ve got the best possible LinkedIn network?
1. Get the Basics Right
Even if you’ve done all this, if it’s a long time since you updated your profile, then it’s time for a change! Switch up your photo or your headline. Why? Because LinkedIn places a premium on fresh profiles, so you’ll be given pride of place in search results.
2. Post Updates Frequently
When you log into LinkedIn, do you see updates from the same set of people every time? There’s a reason for that. Not many people make the effort to post regular updates on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn might seem like a ghost town, but the truth is that pretty much half of LinkedIn users log in on a regular basis. According to Pew Research, over a third (34%) of LinkedIn users log into the network at least once a week. A further 13% sign in every day.
That’s why posting regular updates is so powerful. You’ll appear on the newsfeed of your contacts, which is a subtle way of building influence.
Of course, as with all social networks, some of your updates will get more attention than others. But posting frequent updates is a far better way of standing out than staying silent.
Stuck for ideas? You could share:
- A quote for the day
- YouTube videos you found helpful
- News items that are relevant to your industry
- Important announcements about your company
- Updates about your work achievements
- Business articles you’ve read and found interesting
3. Invite Your Email Contacts to Connect
LinkedIn gives you the option to import connections from your email list, whether you use Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook.
Why connect with people you already know? First, because a power network is made up of people who know and trust you. Your email contacts are likely to fall into this category. Second, inviting someone to join your LinkedIn network establishes that you want a professional relationship with them. Your family and friends can help you uncover hidden career and business opportunities. Third, with your email “acquaintances” you’ll be establishing a new form of contact, and indicating that you want to stay in touch.
Another benefit is that growing your network will help LinkedIn get smarter at suggesting people for you to connect with. When you work on growing your network, it’s easier to keep it growing.
4. Be Discerning in Who You Connect With
A LinkedIn power network isn’t made up of any Tom, Dick and Harry (or any Jane, June and Jacinda). As we’ve mentioned, creating a power network is about connecting with people you know and trust.
Focus your LinkedIn networking on people you’ve met in real life. And whenever you meet new people at conferences or exhibitions, ask if you can add them to your LinkedIn network.
That’s not to say you should ignore invitations to connect from people you don’t know. Instead, look at their profile. Do they…
- Have a profile picture? If so, that’s a good sign they’re an active and serious LinkedIn user.
- Have over 50 connections? Again, this shows they’re active on LinkedIn, and so they’re potentially a valuable addition to your network.
- Work in an industry that’s relevant to yours? Or in a sector you’d like to move into?
If you’re not sure on whether to connect, we recommend accepting the invitation. Then, drop them a line. Thank them for adding you as a connection, and ask about how they came across you. No response? You can delete them from your connections list. Many people will have a good explanation for connecting with you, and you will have kicked off a new relationship.
5. Write Personalized Invitations to Connect
Want to improve your success rate when you reach out to new connections? A simple way of doing this is to write personalized invitations to connect.
A personalized invitation doesn’t have to be long or complicated. In fact, it’s better to be short and to the point.
An effective personalized invitation will:
- Explain how you know the person you’re connecting with
- Let them know why you want to connect
- Ask if they’d like to connect
You can do both of these in one or two short sentences.
For example, you could say:
“It’s been great working with you on [project]”
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you in [LinkedIn Group]”
Then conclude with:
“Would you like to connect on LinkedIn?”
6. Take Part in LinkedIn Groups
Once you’ve added everyone in your real life network to your list of LinkedIn contacts, are you done? That’s up to you. It all depends on your goals and how you need your network to help you.
We’d recommend that you continue to reach out to new people, so your network keeps growing. LinkedIn provides tools to help you with this, the most powerful of which is LinkedIn Groups.
On LinkedIn, you’ll find groups covering pretty much anything. Whatever your job, and whatever industry you work in (provided it’s legal!), there’s likely to be a group for you. If there’s not, you can start one.
When you’re looking for groups to join:
- Know who you want to connect with. For example, if you’re looking for clients, then groups that only connect you with your peers are unlikely to be helpful.
- Choose carefully. Searching for a group will likely turn up hundreds of results. Look through them, and notice the groups that have active discussions. These are the best groups to join.
- Join the groups you like the look of. This allows you to get a feel for a group, and find out whether it’s right for you. You can join a maximum of 50 groups, but you can always leave a group to sign up for another group.
What’s your approach to building a LinkedIn network? Are you an open networker who will connect with anyone? Or are you more discerning in your networking approach? What are your top tips on LinkedIn networking? Let us know in the comments, below.