Network your way to a great reputation on LinkedIn®
How to build and nurture your connections for maximum impact
Up-to-date profile. Check. Snazzy photo. Check. Impressive summary. Yep. Now that you have a complete and compelling profile on LinkedIn®, it’s time to start networking. Many people take a “set it and forget it” approach to their LinkedIn profile, but that’s not harnessing the remarkable power of this virtual meeting place.
The truth is, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to grow your social reach, find content, explore opportunities and recruit talent. But like any endeavor that’s worthwhile, it takes time and effort.
There are two primary ways to network on LinkedIn: Build your network and nurture your relationships.
Build your network
Most people build and grow their network by connecting with people they know. It’s also smart to have connections to people in your sphere of expertise. A Forbes article on the topic suggests being “promiscuous in your connection strategy” in order to show up frequently in searches and see the maximum number of profiles.
Leverage second-degree connections
Once you’ve connected with someone you know, you can now connect with anyone on their list because of the second-degree relationship. Linking with appropriate second-degree folks helps expand your network and sets you up as someone who’s well-connected in your field. Rather than sending the standard “I’d like to add you to my network” request, it’s more personal and thoughtful to customize the message and explain why they should connect with you.
Here are two examples:
“I’ve seen your posts and love your perspective on things happening in our industry. I would love to connect.”
“It was great to meet you at the conference last week in Chicago. I’d like to keep the conversation going. Let’s connect.”
Get the scoop on groups
Another way to connect with movers and shakers is to use groups. Groups are one of the most powerful networking features on LinkedIn. They give you access to people who share mutual interests — thought leadership, social causes, alumni, etc. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 100 groups.
Before you start engaging in groups, it’s wise to spend some time getting to know how the group works, who’s most vocal and what content resonates. This way, when you start participating, your thoughtful responses will hit the mark and have impact. Once you join, be sure to introduce yourself and let members know a little bit about you and why you’re there.
Keep company with the right companies
Are you interested in learning more about a specific company? Want to connect with someone who can help you get your foot in the door? LinkedIn company profiles let you see if you have connections at the company, as well as its new hires, promotions, jobs posted, related companies and company statistics. Here, job seekers can research and follow potential employers and gather intelligence about a company — things crucial to a job search.
Now that you’ve built your network, the next step is to engage. Regularly interacting with your connections builds relationships. A few easy ways to do this are posting regular status updates to stay visible; liking and commenting on posts and sharing them with your connections and groups; and sharing valuable and credible content you find on the internet. For the latter, be sure to add your voice to posts by saying why you think the information is valuable and expressing your insights.
Posting relevant content often syndicates your content across home feeds everywhere. Publishing your insights and ideas in articles on your LinkedIn profile is one of the best ways to establish your personal brand and share your expertise in a given industry. If you include images in your posts, you’ll also significantly increase engagement. Visual content can increase views by 11 times. While it’s perfectly OK to end your article with a simple call-to-action, be sure to avoid a sales pitch and write on topics of value to your readers.
Another way to nurture relationships is through acknowledgment. LinkedIn provides notifications when someone you know has a birthday, a work anniversary or a new job. Consistently sending messages back with a personal note of congratulations is a way to stay on top of people in your network and show you care.
These thoughtful ideas are the finishing touches on a LinkedIn profile maximized for success. But successful profiles begin with the basics. If your profile needs some work to showcase your professional assets, take a peek at our LinkedIn profile dos and don’ts to see how to make it shine. For a little “LinkedInspiration,” check out part one of this series to see why linking your profile to this social network is a worthy investment.
By D.D. Kullman, Associate Creative Director, University of Phoenix
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