Jun 17, 2020 | Clare Chiappetta
3 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Build Your Network
In-person networking events have been impacted for the rest of the year and online networking has become a more essential part of your business strategy. LinkedIn should be at the core of your virtual network.
The platform offers robust ways to learn and to connect with people pursuing the same knowledge, skills and competencies as you are, says Laurie Ruettimann, author and human resources consultant. “Building this virtual network is more about the quality of the relationships you create than the number of connections you have,” she says. To maximize LinkedIn’s potential for networking, focus on creating meaningful connections and nurturing relationships with those in your field.
Here are three tips to strengthen your LinkedIn network.
Optimize Your Profile for Networking
First, make sure your profile is accurate and compelling. “Your profile should make it clear who you are,” says Mary Ellen Slayter, CEO and owner of Rep Cap, a B2B marketing agency and LinkedIn power user.
That starts with including a recent, professional headshot. For potential employers, collaborators and clients, your photo creates their first impression of you.
Fill in your bio with enough detail that your primary skills and accomplishments are clear. “If someone gets a request from you, they should be able to tell right away what you’re about,” Slayter says.
Not sure where to start? Find examples of leaders in your industry with compelling profiles and model on their content. Don’t copy and paste profiles; other examples should only serve as inspiration.
Generate Meaningful Conversation
In the past, LinkedIn has been a social media platform to collect connections. However, LinkedIn’s new algorithm prioritizes engagement. “There’s not much value in just having a lot of connections on LinkedIn,” says Jake Jorgovan, founder of Lead Cookie, a company that specializes in Linkedin outreach. “Look at your LinkedIn as a place to build relationships and have conversations.” If you make frequent engagement a habit, you will organically grow your reach.
“Find five or six people in your field that you respect to follow,” Ruettimann says. Engage with their content and followers, but be sure you’re adding value to the conversation. Don’t spam your connections’ content with links to your blog posts. This comes across as insincere. “Say something meaningful,” Slayter says. “Don’t talk about yourself.”
A great way to engage in discussions is with your close connections. “The HR industry is insanely active on LinkedIn,” Jorgovan points out. “There’s a lot of engagement and — if you do things well — opportunities to stand out.” Once you’ve seen what people in your community are talking about, then produce content that adds to the conversation. “Create content for your news feed regularly,” Jorgovan suggests. “This keeps you top of mind with people in your network.” Post on LinkedIn at least once a week — but no more than once a day.
Joining in meaningful conversations will provide value to both you and your followers, which will lead to more networking opportunities — and grow your reach on LinkedIn.
Nurture New Relationships with Engagement
The LinkedIn algorithm prioritizes recent connections in your newsfeed. Sort through suggested connections and add people you’re interested in exchanging ideas with, Slayter suggests. Engage with your new connections early through their news feed, and this will introduce you to new audiences as well.
Additionally, use messages to introduce yourself to new connections. “There’s so much noise on LinkedIn these days that any personal outreach will help you stand out,” Jorgovan says. Make sure that your messages are meaningful, though. If you added a connection because they posted something really insightful, for example, let them know that their idea resonated with you. Never start a relationship by discussing your professional offerings. Connections are less likely to engage if they think you’re trying to sell something.
LinkedIn Learning also offers opportunities to build meaningful new relationships. While the classes are offered asynchronously, the platform includes an interactive Q&A and discussion feature that allows you to connect with both the course instructor and other users and discuss course content with them. “It creates a community within a community, a network within a network,” says Ruettimann, who is a LinkedIn Learning instructor. “While the courses are recorded in advance, instructors are encouraged to engage regularly with participants’ questions,” Ruettimann says. This allows you to connect with them on a personal level and build a network that includes experts in your field.