LinkedIn is only as powerful as you want it to be. Some people will spend hours perfecting their LinkedIn profile, only to never once use the website to find a job.
Then there are others who treat LinkedIn like a 24/7 networking event: they add coworkers, add bosses, add clients, add old babysitters and maintain healthy business relationships with everyone.
Guess which type of people are more likely to get hired the next time you’re competing for a job?
It’s true: maintaining a powerful LinkedIn network is an excellent way to get a job.
Whether you like it or not, LinkedIn isn’t going anyway any time soon. The best time to make a powerful LinkedIn network was yesterday. The second best time is right now. Without further ado, let’s look at the best ways to start building a powerful LinkedIn network starting today.
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Decide Which Type of Requests to Accept
After joining LinkedIn, you’re inevitably going to be bombarded by all sorts of requests. Sometimes you’ll work with someone once and receive a request an hour later. In other cases, an old buddy from high school might request to add you.
Your first step is to decide how selective you want to be when accepting requests.
Some people are extremely selective. They only add people on LinkedIn that they know well, have personally worked with numerous times, and have proven to be good employees or good businesspeople.
Other people are the total opposite and are completely open with their LinkedIn requests. They accept everyone because no connection is a bad connection.
“What I do for a living connects me with people every day, but I may not get to connect with them personally. I am a public speaker and am happy to connect with members of the audience. I may not know them, but they may have read one of my books or attended a presentation, so I want to continue the relationship… You may not have ever met them, but they feel as if they have met you.”
That’s one argument. The second argument – which makes sense for people who aren’t public speakers or celebrity figures, is that no connection is a bad connection. Unless you’re connecting with ISIS members on LinkedIn, or you’re adding hundreds of profiles that are obviously fake, few people are going to pay attention to the types or quality of connections you have on LinkedIn.
Having more connections enhances your visibility. LinkedIn actually takes the number of connections into account when deciding your search rankings. Your visibility is proportional to the number of connections you have.
The more first level connections you have, the more likely you are to show up in keyword searches.
Another advantage is that you can see the complete profiles of your second level connections (your “friends of friends”). When you have more connections, you have access to more full profiles. That can come in handy when researching clients, employers, or future employees.
Ultimately, most LinkedIn members have a fairly open request policy. You never know where one connection will go. There are lots of benefits to having lots of contacts, and very few downsides.
Of course, some people are perfectly happy to be a closed networker on LinkedIn. It’s just important to remember what you’re giving up with a tighter request policy.
Start Adding All the Connections You Can Think Of
Once you’ve decided on your request policy for LinkedIn, it’s time to start actually adding connections.
This can be the fun part or the agonizing part – depending on how many people you know well. Basically, your goal is to connect with anybody that may provide a networking opportunity in the future, which could include everybody you’ve previously worked with, volunteered with, traveled with, etc.
Here are some tips to help make your connection adding process go as smoothly as possible:
-Take a walk down memory lane and request people you’ve previously worked with, gone to school with, traveled with, volunteered with, etc. You can actually link your LinkedIn profile to Facebook, or to your email address, and automatically get the LinkedIn profiles of your Facebook friends or email contacts. This can make the adding process much easier and more efficient.
-Gather all your contact information together in one spot. If you’re reading this article, then I assume you’re serious about using LinkedIn. Many people use LinkedIn as their single contact management platform, which is why they add all of their email addresses in one spot so you can easily reach out to them in the future. Consider connecting your contacts’ email addresses to LinkedIn to ensure you can easily contact your connections (and they can contact you) in the future.
-Analyze the gaps in your network and determine who got left out. Who’s in your network? Who’s missing? Have you forgotten a specific job in the past? Consider taking a look at your resume or scrolling through your Facebook page to get a reminder of who you may have missed.
-Ask contacts to join LinkedIn. If you really want to create a powerful LinkedIn network and add all your contacts, then you may want to send requests to people who aren’t on LinkedIn. LinkedIn actually makes this easy to do (many people do it by accident). After connecting your email to your LinkedIn account, you can simply click “Send Request” on a connection to send them a request through email. If they sign up for LinkedIn through your request, you’ve automatically got a new connection.
-Build your network even further. Browse through LinkedIn profiles in your industry or company to find new people to add. If you add someone directly through their LinkedIn profile, then LinkedIn may ask you to verify your connection (like list which school you attended together or where you worked together). It’s a security measure. This step isn’t required when you use the search feature. Search for the name of the person with whom you want to connect, then click Connect next to their name.
-Take advantage of the LinkedIn groups feature. LinkedIn has thousands of groups for people with common interests, trades, skills, or job descriptions. Find and join groups related to you, your job, or your geographic area. Start conversations or contribute to other conversations, then start adding people with whom you have a connection. This can add some industry-specific or local benefits to your network.
-Start making LinkedIn requests a habit. LinkedIn is part of doing business in this day and age. After doing business with someone, reach out to them via LinkedIn soon after. This keeps your network complete and up-to-date. You can make this process even easier by using the LinkedIn app.
Nurture and Develop your Network
If you followed all of the steps listed above, then you now have a huge LinkedIn network filled with people you know in some way or another.
Now, it’s time to leverage that network to its full potential.
Your network has little value if you’re not interacting with your contacts on a regular basis. Of course, you probably don’t want to message people on LinkedIn every single day, either.
With that in mind, here are some tips that help you nurture and develop your LinkedIn network:
-Share Content: If you’re an expert in your field, then sharing content is a great way to show off your expertise. Share content and add your own expert commentary or opinions to the piece. Explain why that content matters to your readers, or give them inside information they wouldn’t get from other people they follow.
-Take Advantage of the LinkedIn Blogging Platform: If you want to share short content pieces, then the normal LinkedIn activity feed is fine. But if you want to post longer pieces and flesh out your opinions, then you may want to take advantage of the LinkedIn blogging platform, where you can add longer form content. If readers are interacting with your short Activity Feed posts on a regular basis, then you may be able to nurture that following even further by launching a blog.
-Engage Your Followers in Conversation: Don’t just post content and talk about yourself and your own opinions. Interact with other people and comment on their own content. People remember when you comment on their content, and they’re more likely to comment on your content in the future.
-Use the LinkedIn Connected App to Get Reminders of Important Events in Others’ Lives: The LinkedIn Connected app keeps you up-to-date on the most important milestones and anniversaries among your connections. You can receive instant alerts about birthdays, work anniversaries, promotions, and new jobs, for example. The app automatically keeps you updated on everything and gives you a more personal connection with your followers.
Ultimately, your goal in this “nurturing” phase is to keep yourself at the top of your contacts’ minds. The next time a job posting for an accountant comes up, are they going to think of you? Or are they going to think of that other accountant they have on LinkedIn who never posts, never messages them, and never wishes them happy birthday?
Promote Your LinkedIn Profile on Other Platforms
If you want to create a more powerful LinkedIn network, then you need to take full advantage of all your social media accounts.
A service like Twitter helps you broadcast your opinions and news to the entire world. That could potentially expose you to millions of people. If you add your LinkedIn profile to your Twitter profile description, then you may receive requests from people who like you (or hate you) on Twitter.
Post a Facebook update with a link to your LinkedIn account. Tell your friends you’re trying to grow your network.
You can actually sync your LinkedIn updates to your Twitter updates, so the first 140 characters of your LinkedIn updates are posted directly to your Twitter as a tweet. On LinkedIn, your followers are pretty much the only ones who can see the things you post. By linking your page with Twitter, you can expose your content to millions.
You never know what’s going to go viral. You never know which opinion piece is going to catch the attention of some major news outlet. By adding your LinkedIn profile to all of your other social media pages, you’re ensuring everybody knows you have an active LinkedIn page.
Continue to Repeat All the Steps Listed Above
Your LinkedIn network can always become more powerful. Your job is never done. Continue repeating all of the steps listed above:
-Add people you’ve previously worked with (some may have joined LinkedIn since the last time you looked)
-Add new people you’ve worked with or done business with
-Interact with groups and post content updates
-Continue nurturing your network and let everyone know you have an active, engaged presence on LinkedIn
If you can follow these basic steps, you’re well on your way to creating a powerful LinkedIn network.