Any professional can benefit from a strong LinkedIn profile and plan, but if you are interested in expanding your network or cultivating prospects, a presence on the busy site is a must. This professional network is just too big to ignore; according to the social media experts at MOZ, LinkedIn offers B2B businesses three times the conversion rate of other leading channels. Positioning yourself for success on LinkedIn means starting with a compelling profile, sharing relevant and useful content and joining industry groups and discussions. The best practices below are designed to help you establish a viable presence and build a network, or to enhance the presence you may already have on the site.
9 Ways to Boost your Network with LinkedIn
Complete your Profile
You’ll need your own personal account to network on LinkedIn, even if you have an account for your business. The site offers different options and functions for personal and company use; the personal tools are more useful for networking and allow you to make better, more relevant connections.
Fully completing your profile, including a photo, allows other users to identify you at a glance and understand who you are, what you do and where you are coming from. Your fully completed profile will also help when you ask to be added to groups or when you send a connection request to someone new. Fill out as many fields as you can and you’ll be easier for others to find; you should revisit your profile occasionally to make sure it is up to date, relevant and error free.
Establish Yourself as an Expert
LinkedIn’s features make it easy to share and curate content that is of direct interest to your prospects and others in your field. By creating a steady stream of engaging and relevant content you not only boost your own visibility, but you position yourself as an expert in your field. Being viewed as an authority or thought leader comes in handy as you network and makes it easier for you to broaden your reach, too.
Join and Participate in Relevant Groups
Group participation has several key benefits; joining a group not only expands your reach, it allows you to connect with others in your industry or who share your interests. You’ll need an individual account to join groups, but it is well worth your time to apply to groups that are relevant to your industry.
Salespeople in particular need to be aware of groups; as a group member, you are able to message other group members, something you would normally need to be a first-degree connection to do. Use your message allotment wisely, though; the free version of LinkedIn allows you to send up to 15 initial messages in groups per month. You can also view the profiles of other group members without being a connection – and other members can see your profile as well.
LinkedIn requires you to apply for group membership; you’ll need to ask to join any group you are interested in. Most groups are very careful to admit only those with a relevant interest, experience or background, another reason to fully complete your profile. Sharing updates and content with a group can boost your visibility and provides an easy way to cultivate new connections and prospects.
Make it Easy for Connections to Find you
Include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your other social channels, including Twitter, Facebook and your blog. If you are just getting started on LinkedIn, then linking from your other social channels will make it easy for people already familiar with you and your brand to find you. Including some key search terms in your profile can help you get found as well; make sure you use relevant industry terms and keywords to boost your SEO and visibility.
Engage with Others
LinkedIn is a vibrant and busy community, and getting involved will help you make the most of the networking possibilities the channel offers. Make it a point to provide insight on the content posted by others and to share relevant comments; each time you make a comment, you boost your visibility and strengthen your network connections.
Put Advanced Search to Work for You
You can save searches on LinkedIn (up to 10 at a time), opt to receive monthly or weekly reminders and use the Advanced Search option to find new prospects and connections. If there is a specific company you’ve been hoping to connect with, add the business name to the Advanced Search field, then filter your results using the “Relationship” button. Any first or second degree connections you already have will pop right up. Depending on the size of your network and how involved you are in groups, this feature can help you get an in with a specific business in your industry.
See Who Has Viewed Your Profile
On the surface, the “Who’s Viewed your Profile” is a novelty, but it is actually a powerful selling tool. Click on this link (located in the dropdown menu under “Profile”) to see what users have visited your page. Has a prospect you’ve been hoping to connect with visited your page? You’ll be able to spot it and connect with them. Seeing a lot of “looks” from a particular group or publication? You may have been mentioned by someone else in your field. This useful setting can help you see who’s been checking you out and expand your connections, too.
Present Yourself in the Best Possible Light
You may not be job seeking, but consider LinkedIn as a professional resume and employment application rolled into one. Selfies, photos of you at the beach and your dating profile do not belong on your LinkedIn page. Stick to business and don’t share anything you would not want a prospective employer or customer to see.
Avoid Self Promotion
Share your latest posts, articles and tips, but avoid posting a steady stream of promotional material. Whether you are posting as an individual or for your business, sharing content that is relevant to others in your field, that boosts engagement and that your network will find interesting is the way to go. Save the promotions, the deals and selfies for other channels; they won’t perform as well on LinkedIn, and may even cost you followers.
Whether you want to position yourself as an authority, expand your network or use the site for prospecting purposes, LinkedIn can help, provided you use it properly.