LinkedIn LowDown – part 2
how to build and grow your LinkedIn network
As part of our 3 part LinkedIn LowDown series, we look at the best practices to stay active and grow your connections.
Following our training with Mike Clarke from Really Connect last year, we’ve put together this 3 part LinkedIn LowDown series. In part 1, we looked at how to make your LinkedIn personal profile effective. Next, we look at the best practices to stay active and build connections in order to better leverage LinkedIn as a powerful B2B marketing tool.
So you’ve completed and optimised your profile, but what do you do now? Part of building your influence on LinkedIn is about spending time increasing your connections and creating a network that you can trust. The best place to start is by searching for people you know in the basic search bar at the top of your homepage. If you’ve ever used a search engine, you should be familiar with how this function works. You simply have to type in your search term, press enter and your results will be displayed beneath. Easy-peasy.
However, you may be surprised to learn how many LinkedIn members share the same name. This is where the seven filters displayed on the left-hand side come in handy. These filters help to further specify the person you’re looking for and limit the amount of results shown to you.
LinkedIn’s basic search and filters can be a powerful way to look for connections, however if you want to drill deeper, you can tap into LinkedIn’s Advanced Search. The main benefit of Advanced Search is that it allows you to search for specific terms in relation to custom fields, rather than using the single ‘Keywords’ field for all your search terms. For example, when searching for ‘Joe Bloggs, Uprise’, you can put ‘Joe’ in the first name field, ‘Bloggs’ in the second name field and ‘Uprise’ in the company field. It gives you much more flexibility to find the people (and businesses) you’re looking for.
Import Email Contacts
Another way to add connections is by importing contacts from your email account. This feature can be used by clicking on the ‘Add Connections’ option under the ‘Connection’ tab and simply typing in the email address you want to use. This is a fail-safe way to build an instant base of relevant contacts that can further benefit your business goals.
As you may have previously experienced, a LinkedIn invite sent out of the blue can be a little off-putting. Before sending a connection invite, consider how you may know one another or a common ground you may share– be it a mutual connection, job industry or background – you can then personalise a direct message for them. Alternatively, LinkedIn allows you to be introduced to a 2nd degree connection. You can request an introduction to this 2nd degree person by visiting their profile, clicking the drop-down arrow near the top of their profile, selecting ‘Get Introduced’ and explaining why you would like to connect.
Not within your network?
If the person you want to connect with isn’t within your network (i.e isn’t a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connection), you can use the Send InMail link to contact them, or if you are in the same group as someone you want to connect with, you are automatically able to send them a direct message.
How search results are displayed
It’s worth remembering that when LinkedIn users are searching for you, search results are displayed in correlation to your degree of connectivity to them. Therefore, if you are a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connection with the searcher, you will appear higher up in the results. This means that the larger your network, the more relevant you become to other LinkedIn users. However, this doesn’t mean you should connect with everyone and anyone. As LinkedIn states, “think about building a quality network of professionals you know, respect and can vouch for”.
Update, update and update
An active profile is an effective profile so make sure you actively share relevant content as often as possible. Status updates show up on the homepage feeds of everyone in your network, so updating regularly is an easy way to keep your name and your brand on their radar. Aim to inform your network and add value to their feeds, not to spam them with irrelevant updates just for the sake of updating.
On your LinkedIn homepage, you’ll find the updates and activity of your connections. Essentially, this is the LinkedIn equivalent of a Facebook news feed or Twitter homepage. Here you can interact with people, find questions to answer and lend a helping hand. This will help to build greater trust and rapport in your network, as well as increasing your visibility and opening the door to new connections.
Participate in Groups
LinkedIn Groups are social networking hotspots. They are a great place to get noticed, exchange knowledge and build thought leadership. Each user has a limit of 50 groups that they can join, so make sure that you choose carefully. Check if they are medium-sized and relatively active, or you could even start your own LinkedIn group where you benefit from shaping the conversations and managing the membership.
Once you get used to LinkedIn, you’ll quickly get into the routine of regular posting and building a close community of connections. It takes time, effort and dedication, but the results you receive will be significant in developing new relationships, business opportunities and thought leadership.
In the final instalment of our LinkedIn LowDown series, we’ll be looking at how you can get the most out of your Company Page. If you can’t wait until then, give us a call and we’ll turn you into a LinkedIn All-Star in no time.