Looking to exponentially build your network? Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are the best avenue. With over 332,000,000 total users (40% of whom check their accounts on a daily basis), you have an opportunity to reach far more people than you would in the average day, week, or month. The question is: are you doing what’s necessary to make the most of all those professionals?
Join & Be a Vocal Part of Your Professional Community
LinkedIn is home to countless vibrant professional communities. The sheer quantity alone is impressive. Every type of profession, from actuary science to zoology, has its own place to mingle and share ideas. Once you find your online enclave, it’s important to distinguish yourself from the silent majority within it.
Think about any powerful networker you know. Wallflowers they are not. Their voices are loud, clear, and distinct wherever they go.
In a LinkedIn group, a networking pro will share articles, hard-hitting reports, ideas, and musings on industry developments. They’ll thoughtfully comment on what others have to say. And when they make a connection, they work hard to keep it.
That’s exactly what you have to do. Find a group with an active community. Post topics that aren’t too self-serving. Respond respectfully as you impart your best advice. And when there’s a chance to reach out, take it.
Additionally, be on the lookout for employers and recruiters within LinkedIn groups. Often, they’re actively scouting professional groups for new talent. It’s imperative to reach out. Even if they don’t have a position for you now. They are a vital connection within any network.
Constantly Build Connections
How did the person at the top of your field get there? Many are talented individuals with unique ideas, but that’s not what propels most to the top. Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Ariana Huffington partnered their talents with indomitable networking skills to make career advancing connections.
The key to building your connections is confidence. How to get there? Dale Carnegie said, “Action breeds confidence and courage…Go out and get busy.” On LinkedIn, that means having the courage to contact your 2nd and 3rd connections.
Just asking to connect isn’t enough. If you were to receive a stock message out of the blue, how inclined would you be to accept? According to LinkedIn, a personalized message is 50% more effective. To take that further, you need to show respect and build a relationship before you ask for any favors.
Your message needs to be clear, concise, and personable. Avoid any jargon or anything outside of common knowledge. Keep your introductory message to two paragraphs (at most). Learn what you can about the person in advance. That way, you have an ice breaker that they’ll be less likely to brush off.
The body of your message should look something like this.
“Hi [Person’s Name],
Your last blog post [title] was really enlightening. I would like to learn more about [relevant topic], so I’m hoping to make the connection with you. Thanks.
It’s short, it’s direct, and it doesn’t take up too much of their time. You never want to ask too much the first time you speak with someone. Start small, build up a rapport, and work your way to a mutually beneficial relationship.
Write Articles and Compel People to Reach Out to You
To expand your network faster, you need to have a professional brand that captures attention. The strongest brands precede their owners. One way to do that on LinkedIn is to write your own LinkedIn post.
These days, anyone can do it and it can quickly pay off. Your LinkedIn connections will be notified about the post, which acts as a constant reminder about your personal brand. Additionally, your post can be shared and liked by other LinkedIn members, organically spreading your message.
Think of writing a LinkedIn post as writing a billboard. It’s a good way to get noticed as people are speeding by. And eventually, they’ll start coming to you.
On a Final Note:
As with anything networking related, it’s all about activity. It’s like applying for jobs. If you only do it once in a blue moon, you’re bound to have a lower return. But if you diligently keep at it and build your brand, you can expand your network in ways that were previously improbable.
by James Walsh