These Tips Can Help You Build Your LinkedIn Network

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LinkedIn is the largest professional network on the internet with more than 467 million members around the globe. Business professionals use networking as a tool to meet potential clients and partners. Face-to-face events continue to be powerful ways to meet fellow professionals and establish contacts, but attendance is limited and they can be costly to attend. LinkedIn, with its mission to “connect the world’s professionals,” expands opportunities to “link” with millions of other professionals and build networks of trusted relationships.

Connecting — or not ?

LinkedIn works well for professionals when everyone plays by the rules. In its list of user agreement “Don’ts,” LinkedIn reminds users to avoid inviting “people you do not know to join your network.” This is because first-degree connections have access to the primary email address on your account. However, “knowing” someone can be a matter of introduction.

LinkedIn was designed so User A could recommend or introduce User B to User C. According to Kim Lachance Shandrow, former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur, “Connecting with someone on LinkedIn isn’t like introducing yourself and handing them your business card at an in-person networking event. It’s more like you’re both vouching for each other’s professional experience and skills. You’re entering into a mutual circle of professional trust.”

When establishing yourself on LinkedIn, start by reaching out to people you have existing relationships with, including colleagues, friends, neighbors, and former schoolmates. Then expand your reach by asking your first-degree connections to introduce you to their first-degree connections relevant to you.

From this point, how you reach out and who you reach out to is a matter of opinion, but Lachance Shandrow suggests not linking to every person who sends a request.

On the contrary, Theresa Merrill, founder of Sell Social Media, argues in favor of accepting invitations from strangers because “Social power comes from your ‘strong, weak ties’ or the acquaintances that (sic) introduce us to worlds in which we do not belong.”

In either case, weigh the pros and cons of each individual connection to see if it’s beneficial to you, your business goals, and your reputation. The option to “disconnect” is always available.

Attract a target audience ?

Once you’re on LinkedIn, it’s important to participate. Do you want to be the person at the party who stands in the corner — or do you want to meet people? LinkedIn is about networking. Joining the conversation helps you attract eyes to your profile and establish yourself within your professional field.

Stay active by posting updates on a regular basis such as original or repurposed content from trusted media or professional publications. Utilizing the LinkedIn publishing platform allows for longer format posts. Creating content in this forum relevant to your business can attract a target audience. Social media expert Neal Schaffer recommends ways to not only get your articles published on LinkedIn but also to get your words read and make your posts successful.

Risk and reward ?

It’s true: You’re likely to be judged if you promote yourself. With every risk, however, comes potential rewards. Putting yourself out there professionally to make connections that offer win-win relationships is not only worth the risk but may also be a life-changing step in your career.

Business professionals should seriously consider using LinkedIn. Becoming familiar with and using it well can help you strategically improve and grow your business connections, enhance your reputation, as well as generate invitations, possible partnerships, press inquiries, and many more opportunities.
[cta]Feeling bogged down by the thought of adding one more responsibility to your list? I can create specific strategies and tactics to help you build your relationships. Contact me, Mark McIntosh, at 972-998-5132 or schedule a meeting with me at ScheduleACallWithMark.com.[/cta] Read this article on LinkedIn →

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