Continuing on from Part 2: The LinkedIn Profile, the next step is to develop and grow your professional network. Part 3 in this LinkedIn series will bring you through some of the ways in which you can do this.
Build your Network: Growing your professional network entails connecting with people. Avoid spamming with connection requests. Your profile is more effective if your connections are relevant. Personalising connection requests is highly recommended, rather than just sending the supplied template. The more personal you make your LinkedIn network the more likely it is you will get a response, comment or an answer to a query when you look for it. Keep in mind your Privacy Settings, without identifying yourself, you need to appreciate that others may not accept invites from you.
Ask for Recommendations: As your network grows consider asking for recommendations. Recommendations are important, they are a professional endorsement in relation to work you have done. They are, in my opinion, equivalent to a work reference and should be requested (from credible sources) and written as such.
Joining Groups: In theory, joining groups allows you to participate and receive insights that are relevant to you and your industry. They also allow you to see and interact with group members. You can develop your network further by looking for appropriate connections here. Be sure to review the groups you have joined on a regular basis…ask yourself: are you participating, do you read the weekly updates and discussions, is the content emailed to you relevant and engaging, are the members actually the right audience you are looking to reach and interact with? TIP: Check the statistics and demographics of the groups you are interested in joining to ensure you are engaging and interacting with your desired audience.
Status Updates: Once up and running, providing RELEVANT status updates shows you are active on the site and ensures you pop up in your connections’ newsfeed.
LinkedIn will advise on profile strength and visibility and provide recommendations where appropriate. Links to profile statistics are found in the right hand column of your home page so you can keep an eye on how your network is growing.
Final Thoughts: LinkedIn is a useful tool, but is only as good as you make it. It is up to you to be visible and proactive. It is not something I would use in isolation but rather to complement and enhance what you do and what you are looking to achieve.
I hope this has been helpful to you. Do let me know if you have any questions or comments and if you find LinkedIn of value and why?