3 Ways to Grow Your Network Using LinkedIn

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What is the biggest networking event in the world today? According to Samantha Enslen, president of Dragonfly Editorial, it’s not an event — it’s LinkedIn.

During her session at APMP’s Digital Marketing Conference, Enslen explained how the social platform, founded in 2002, is not just an online resume, or a place to share cat videos and memes. It’s an opportunity for users to build and nurture professional connections that could be beneficial to their career or business.

“LinkedIn’s a place where you can stake out who you are in the world professionally, build relationships with other professionals, demonstrate your expertise and build your credibility,” Enslen said. She offered three ways to use this social platform to maximize your reach and enhance your online presence.

1. Create a stellar profile.

The first step to using LinkedIn is building your personal profile. Enslen recommends completing each section, starting with a professional-looking headshot and a clear, descriptive headline. The headline should describe you in 120 characters or less, and it shouldn’t just be your job title.

“You want to [put] in there what [your] differentiators are,” she explained. “Include a few factoids that really set you apart and define your place in the world.”

Your “About” section of the profile should elaborate on your headline, describing your values and what it’s like to work with you. Enslen advises being authentic in this section and to look at it as your “personal executive summary.”

Listen to Enslen discuss more on building your “About” section.

 

Enslen also recommended:

  • Making sure your “Experience” section is up to date, organized in an easy-to-read format, such as bulleted lists, and includes keywords and details that further describe each role
  • Adding five relevant skills to the “Skills & Endorsements” section (it helps people find you because it’s searchable)
  • Requesting “Recommendations” from at least 10 colleagues — and don’t forget to offer to give one in return. “These are gold for hiring managers,” Enslen said.

2. Connect the right way.

LinkedIn is unique in that it allows for one-to-many relationship-building, meaning your network is comprised of first-, second- and third-degree connections that explain who you’re connected to directly, who those folks are connected to and so on. This provides an easy way to expand your network because you can see who might be an interesting person to reach out to based on mutual acquaintances. Be intentional, though, as you attain connections. Enslen suggests starting with coworkers, industry colleagues such as fellow APMP members, and, if relevant to you, customers, leads and dream clients. She also advises sending a brief message with the connection request and then thanking them when they accept your invitation to connect.

3. Build credibility and stay top of mind.

Now that you’re showing up in your connections’ newsfeed, what do you have to say? Start engaging by posting valuable content that highlights your expertise and knowledge and further shows who you are. As people start interacting with your posts, one tip Enslen offers is to look through the likes and comments to see if there’s someone you’re not connected with who might be beneficial to reach out to.

You can also stay top of mind by commenting on, liking or sharing other people’s content. Checking your notifications is a good way to see what’s happening within your network as well, as it lists activities and milestones you might have missed, such as work anniversaries, job changes, etc. Sending a note of congratulations gives you a reason to reach out to someone or even reconnect with a colleague you haven’t heard from in a while.

LinkedIn success largely depends on the amount of time and effort you put into it. Enslen suggests making it part of your daily routine, spending a few minutes looking for opportunities to engage or inform your network. “The more attention you can pay to it,” she said, “the more rewards it’s going to reap.”


Frances Moffett is the managing editor at APMP.

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