I was inspired to begin engaging on social media in the summer of 2009 just before the credit crunch while on a Southwest Flight from Chicago to Dallas. I was sitting next to a young man named Ben, a social media marketer, who was creating Twitter ads for several popular candy brands. Ben persuaded me that the benefits of social networking were going to outweigh the investment of time and I began connecting with interesting people on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
For more than a decade since creating these social media accounts, I have maintained relationships with family, friends, colleagues, competitors and leaders in my industry, in addition to many interesting people from all over the world (some very famous) with backgrounds very different from mine.
As a result of my networking efforts on LinkedIn, I made a little money from consulting work, benefited from media writeups in major newspapers like the New York Times, and have even been mentioned in a couple of books on social networking. For several years, I was one of the most followed small business experts on Twitter. All of these opportunities were unsolicited and literally fell in my lap because of my past social networking efforts.
Looking back, while it did require an investment in time on my part, I feel that social networking on LinkedIn has boosted my statute as an SMB consultant and has been a fascinating, educational, positive addition to my life; and I, furthermore, view my 30,000 followers as an important, future marketing resource, as I know of several consulting firms today that are successfully monetizing their LinkedIn followers.
Hopefully, by now I have inspired you to think about how you can expand your professional network on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, the way I did it isn’t necessarily the best way for everyone. The good news is that there are some takeaways about how I did it from which you can benefit, and there are also many new tools available today that didn’t exist years ago that are powerful ways you can connect with others.
In part, my success was a result of PR exposure I received while managing a consulting division for a national consulting firm in Chicago that helped brand me as an industry expert — the job I had when I met Ben.
So, your first step is to identify why people should connect with you on LinkedIn and then you need to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is built around these strengths. After putting together a compelling profile, you should next devise a strategy for connecting with the people you’d like to be part of your network, invest time daily interacting on LinkedIn and attracting followers, continually try new ways to grow your connections, and adjust your approach, as needed, to reach your LinkedIn connection goals & objectives. In short, those five-(5) ideas were how I grew such a large network on LinkedIn.
While preparing for my radio segment on Bloomberg Talk Radio about how I accumulated 30,000 LinkedIn followers, I was reminded of the following ideas — many of which were not available when I was growing my network that, I feel, can also help you grow your network once you get started.
Idea # 1: Educate Yourself – There’s a lot of great information on LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google today about growing your LinkedIn Network. If you are trying to grow your personal network, I’d encourage you to double click on those Internet posts you find most interesting. I like “20 Steps to a Better LinkedIn Profile in 2020,” and “How to Grow Your LinkedIn Network to 10,000 Contacts in 30 Days.” If you own a small business, look up LinkedIn’s “Action Plan for Small Business” and “The Ultimate Guide to B2B Content Marketing Strategies” to start with and then search from there.
Idea # 2: Include Your LinkedIn Address in Your Email Signature, Marketing Materials, Website, Business Cards, etc. — I’m surprised how few people fully take advantage of this opportunity.
Idea # 3: Take Advantage of Tips You Pick Up From Industry Leaders And Competitor Pages And Consider Recommending And Promoting “Influencers” By Sharing Their Content With Others — By @mentioning influencers in your updates, you’ll have a better chance of getting in front of their network, since they’ll be able to reshare your posts with their followers. If you have a great profile, you should also encourage leaders and influencers to @mention your page. You should, furthermore, consider connecting with LIONS (LinkedIn Open Networkers.) As “open networkers,” LIONS are always looking for ways to expand their networks. Last, switch your attention from individuals and groups that don’t yield the results you desire to new opportunities. I did this often when growing my network.
Idea # 4: Join Groups And Regularly Post Content, Including Images (Which Get 94% More Shares,) Infographics (Which Get 300% More Shares,) And Videos (As 70% of B2B Decision Makers Watch Videos;) And Consider Creating And Then Giving Away Valuable, Free Content — How often should you post content ? The experts suggest you post content 20 times per month. The best time to post on LinkedIn according to the experts is at noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Posting content weekly will double your exposure on LinkedIn.
Idea # 5: Add Three- (3) to Five (5) Hashtags to Your Posts to Promote You and Your Content When Joining in Conversations — When you associate your LinkedIn Page with hashtags in your “Communities Hashtags Panel,” you can comment on conversations from your perspective and further expose your content to new audiences.
Idea # 6: Get Your Content Featured on LinkedIn’s “Pulse Content Platform” — Pulse showcases the best content published on LinkedIn. It includes many different categories selected by LinkedIn such as “productivity,” “big ideas and innovation,” “leadership & management,” “technology,” and “entrepreneurship.” Focus on “trending topics” when thinking about content that would appeal to these large audience. Send the LinkedIn Editorial team (@LinkedInEditors) your best content; If you get featured, your content will be promoted to potentially millions of people who follow the aforementioned categories on LinkedIn.
Idea # 7: Start Your Own LinkedIn Group — Being a “thought leader” in your industry can have a transformational impact on your career. An advocacy page of some type is one idea suggested by some experts. Again, LinkedIn “Content Suggestions” can also help identify a possible theme for your group.
Idea # 8: Try “LinkedIn Premium” — LinkedIn Premium provides new features, improved access to data, analytics, and training, along with a 30-day free trial to let you evaluate the benefits of upgrading your memebership. There are options for business careers, sales and hiring and many of the reviews I’ve read about LinkedIn’s Premium upgrade have been positive.
Idea # 9: Make Sure Your Company Has A Robust “Company Page” — According to LinkedIn, a huge percentage of its members are interested in company news, so you want to be sure to share your company’s news on LinkedIn too. You should also encourage your employees to actively network and participate in LinkedIn Groups. “Showcase Page Followers” are an extension of your company page that focus on a particular segment of your business and allow LinkedIn members to follow the part of your business that interests them. Make sure your image on your company page is consistent with all of your social media sites and search for “The LinkedIn Company Pages Playbook” for more information about how to create a quality company page.
Idea # 10: Consider A “Follower Ad Campaign,” Using LinkedIn’s Follower Ad Format — Running a Dynamic Ad campaign using the Follower Ad format in LinkedIn is a great way to establish brand awareness, increase web site followers, obtain job applicants and engage with followers in other ways. By tapping into LinkedIn’s powerful targeting capabilities, you can use this method to gain highly relevant followers.
Idea # 11: Make Sure You Are Optimizing Your LinkedIn Page for SEO — There’s a lot of information online to assist you in this area. I like Vengreso’s “15 LinkedIn Profile SEO Tips for Getting Found.”
Tip #12: Adjust Your Content Based On Your Page Analytics – Individual owners of LinkedIn pages are automatically set up as their page administrator. By viewing your analytics, you will have access to demographic information about your followers and visitors, as well as engagement data, which can be useful to realign your content with your visitor’s interests in mind.
LinkedIn is the premier social network for professionals today. As we entered the new decade, LinkedIn boasts over 645,000,000 users. Forty-five (45%) percent of LinkedIn users are in upper management, hence, decision makers.
No matter where your LinkedIn Page currently stands there is room to improve your LinkedIn profile and expand your network, which can lead to innumerable career, brand, and business opportunities in any direction you want to take it, a fact to which I can personally attest.