When you first join LinkedIn, you can generally build your core network up quickly. Colleagues and clients readily accept your connection requests, LinkedIn presents an extensive list of recommended connections and you can quickly import a list of email contacts.
Your core network should always be a priority as it usually consists of highly relevant contacts who know you, meaning they’re likely to engage with your content and make recommendations and introductions where possible.
Yet after a while, your network expansion rate is likely to hit a plateau and you can’t achieve long-term goals focusing on only quantity rather than quality. Here are the best five best strategies to build your LinkedIn network beyond the initial low-hanging fruit.
1. Be Accessible To Your Target Audience
Imagine if you didn’t have to look for connections, but they came to you. With just a few tweaks to your LinkedIn profile and simple promotion methods, you can ensure that the right people can find and connect with you.
Using the right keywords in your title and throughout your profile helps users find you in search results. LinkedIn’s algorithm favours the posts of those with a complete LinkedIn profile so check to see what’s missing – many people fail to complete their About section or skills.
(You can find more tips here: How to Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile)
You should also promote your profile where you can, such as in your email signature, on your business cards and via social bio or blog links.
2. School Alumni
A good way to find connections is to search the alumni networks of schools, colleges, universities and accredited bodies that you are associated with.
If you list a specific school in the Education section and then click on the school’s name, LinkedIn will show you information on all its users that have also associated themselves with this particular body. Some universities even have their own LinkedIn alumni groups where you can read, start and join discussions and get to know group members.
TIP: If you are looking for new contacts at a specific company, you can scan the list of “Where they work” and find out which one of your fellow university or schoolmates are now employed there. You can also check in which location they work, what they do and what subject they studied.
3. Build Offline Connections And Find Existing Ones, Then Bring Them Online
Another fast way to grow your network is to take it offline (although at present, the options are limited). Find the places that your customers and prospects visit. That might be a conference, a workshop, casual meet-up or a charity/sports event. Like-minded people will gather. Find out the location.
Put yourself out there and get to know as many people as you can. After meeting a new person, connect or follow them on all the professional social networks they may be on.
When at an event, use the LinkedIn mobile app and select the QR code or Find Nearby options to instantly connect online with the person instead of exchanging business cards.
You probably already have existing, less obvious offline connections that you can bring online. (Although it may be slightly strange if you attempt this with someone you met in passing a few years ago!)
Here are some ideas of people you may already know to get you started:
- People you’ve spoken with at networking events or training events/hubs
- Acquaintances you’ve made at social events
- Someone you’ve liaised with during a conference call with a client
- Your fellow employees at different workplaces
- Your Facebook friends (this is often an easy way to jog your memory!)
4. Stay Active On Social Media
Staying active on social media helps build your visibility to those outside your network. Just remember social etiquette: balance posting your own content with sharing others’ content and engaging in existing conversations.
- Share other people’s content
You can use content curation tools, Google Alerts and social listening tools to find relevant content to share with your network. It's best to add your opinion, though, otherwise you're not adding anything to the discussion (and it can look spammy).
- Engage with your insights and expertise
LinkedIn pushes trending content to the top automatically, so it’s a great way to join active conversations. Check for new posts in your feed that you can engage with and add meaningful insight to.
- Publish your own content
Publishing your own content takes your reputation to the next level and is a step beyond sharing others’ content. It builds credibility and gets you noticed by your network, who may then comment on your post or share it with others.
Just remember to set up notifications on LinkedIn or your social listening tool so that you can respond promptly to any engagements or profile views and follow up with a thank you, response and connection request.
5. Establish A Routine
At Tribal we always recommend our coffee cup routine. In just ten minutes a day – before you start work, during your natural downtime or at the end of each day – you can quickly:
- Send, accept and reject connection requests
- Check and reply to messages
- Check your notifications for engagement opportunities
- Engage with 2-3 Posts in your newsfeed
- Post 1 industry-related article
- Check who's viewed your profile
If you are mostly office-based - schedule in a coffee break each Friday, run through your calendar and connect with new people that you met online or offline during the week. If you are the sort of person that is always on the move, download a mobile app where you can find, connect and personalise the invitation to new connections.