The only reason to join any social media platform is to increase your target audience reach and to widen your circle of influence. LinkedIn is perhaps the best at making it really simply to expand your network simply using the tools they provide to both free and paid users. With over 364 million users and growing as a business owner you cannot ignore LinkedIn, as it allows you to grow your reach and expand your network easily and the business generated between its members is staggering.
To succeed at LinkedIn try:
Have an End Goal in Mind
Using any social media platform without an end goal in mind almost always means you will be wasting your time, or simply socializing and not working towards your goals. If you have a goal to generate leads from LinkedIn, how many? In what time frame? Perhaps your goal is to simply connect with industry influencers in your niche, whatever your goal write it down so that it stops being a dream and becomes something you can work towards achieving.
Ready, Aim, Fire
It’s imperative to understand and set your goals first as these generally determine who you want to connect with. You can have more than one target audience on LinkedIn, in fact I would be surprised if you only had one. Your target audience for instance could be the people you sell your products to, the people you sell your services to, the people who would make great joint-venture marketing people. You might have industry influencers, educators, business coaches and people you could learn for. Your competitors might also be your targets as being connected on social media gives you many insights as to what they are doing and what is working for them.
Improve your profile
There are two types of LinkedIn profiles in my opinion, one is for those seeking to improve their careers and the other for business development. Whichever one you decide is right for you, stick to it and complete your profile accordingly. The first thing you need to do is to select an appropriate picture, you want something that looks good, shows you face and eyes and that gives your audience the impression you want them to get. Don’t whatever you do use a company logo or some other image, people on LinkedIn connect with people. Within your profile, use select keywords that your audience might search for on LinkedIn the idea is to include these but to keep the content natural and engaging. Complete your profile fully, until you have “all star” status.
Invite people to connect
Invite all of your business associates, customers and the people you network with at live events to connect with you. LinkedIn actually provides a tool that will allow you to use your address book to invite these people you know and already have relationships with to connect with you. Try never to send a block invite out to anyone, especially people you don’t really know well. You should also invite people to connect with you within the articles you write and include an invite on your business cards, it’s an awful lot better than a Facebook link in my opinion.
Get people to invite you
Include your LinkedIn profile link within the signature of your emails, within your newsletter and in any forums or directories that you’re part of, this allows people who want to, to easily invite you into their networks. You might want to consider becoming an open networker, commonly referred to as a LION in LinkedIn, this means you are open to accept invites from a wide range of people. I’d still recommend being someone selective with the aim being to connect only with those people that can help your network grow, that are in your target audience or that interest you.
Join groups strategically
LinkedIn groups are well, just a great way to get known and to expand your reach. Join groups focused on the topics you feel are more likely to consist of your target audiences, and not on the groups drawn from people in the same industry as you. By doing so, you’ll immediately be connected to all the members of that group, but you can go further and invite stand-out members to your network and be open to asking them to invite you.
Every single person you connect with has a section called tags, when you connect with people in your target goal audiences simply tag them appropriately. By doing so you help keep your connections organized and it allows you to easily segment your connections. You can then filter your connects via tags, send messages to those with a tag of your choice. There are a number of standard default tags and you can also add your own tags. A great tag especially for those that like to network in real life, is a tag of where you met, perhaps the group that are part of, or what target market they fit in.
Try Using LinkedIn Advanced Search
At the top of LinkedIn there is a search window; beside it is the word “Advanced.” If you click that it will take you to a page where you can customize your search on LinkedIn. You can search by location, company, industry, and all manner of things. If you are trying to connect with a specific type of person, do your search from here and best of all you can save your searches.
By having LinkedIn goals and by using all the tools available to you on LinkedIn, you can easily expand your network with just a little work each day, and not only that it’s fun once you see yourself making progress towards those goals.