by Chris Villanueva, CPRW, CEO and Co-Founder of Let’s Eat, Grandma
With over 810 million members worldwide, LinkedIn can be an incredible asset for entrepreneurs. Through simple personal networking efforts, you can increase your brand’s visibility, connect with new leads, and grow your business.
But as with anything, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of being too spammy or selling too aggressively on LinkedIn, which turns people off rather than building relationships.
If you want to authentically network to grow your brand awareness and leads on LinkedIn, I’m sharing 5 proven tips that have worked for me in building my resume and LinkedIn writing business and that we recommend to our clients.
1. First Things First: Brush Up Your Profile.
Before you start connecting with people, you want to make sure your profile is up to par. Make sure you have a strong LinkedIn profile that accurately reflects your brand and business.
Optimizing your profile is a subject for a whole other post, but in brief, this means having a professional headshot, a relevant cover photo, and a compelling Headline and About section that tell visitors who you are, what you do, and why you’re good at it.
Your profile is essentially your first impression on LinkedIn, so make it count!
2. Accept and Initiate Only Relevant Connection Requests.
When it comes to building your network on LinkedIn, quality is always better than quantity. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about how many connections you have but rather who those connections are.
You want to be strategic about the people you connect with and only accept requests from people you think would benefit your professional network or your brand in some way. If someone reaching out to you isn’t clear about how they could help you or vice versa, it’s probably not worth your time.
And don’t forget to return the favor! If you see someone’s profile and think they could be a valuable connection, reach out and introduce yourself with a meaningful message in your connection request. (Side note: if you didn’t already know this, always include a message with your connection request!)
It may be tempting to just hit “Connect” on everyone who appears in your “People You May Know” section, but this isn’t a good idea. It will just dilute your network and fill your feed with content you don’t care about.
3. Make Posts That Give Advice and Show Your Expertise.
Speaking of content, you want to make sure you’re regularly creating posts that position you as an expert on your business’ service/product. For instance, you could share blogs your company has written, give small bits of advice related to your service, share articles or podcasts you’ve found insightful, or stories about your own journey running your business and why you do what you do.
But be sure to keep your advice authentic and down-to-earth, not preachy or salesy. Keep it from a perspective of “this is what you should do because this is what has worked for me.”
Whatever you post, make sure it’s relevant to your target audience and provides self-contained value. No one wants to read a sales pitch disguised as an article, so avoid anything that comes across as self-promotional.
Instead, focus on helping others by giving away a little bit of your expertise for free, and you’ll be more likely to attract organic attention and new leads.
Finally, you always want to encourage conversation by ending your posts with questions or calls to action. A simple “What do you think?” can go a long way in sparking conversation and furthering relationships.
4. Leave Thoughtful Comments on Others’ Posts.
Remember that networking is a two-way street. It’s not just about promoting your own content but also engaging with others’ posts.
When you comment on someone else’s post, make sure you add value to the conversation rather than simply leaving a one or two-word (or emoji) response. A thoughtful, well-written comment shows that you’re truly interested in what the other person has to say, have your own thoughts to add on the topic, and are invested in the relationship. Think of it as if you’re having an in-person conversation with someone at an event.
But whose posts should you be commenting on? Look through your feed for posts from people who inspire you, are doing similar things to you, or you could see becoming a valuable partner, lead, etc. in the future. You can also engage with posts from thought leaders in your industry that can give visibility to your comment — remember to use that “Follow” button for people who are too big to connect with to make sure they come up in your feed.
The key is to find a balance between both. You don’t want to only focus on influencers as that can come across as try-hard, but at the same time, you don’t want to only engage with people you already know.
Bottom line: if you have something valuable to say, say it!
5. Stay Consistent and Schedule Blocks of Time.
Lastly, you need to be consistent with your networking efforts to see results. That means committing to spending some amount of quality time on LinkedIn on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be every day, but it should be at a consistent, recurring time at least every week.
Schedule specific blocks of time for networking into your calendar and treat it like any other important meeting or deadline. This will help you stay focused and ensure that you’re making the most of your time.
Of course, there will be some days when you just don’t have the time or energy to network. And that’s okay! Just remember to keep yourself accountable for the time you want to dedicate to this platform. If you keep consistently missing your scheduled time due to other tasks, you might want to reevaluate to see if LinkedIn should be a priority or not.
The most important thing is to be consistent over the long run and not give up after a week or two. If you stick with it, you’ll start to see your network (and business) grow in no time.
Chris Villanueva, CPRW is the CEO and Co-Founder of the professional resume writing service Let’s Eat, Grandma (because proper writing is important enough to save a life!) His team of highly trained writers has helped thousands of job seekers get closer to their dream jobs with custom-tailored resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. You can follow Let’s Eat, Grandma on LinkedIn here.