How to Build a Professional Network on LinkedIn?
Over the years, LinkedIn has changed from being a platform for job-seekers, to a highly sophisticated social media network where Fortune 500 executives and industry influencers hang out, scrolling through their feed looking for content to read.
In the war between competing social media platforms vying for people’s attention, LinkedIn is slowly gaining traction. Because it is often overlooked as a social media channel but is in reality experiencing significant growth, it actually represents an ideal opportunity for you to jump in early(ish) and leverage it as an effective method for driving audiences to your business: it hasn’t yet experienced the saturation of other social media channels.
Just how effective can it be though? Compared with other social media platforms, LinkedIn has a more specific positioning as it is used mainly for business purposes. With 690 million users worldwide, and 260 million monthly active users, LinkedIn has become the number one social media site for professional networking and B2B lead generation. So much so, that “LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites & blogs”.
According to Neil Patel, even though social media channels in general aren’t that effective for lead generation, one platform still stands out: “LinkedIn is responsible for 97% of a business’s social media leads!”
Let that number sink in just for a moment… 97%?
With that in mind, it must surely be worth a little time spent polishing that bio, creating a company page and spending some time networking on LinkedIn, right?
But where to start? As usual, Trendeavour is here for you. We’ll cover:
- LinkedIn basics: setting up your bio
- Setting up your company page
- LinkedIn groups
- Networking 101 on LinkedIn
- And finally, getting to know some of LinkedIn’s Tools
Complete your bio
Before you do anything else, make sure your personal bio is up-to-date and filled out in full.
It is very likely that your future prospects will check this out first when they receive an invite from you to connect. Having it up-to-date and as complete as possible will help you make a good impression.
First and foremost, have a professional, current photo. Just as on any other social media platform, people don’t like to connect with random strangers with no face. “LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21x more views and 36x more messages.” (Foundation Inc).
You can personalise your LinkedIn URL (I was early to the game, so mine is simply emesha – say hi!), and create an attention-grabbing headline (your character limit here is 120, and it’s searchable).
In the “About” section on the top of the page summarise your achievements. This is the place to show some personality too. You can optimise the about section by including industry specific words, and as always, end with a call to action.
Make use of the “Featured” section underneath by linking in your best work from your website, plus any posts or media that you have created or been featured in.
List (relevant) work from the past five years, the schools you went to, and volunteering experience if you can find relevance. It’s helpful to list your best skills (you can list up to 50) – as these terms are searchable – and get endorsements for them too (essentially where people who have worked with you confirm that you can do what you say you can). If your particular skills are in demand, you’ll have a better chance of showing up in searches – which could lead to more connections.
Create a company page on LinkedIn
Having a company page on LinkedIn can boost the visibility of your brand, and can connect you with your customers. Unlike your Facebook company page posts, your posts on LinkedIn still have the potential to gain a significant number of organic views, and – talking from personal experience – it is easier to gain followers for your business page as well.
Once you have created your personal profile, follow the steps below to create your company page:
- Click on “Create a Company Page” on the right hand upper corner (underneath the ‘Work’ tab), and choose what describes your company best.
- Make use of all the real estate available, such as the name, the website, company size/type, logo (square format) and tagline.
- You will get a checklist by LinkedIn, and it is advisable to follow their instructions for best results. For this you’ll have to fill out a description of your company (About) that can be up to 2,000 words, your location, cover photo (which should be your business logo, or anything else that you use across all your social media platforms for consistency), phone number, etc.
- You can choose up to three hashtags to follow, so pick something that is most related to your business, audience or industry.
Take the time to write a compelling About page, with relevant keywords, and make your Recent Updates section clickable.
As mentioned in this article previously, make use of all your social media real estate, and also, make your social media channels visible everywhere you can (e.g. in your email signature). Be careful about using the entire 2,000 words in your About section though: you want to be comprehensive – but also short and snappy. Social media attention spans are short as it is, and these are busy business people!
You can also cross-promote your social media channels on each of your accounts. I wouldn’t recommend doing this randomly though (i.e writing posts that just say “check out our Instagram”). Instead, work on it more intentionally, such as by creating a challenge on your FB group and publicising this on your other social media channels so that users transfer over to investigate and engage.
It’s important to note here that by putting the same content on each of your social media channels, you “teach people not to follow you on other platforms.” (Chris Do, The Futur). This means you need to diversify your content and tailor it to the nature of the platform (for instance, LinkedIn content may benefit from a slightly more professional or formal tone). By doing this, you encourage users to follow you across multiple channels, and therefore maximize their exposure to you.
Just like on Facebook, you can create a group or join one, which is the best way of building a community and finding targeted leads. Contributing to existing conversations and providing valuable feedback is a great way to become recognized and assert yourself as a knowledgeable thought leader in that area of business. If you know the answer to something in the conversation, then by all means do join it. (This advice follows for all social media networks).
Things to look out for when searching for groups: you only get 50 groups that you can be a part of, so you need to make sure they are both ‘Highly Relevant’ to your search, and ‘Active’.
If you want to create your own group on LinkedIn, you can do it by clicking on the “Work” icon on the top right hand corner of your homepage, then selecting “Groups” and “Create a new group”.
Then you’re ready to add the group to your “Featured Groups” section on your company page. Don’t make your group about your company; try to build a community around a certain subject instead, and give value and a reason for people to join.
You can follow hashtags just like on Instagram. Use them to get discovered (LinkedIn recommends using three to five hashtags per post), to expand your network, and to find conversations that are relevant to your industry.
Networking on LinkedIn
Why is networking so important? Because at the end of the day people connect with people, and people buy from people. So by developing good relationships you’re not only increasing visibility and potential sales, but also putting yourself in the path of potential collaboration, career advancements, and personal growth – increasing your opportunity to meet prospective mentors, partners or clients.
So let’s dive right into networking on LinkedIn.
Networking is networking, whether you do it in person or online: there are certain rules or points of etiquette that you’d follow when meeting someone for the first time.
Getting to know someone on LinkedIn may start with sending out a connection request. By personalising this request (even if you know the person), and introducing yourself, the chances of your request being accepted become much higher. You don’t have to overthink this; a simple “from looking at your profile I’d love to be a part of your network” will do.
Connections matter on LinkedIn, but this does not mean that you have to be connected to everyone. Choose your connections with intention, not just randomly. Before you start targeting everyone, you need to have considered who your audience is. Are you both going to gain value from being connected?
How to find people? First and foremost, you should be following up every real-world business connection you make with a LinkedIn connection request. But it is also valid to make connections with people you haven’t met before. (In this way LinkedIn differs in etiquette from Facebook, where you’re considered a bit weird for ‘random adds’).
Advanced search is a great tool to identify the exact type of person you’re targeting (you’ll have to select ‘All filters’ in the search to get to it). You can filter by location, companies, schools, industries, etc. When you’ve set parameters for a search, you can create an alert so that new people joining LinkedIn who meet your criteria will be brought to your attention.
As mentioned before, more or less the same rules apply to online networking as to in-person networking. Be polite, and always offer before asking anything. Try and get to know the person you’re talking to, and offer your help first. People love to talk about themselves, so always give them a chance. They will more likely to listen to your story afterwards.
This means you need to avoid sending out a sales pitch as soon as someone accepts your connection request; an action that is almost guaranteed to get no results, and will most likely annoy your prospect. Conversely, having an attitude of “how can I help someone by providing value” instead of “what can I get out of this” can lead to great things. Just read the book “Give and Take” by Adam Grant.
When you make people feel good about themselves, they will be more likely to talk to you. Don’t be pushy, and after you’ve connected with someone or had a good conversation, follow up within a few days. Thanking people for their time or help will also go a long way.
LinkedIn is a social media platform, so the same rules apply when it comes to socialising on the platform as in other places. When you don’t share content (curated or your own) with your connections, you’re not giving them a reason to follow you. Also, if you’re inactive (not liking and commenting on other’s content) you will become invisible on the platform. Taking some time out every day (15-30 mins) that you dedicate to building and nurturing these relationships will come back to you tenfold.
If you want to go the extra mile, endorse the skills of those you’ve been in contact with. This is just a small amount of time on your side, but the people you endorse will most likely remember this act of kindness, and chances are they will reciprocate it, as well as paying more attention to what you do.
LinkedIn provides different tools to help measure your data and analytics to find what is working. The Analytics tools is available on your Profile page, and you can track things like visitors, updates and followers, and underneath each post you’ll be able to see how specific content performs – tracking shares, impressions, or click-through rates, amongst others.
The tools below are all provided by the platform itself:
Lead Gen Forms – is an easy way to collect leads from your profile
Showcase Pages – in case you have different customer segments, LinkedIn offers a clever segmentation tool
LinkedIn Scheduler – automatically provides your availability via InMail
LinkedIn constantly rolls out new features, such as ProFinder, which is a tool that connects freelancers with companies who need freelance work (unfortunately, this service is only available in the U.S. right now).
So let’s sum this up.
From attracting affluent customers to reaching new, professional audiences, LinkedIn is the best tool to engage with your audience organically. Even though the overall engagement and click-through rate is lower compared to other social media platforms, it is still a great way to drive eyeballs to your blog or website because it achieves such strong conversion rates. What’s more, people on LinkedIn are there to do business – so intent is higher.
Networking is a long term investment that can open doors to new opportunities, and expand your support network. This may mean that you have to step outside of your comfort zone, but…
S/he who dares wins, right?
Designer. Founder of Trendeavour. Fashion & retail specialist by day, content creator & digital marketing geek by night. Coffee and instagram addict. Crazy about her dog.
Such an insightful informative post thank you!
Thanks, Becky! So glad you found it helpful 🙂