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This week my LinkedIn connections passed the 10 000 mark, and I got to thinking that if this was announced, most of the responses would be something along the lines of “So what?”. Anyone can get 10 000 connections on LinkedIn with enough time and effort. Deriving real value from your LinkedIn connections is another thing entirely. Here are four of my best suggestions.
1. Who are you connected with?
It is very easy to send out connection requests willy-nilly and to accept every LinkedIn connection request that comes your way, but what is the purpose? My suggestion is that develop a strategy with clearly defined goals and objectives you want to meet and a plan on how to meet them before you start participating on LinkedIn. If you are using the professional social network to develop new business opportunities, you must ensure that the people you are connecting with are relevant. My advice would be to connect with the following:
- Decision makers within the organisations you are targeting. This should also include recommenders, technical evaluators and potential gate keepers
- Known influencers such as social media influencers that your prospective clients follow
- Editors and journalists who write for publications to which your prospects and clients subscribe
- Existing and past clients (preferably those who were happy with your services) who can potentially provide recommendations and endorsements
- Past employers who will be willing to add recommendations to your profile
2. What content are you sharing?
Connecting with someone is the first step. What happens thereafter will determine whether there will be ongoing engagement or not. If you want to guarantee that you will make connections, develop a content strategy and publish original content that is interesting, value-adding, educational, compelling and interesting. Your thought ware and opinion pieces should be relevant to your audience to achieve maximum effect.
3. How engaged are you?
If people are connecting with you, take the time to monitor their updates. Ensure that you READ their content before sharing. Most authors welcome comments. Bear in mind that if you are commenting on articles which are shared, people will see your comments and you will get more visibility.
Go the extra mile and create groups. You are allowed a maximum of 10, so think carefully before you do so. Consider what you will use the group for, who you will invite/accept and the content and discussions you will share. My advice is to moderate members and discussions to keep your groups clean and relevant.
4. Are you managing updates?
If you are producing great content, be sure to share with your connections more than once and use all the features and functions available on the LinkedIn platform. Besides posting updates with links to other platforms such as your blog, YouTube and your website, use the LinkedIn publishing platform.
Your connections who follow you will receive updates on LinkedIn and email every time you publish a new article. Furthermore, articles published from LinkedIn are also supported by social media sharing links so your content not only gets shared by other LinkedIn users, it is also shared on Twitter and LinkedIn. Use a social media management tool (my preference is Socialoomph) to post regular (don’t overdo it) updates to your connections and groups.
LinkedIn also provides group administrators with a weekly update function where you can send announcements to group members. Use this wisely, because users can unsubscribe from announcements.
It is all well and good amassing thousands of connections on LinkedIn, as long as you are doing so for the right reasons. Have a strategy and plan for starters. Choose carefully who you connect with, make sure you are sharing great content, engage with your connections and manage your updates carefully.
Image: Nan Palmero.