Be Bold in Growing Your LinkedIn Network

“In growing your network, you want it to be both diverse and concentrated,” personal branding expert William Arruda wrote recently in Forbes about how to cultivate a powerful LinkedIn network.

First, begin with why you’re on LinkedIn. What do you want to accomplish? How can growing your network help you do that?

Second, ask yourself this question: Who did you meet this week, who will you be meeting soon and who do you want to meet?

Third, take a few minutes every week to add to your LinkedIn network. Always send a personalized invitation, explaining how you know each other and why you’d like to connect.

As you build your network, make sure your profile presents you in the best light. Here are great profile tips from LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher and Landit CEO Lisa Skeete Tatum. They spoke this winter at the MAKERS Conference for women’s leadership.

Who did you meet this week? Did you start working with any new colleagues? How about vendors? Invite them to join your network.

What professional, civic and charitable organizations are you involved with? Invite key people from those groups to be part of your network.

Look at your email contact list, your Facebook friend list, your Twitter followers and so on. Identify the ones you want to invite to your LinkedIn network. The “grow your network” feature on LinkedIn will see who you already know based on your email address book.

At the airport recently, I ran into someone I met a few years ago at an event at my son’s school. We struck up a conversation and caught up on what was going on at our respective employers (opinions expressed in this blog are my own). To keep the connection going, I followed up with a LinkedIn invitation.

One of my professional associations, a roundtable for senior communicators, also had its quarterly meeting this week. At the end of each day, I sent personalized invitations to people I’d met. An even better strategy – one colleague sent invitations in real time during our roundtable discussion of timely issues.

Who will you be meeting soon? What’s on your calendar for the coming week or month? Will you be meeting new people? Send them an invitation in advance of the event.

When you meet in person, you’ll already be acquainted with each other’s LinkedIn profiles and you may find a great conversation starter. For example, maybe you know interesting people in common or your new connection is working on a project you want to learn more about.

Who would you like to meet? Are you working in a new area and want to learn from the luminaries in the field? Are there companies of interest you want to know more about? Are there second-level contacts you’d like to add to your network?

This is where the personalized invitation is especially important. Explain in a compelling and brief way why you’d like to connect.

Take advantage of the “people you may know” algorithm in LinkedIn. Is there anyone you’ve missed connecting with? Invite them to your network.

Lucas Buck recommends looking at alumni groups and people who have similar college degrees. He’s an area sales manager at Farmers Insurance who uses LinkedIn highly successfully to achieve his business objectives.

He spoke last fall at a networking group affiliated with my son’s school. What did I do the same day as the event? I sent personalized LinkedIn invitations to the people I met at the event, along with Lucas.

Here’s a sidenote about conference speakers. Introduce yourself and chat with the speaker briefly before they speak, if they aren’t too busy with final presentation preparation. Fewer people line up to talk with them before their presentation, as opposed to the larger group that tends to gather after the talk.

Back to LinkedIn, what strategies do you use to grow your network?

Be Bold in Your LinkedIn Profile

What’s one action you can take today to kick-start your career?

Tell a bold story in your LinkedIn profile.

Here are powerful strategies from this month’s MAKERS Conference. LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher and Landit CEO Lisa Skeete Tatum led a standing-room-only session on managing your personal brand.

What is a personal brand? The presenters cited Jeff Bezos, who says “your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”

To define your brand they asked a key question: what do people want you in the room for? Put another way: what is the best of you?

How you answer these questions will shape the story you tell about yourself in social media and in real life. (And if you’re looking to reinvent your brand, there are great ideas from bestselling author Dorie Clark.)

While a brand – for a corporation, a product or a professional – is built over time, here are actions you can take today for a bolder LinkedIn profile.

They’re from the LinkedIn tip sheet above, along with how I’ve made them work for me. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

  • Include a professional photo. According to LinkedIn, your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a photo. Here’s how to take a great headshot. If you don’t have a high-quality recent headshot, get one done this month.
  • Personalize your headline. Don’t use the default of your current job title. Show what you do and what makes you unique. Look at a variety of headlines for inspiration to see what catches your eye.
  • Add visuals. There are 20 million pieces of content on member profiles. Is your content among those? Post videos and pictures of your best work. Upload relevant presentations that can be shared with the public.
  • Post a compelling summary. Make it 40 words or more. Include keywords for your industry. Read others’ summaries to see what appeals to you. Writing in first person is stronger and bolder than third person.
  • Cover your past work experience. Your profile is 12 times more likely to be viewed if you list more than one position. If you’ve been working for several years, though, you can omit earlier positions that don’t add to your story.
  • Include volunteer experience and causes. This information increases profile views 6 times. If you’re looking for areas to engage, get involved with your company’s philanthropic causes and volunteer opportunities.
  • Check out LinkedIn Learning. We all get to be lifelong learners, and this feature offers hundreds of online courses. It’s a great reason to become a premium subscriber, which I did a few years ago for the analytics.
  • Share your contact information. Make it easy for people to get in touch with you. Include your email address, your blog, your Twitter handle and your company’s website. However, consider omitting your cellphone number.
  • Customize your public URL. Here are easy instructions. For consistent branding, use your name in the URL the same way you use it in other social profiles. Put it on your resume, business card and email signature.
  • Add skills and get endorsements. Be deliberate about skills you list. Your top 3 skill endorsements display in mobile search, so reorder them to show the ones that best tell your story. Give back to your network by endorsing others’ skills.

One of my goals for the MAKERS conference was to meet new people in every session. At the end of each day, I looked them up in LinkedIn. If I only had a first name and a company, I was able to search with that and find the right profile.

Then I sent personalized invitations (don’t send the default invitation!). Now we’re connected and can easily keep in touch as we build on the conference learnings.

How have you been bold in your LinkedIn profile?