With just under seven million unique users in Australia and growing, LinkedIn has become a networking tool you can’t ignore.
If you are limiting networking efforts to conferences, local industry meet-ups, CCI events, trade shows, networking groups or inviting people out to coffee, you could be missing the ability to connect and work with clients or colleagues more broadly across the state, country and even around the world. Within a deliberate and integrated networking strategy, LinkedIn can be used very effectively to develop and maintain solid professional relationships, especially outside your local area.
Before springing straight into your LinkedIn networking strategy, reflect on the basics. Why do you want to do networking? If you have a clear vision of where you are going, the rest will fall into place.
Make sure you decide on what you want and set some goals for all of your networking efforts. Once you have an understanding of what you want to achieve, Google your name, place your name in any number of search engines and see what comes up. When you search for a person’s name in any search engine, LinkedIn is almost always in the top three search results, meaning the first impression a potential client, recruiter, referrer or promoter has of you is generally your LinkedIn profile.
There are some really quick and simple things to get you started on a profile that showcases your unique personal brand, attracting likeminded peers, industry connections and recruiters:
- Make a custom URL for your public profile, this helps with search engine rankings.
- Include a professional profile picture that is a visual representation of who you are to the world.
- Under your current position in the ‘Experience’ section, add images, videos, documents and presentations to show what you do and what you are all about.
Networking has to be one of the most valuable ways of winning new clients. But to avoid the ‘time drain trap’ it must be done efficiently. The more targeted you are about who you want to build strong relationships with, the greater the likelihood of success.
Identify the people you should be networking with. What companies do they work for, what positions do they hold and who specifically do you want to target? Consider targeting potential customers, existing relationships you want to strengthen, second-degree connections, people you don’t know but should, mentors and coaches, potential partners or affiliates and potential team members or employees.
The most effective way of growing your network with meaningful connections is to draw your target audience to you. You can do this through a content marketing strategy that is focused on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to your clearly defined audience.
Before liking, sharing and writing any post or article, consider carefully the networking targets you want to connect with. Will they want to see your post? Is your article relevant to them? Is it possible to reference the name of someone from your target audience in the post?
Give your time, your advice, help get your connections to connect and especially give referrals. It will come back to you in more meaningful relationships, attract more beneficial connections and plentiful business opportunities.
Ultimately LinkedIn has become a very effective tool that enables you to build and maintain relationships with key contacts far and wide as well as to automate some of the local relationships you may not see every day but who are essential to your professional success.