How to Build a Large Professional Network on LinkedIn

social network

The fundamental principle of online social networking is to listen and find out how you can provide value to others. If your goal is to build a strong and beneficial social network, then you should begin every online interaction you have with this mindset.

The very essence of networking is to build mutually beneficial professional relationships, and you can’t really expect to receive advice, help or introductions if you are only thinking about what others can do for you, instead of what you can do for them.

The Essence of Social Networking

Networking simply involves developing the list of social connections who know you and are willing to expend social capital on your behalf by referring you to others who might be in need of your services. Traditionally, networking used to involve attending an event and meeting new people. In the last few years however, the process has taken a different dimension with the era of social media. With so many social media platforms, it is has never been quicker or easier to grow a professional network as it is now.

However, the focus should be on the quality and not necessarily the quantity of networking relationships you aim to develop. The true power of networking isn’t simply who you know, but also the people who are known by the people that you know: your 2nd and 3rd degree connections. That is the very essence of networking, and you can get a lot of valuable business opportunities from second and third degree connections.

Building Relationships

It is important to invest in your network and think of it as a long-term, professional development strategy. Building and nurturing your relationships by providing value and helping others in your network will allow you to get the help you need when you required it.

There are a few key success strategies for developing a reciprocal relationship.

Let’s go over several ways you can do this:

Always put others first.

Make your presence on social media platforms essentially about what you can do for people in your network. Think about not only how they can help you, but how you can add value to them. In other words, use social media to show your target audience who you are, and what you do, and then find out what your connections want and how you can help them. Keep the conversations about providing value for your audience.

Provide real value.

Give valuable content away to your network – no strings attached. The content should be meaningful and centred on really helping in your target audience without expecting anything in return. Keeping up with industry news is a great way to contribute to conversations and keep your audience updated. The key is to be a powerful information resource that interprets the latest news or information for your audience.

Make a lot of noise with your content by spreading it around through your website, blogs, videos and various social media platforms. Remember, you are aiming to spark conversations about you and your personal brand. Get people talking about you by posting meaningful content that is relevant to people in your target audience such as updates or latest news. This will demonstrate that you have up-to-date knowledge and a true interest in your career and industry.

Make sure you engage with others.

Rather than simply broadcasting messages to your network, make sure you also engage by regularly contacting people that are seeking help or particular information or even other people. Respond to questions or requests for help.

If someone in your network mentions that they are looking for a person to fit a particular role and it is not something that interests you, if you know someone, connect that person with somebody that you know will fit the role. Another way to add value to contacts in your network is to let them know of any opportunities you become aware of.

For example, you may hear of a social media consulting opportunity through one of the recruiters you’ve established a relationship with. Broadcast the role to your network to see if anyone that fits the bill might be interested. If you are known as someone who helps to solve problems for others, this will define your brand on the network.

By looking out for your connections, they will look out for you. When you can, connect for coffee or lunch with some of your connections from time to time, just to catch up and see how they’re doing. These techniques will allow connections to see you as a real person, and they’ll think of you when a new opportunity presents itself.

Define Your Social Media Voice.

Every business or brand online has a voice, whether it’s a conscious choice or simply by default. The way you communicate on different social media channels creates an impression that will stick with your target audience. Therefore, choosing a steady and consistent voice and tone for your personal brand is important. As you’ve learned throughout this course, don’t make the mistake of posting from a different voice or perspective each time you send a message to your audience.

This must be carefully defined even before presenting yourself on social networks. Your aim should be to brand yourself as an authority in your niche. If you are branding yourself as an authority, it is crucial to address your audience in a consistent voice across all of your social media properties. You do not want to make the mistake of addressing your audience in one voice today, and the next day as a totally different entity.

It will not come across as genuine or authentic, and will only serve to alienate your target audience. Therefore, before joining the conversation, decide what voice will fit your personal brand the best, and stick to it. If you communicate in a tone that is consistent and resonates well with your community, your target audience will feel more comfortable relating to you and they’ll be more likely to engage with you.

Here are some tips to help you discover your unique brand voice:

  1. Consider your choice of words. Be human. Avoid using impersonal, corporate words that makes you come across as arrogant or insincere.
  2. You are your brand. Make sure you are creating a favorable impression of yourself on your target market by communicating the best traits and features of your personal brand.
  3. Avoid jargon. Keep your words simple and personal, and avoid industry jargon or complex and technical terms.
  4. Use warm words that appeal to emotions (e.g. stress-free, happier, problem-solver, smarter) say more than cold, hard business jargon.
  5. Keep it brief: Do not over-elaborate. The most effective posts are those that are brief, succinct and straight to the point.
  6. Do Not Spam Your Network: A spammer is the worst label you can receive in social media. Spam has traditionally referred to sending people unsolicited e-mail constantly. However in social media, it’s taken on a different meaning now, and if you are labelled a spammer on a particular, you won’t get very far on it. If you don’t already know someone, don’t try to add them to your network unless that person has shown an interest in being part of your network.
  7. Be visible and consistent. Being a successful brand is all about visibility, consistency and popularity. The more visible you are in the marketplace, the more opportunities will come your way to establish yourself and your brand in the heart and minds of your target audience. The fact is, even if you have incredible skills, it will mean nothing if no one knows about you and only hear from you once in a while. Conversely, the more well established your brand is in the heart and minds of your target audience, the more people will want to engage with you.

However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be known by everyone, or be present everywhere. You just want to ensure that you are found everywhere your target audience is present, and you need to be out there actively building your brand by focusing on engaging with your target audience, each and every single day.

Every piece of content you create, and every message you send out should be geared towards building an emotional connection with your target audience.