It’s no secret that the key to success on LinkedIn is building a network of professionals through strong connections and reputation. This is easier said than done. 500+ connections and a strong network of the professionals in your field helps anyone grow in the eyes of their peers and recruiters, but sometimes it’s hard to start the ball rolling. Here are the 5 best ways to expand your network and start bettering your professional position.
1. Answer Questions: LinkedIn offers a knowledge market service similar to Quora or Yahoo! Answers that hosts a Q&A forum where involved experts get rewarded for answering questions. Searching LinkedIn Answers for questions or problems you can resolve will both garner gratitude from whomever is asking the question, and can show your expertise in a certain field. LinkedIn users prefer connecting with people who they think know a thing or two, especially in their field. By answering questions you can build a network based on the nature of the questions you address.
2. Request Introductions: If you want to connect with a 2nd or 3rd degree contact, (AKA a connection of a connection, or a connection of a connection’s connection) you can request an introduction from a mutual connection. Introductions act as a recommendation or endorsement that can provide a reason the user should connect with you. If a user is unsure about a connection, it’s always reassuring to get a recommendation instead of a random connection request.
3. Get a Position Recommended: The positions you’ve held and the time you spent at school can be endorsed by the users you worked under or beside. Getting a previous boss to recommend the work you did at your old job can show recruiters how you performed in the past, and what others think of you. According to LinkedIn, users with recommendations are three times as likely to get inquiries through LinkedIn searches, so receiving recommendations will get your profile more exposure and hopefully lead to some valuable connections.
4. Start a Group: Groups are LinkedIn’s mini communities that host discussions, surface job listings, and generally try to help its members in their professional development. Starting a group, building its members, and maintaining it can lead to a ton of connections, as well as a forum to curate the content you want others to see. Based on the nature of your group, you can meet other professionals in your field, and show some of your personality to the community. It’s time consuming, but building a powerful presence on LinkedIn is worth the time.
5. Connect, Connect, Connect: The absolute best way to grow your network is obviously through making as many connections as you can and pursuing the connections you think will be most valuable. LinkedIn provides many different avenues to find the people you may know and in turn the people you should know. Use the “Connect with Colleagues,” “Connect with Alumni,” and especially the “Connect with People You May Know” options to find possible connections, and quickly send the invitations to connect. Don’t be shy, and constantly be on the hunt for another connection that will help your professional situation.