In this post you’ll learn how to leverage LinkedIn well so as to grow your industry contacts and encourage the best connections for new business opportunity development.

LinkedIn can seem like an enigma in the professional online world. It is a hub where individuals can connect in a distinguished and business-like manner and be connected to for a variety of reasons, and yet it’s social media.

One of the reasons to connect through LinkedIn is to request a work relationship. But how do you encourage those who are looking for business to choose your profile and connect when you don’t already know them?

Here are 3 key ways to have and use a successful LinkedIn profile:

1. Complete your profile

  • Follow the steps that LinkedIn moves you through when you first sign up. You can also follow activities it suggests at the top of the page from time to time.

  • Have a full sized profile photograph.

  • Use KEYWORDS for your business sector while you write your profile.

  • Fill in all your work experience, skills and education.

2. Use your status wisely

  • Your status: this feature of LinkedIn can be used to entice others to come and look at your profile where you can encourage them to connect (especially potential clients). You can also update your status to encourage attendance to events, display important company updates or public reports, and help your company get noticed by those in your network.

  • LinkedIn sponsored updates: companies have the option to promote their status to targeted connections defined by attributes. Use this for your company blog or news as well as expert content like white papers.

3. Network (carefully)

  • Know your network: We suggest only linking with people you know so interactions are more genuine. This is so you aren’t endorsed by someone who doesn’t personally know your skillset.

  • Use existing contacts: Connect your LinkedIn to your mailing list. This makes sure you are adding people that are relevant to your profession.

  • Recommendations: Recommendations are written endorsements of a person rather than a skill and are great as quotes for putting on your CV or website. You can ask your connections to provide recommendations for your work. 3rd degree connections are hard to connect with on LinkedIn so having an introduction from a linked friend can make all the difference especially if they’ve recommended you.

  • Endorsements: Ask colleagues and clients you’ve worked with for endorsements (note you must be a 1st degree connection to endorse). Also, encourage others to endorse you by endorsing them first (reciprocation is a good way to develop relationships). You cannot delete endorsements but you can hide them from people looking at your profile which gives you some freedom. Not all endorsements automatically add to your profile – check your settings – for new skills you have to click to confirm you are happy to have them added to your profile. This helps prevent ‘joke’ or unsuitable skills being added to your profile.

  • Groups: On LinkedIn you can open up opportunities by joining groups with a common interest. Answering and asking questions in important groups gets you noticed professionally. You can search for appropriate groups and join in their discussions to further your network. Within the group you can ‘follow’ individuals so you have the opportunity to exchange ideas; later you can ask them to connect.

These are the basics tasks you need to focus on to grow your connections and use LinkedIn effectively, but there are more things to do for the advanced user. Read our article archive on how to use LinkedIn: