When it comes to lead generation, social selling, and growing strategic connections, LinkedIn outranks all other social media platforms in terms of effectivity.
- LinkedIn is the social media platform of choice for 94% of organizations when it comes to distributing content.
- LinkedIn is ranked the highest by B2B marketers in terms of effectivity: 66% versus last year’s rating of 65%.
- LinkedIn’s effectivity rating is 11 percentage points higher than the runner-up, Twitter, which is at 55%.
How is this so?
A report by BI intelligence breaks down the demographics of social media users and finds that the majority of LinkedIn users consist of a highly educated, high-income user base, making LinkedIn the most advantageous platform not only for companies and organizations, but also for white-collar professionals looking to network.
If you are looking to leverage this professional user base for social selling, here are 10 ways to strategically grow your LinkedIn connections:
1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile to attract connections
Use a Professional profile picture.
The first thing you should invest in is your LinkedIn profile picture. Have a professional photo taken with a front-facing, or only slightly angled head shot and a white or neutral background taken in good lighting conditions. Here is a link to examples. Do not neglect this step. Users are less likely to trust you if they cannot see what you look like. How many times have you transacted with a person online whose face you have never seen?
Use a clear headline with relevant keywords.
The next thing you should invest in is the most important part of your profile, which is your LinkedIn headline. This is how people will find you. This headline is also what will either make them stay or leave once they land on your profile.
This professional headline is limited to 120 characters, and is best used to describe what you do and what your skills and experience are. You should include keywords relating to your profession, as this makes you more searchable to recruiters and other users that may be interested in networking with you.
Fictional example: Senior Sales Manager with campaigns delivering at least 30% to 40% profits to clients in the Americas and APAC regions.
Fill up the experience tab with optimized keywords.
Do not neglect this step as this gives viewers a more detailed look at your work experience, projects, employers, and clients.
Make it a practice to record the exact job title and job description from your HR. You can also find this in your employment contract.
Transform these longer descriptions into concise sentences and use keywords relating to your skills and professional experience.
Optimize your summary tab with optimized keywords.
Put an even more condensed version of what you put in your experience tab in the summary section. Here is a rough example:
- [Keyword: Senior Sales Manager] for [company name]
- Successfully handled teams of 20 to 50 person campaigns for [list client names] delivered on time and under budget
- Consistently delivers at least 30% to 40% profit margins
- 10 years experience in the Americas and 8 years in the APAC region
2. Use the Who’s Viewed My Profile feature to connect with relevant professionals.
On the lower right of your banner, you will see the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” tab on LinkedIn.
Clicking this tab will lead you to a more detailed chart showing your exact number of profile views for the last 90 days .
On the lower left area, you can find the “Viewers” section where you can see the list of users who visited your profile. You can click the tiny dropdown arrow on the right side to show only either “Members with full names”, “Semi-private members”, or both, in the selection.
Note that not all users who viewed your profile can be identified as some may have chosen to activate their privacy settings.
View those people who visited your profile and see how relevant they are to your industry or your profession. If it’s a hit, connect.
If you are an accountant and most of your profile views are coming from recruiters, high-ranking decision makers, or other professionals from the financial services industry, then you are optimizing your LinkedIn profile correctly. If your viewer results are disparate, then you need some more optimization to do.
3. Correlate your profile views with actions taken to know which actions led to increased engagement.
LinkedIn has a data set called “actions taken” which, according to the official LinkedIn blog, allows you to “see which actions you took that led to that specific increase in engagement.” These actions include making updates to your profile, connecting with people through invitations, messages, or endorsements, or joining a group.
Once you know which actions generated the most interest from viewers, you can apply those to your advantage.
4. Use LinkedIn premium features to help you strategize your profile optimization in more detail.
A LinkedIn premium account adds a search feature called “viewer insights” which, according to LinkedIn, lets you know:
- Where your viewers work
- What their industry and job titles are
- How they found your profile
- Which elements in your profile match the keywords they used.
Again, knowing these things can help you strategize.
5. Use LinkedIn’s search tools.
It’s not enough to wait for people to visit your profile; you should also actively take part in searching for professionals to connect with. In this case, you can use 3 techniques: LinkedIn’s basic search, advanced search, and boolean search.
Refine basic search by using name, company, job, etc. filters.
Basic search is simple. You just go to the basic search tab and input your search keywords. For example “Senior Sales Manager”. LinkedIn will then show a dropdown listing “Jobs for Senior Sales Manager titles”, “People with Senior Sales Manager titles”, and “Groups about Senior Sales Manager”.
You can narrow the search further by clicking the filter for Jobs, Companies, People, Groups, Universities, Posts and Inbox.
Clicking on any filter will list relevant results containing your keyword. Clicking the People filter, for example, will list all the user profiles containing your keyword.
Make use of LinkedIn advanced search.
Advanced search lets you add more specifications such as years of experience, function, seniority level, and school or past company.
Let’s say you are looking for a seasoned sales manager with at least 6 years of experience. This person must have graduated from a certain Ivy League school and has worked for a company like IBM or HP. You can enter exactly those values into LinkedIn’s advanced search tool and LinkedIn will produce a more refined list.
Boolean search saves time.
Here is a pdf file containing Boolean search tips for LinkedIn.
Image source: talent.linkedin.com
Using boolean search techniques lets you save time in that you can narrow your search down by entering search strings and modifiers straight to the LinkedIn search tab.
6. Engage with your connections. Establish rapport.
If your viewer results are relevant, this is where you begin to engage.
You can message a 1st-degree connection for an update or opportunity. You can also add a 2nd-degree or 3rd-degree connection to your network.
For other users, you can connect using the add as a friend option. This option will not require you to enter the email address of the user you are intending to add. If they accept, this means they are open to connecting and you can move on to messaging them.
7. Use groups to connect with prospects
The key here is relevance. Only connect with users who are relevant to your industry and your goals. Once you have a fair rapport going on, you can then ask to add them to a group you are creating.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can also join an existing group and engage with active members there. Just click the dropdown menu on the main nav bar, click on groups, and type your keywords.
The keywords you use to find the group may be specific to your industry where you and your connections can exchange industry insider news, tips, even recent talent movements, management changes, hiring and qualification updates, sometimes even salary ballparks.
Avoid posting click bait or using the group as a link dumping site. Become an active participant by engaging in discussions.
8. Market your LinkedIn profile
To increase your reach, add the link to your LinkedIn profile to your email signature, to your blog page, portfolio page, and resume.
9. Participate in influencer-initiated discussions
Posts by influencers usually garner plenty of attention and engagement. Follow influencers in your industry and get involved in discussions in the comments section of their posts. Share thoughtful replies and communicate with other commenters.
10. Make use of LinkedIn’s Publishing platform
Another way to attract viewers and strategically grow your LinkedIn connections is to use LinkedIn’s content publishing platform.
Simply click the Publish a Post tab, which you can find on the right side of the header under the main nav bar.
After you have participated in your fair share of discussions, start sharing your own content that you believe will appeal to your target audience..
If you have a network of Financial Services professionals, for example, post things related to your industry. Share insights about the latest headlines from CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, or Thomson Reuters. Write articles with your own interpretations and predictions for certain issues affecting your industry.
The number of likes, comments, or shares you receive will help you determine which topics resonate with them
Every time you post something new on the platform, LinkedIn alerts your connections and followers. The best times to post, according to analytics aggregated by Hubspot from several authoritative sources are:
- Midweek – 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
- Tuesdays – 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
- Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays – 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., at 12:00 p.m., and from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
To spread your net even wider, share your posts not only to your own network but even to the groups you’ve joined. Make your posts public. This way, other like-minded individuals who are not yet first-degree connections can find you and connect with you.
Remember to always reply to comments. This is a great way to show your expertise and attract more useful connects.
If you’re going to be using LinkedIn for social selling, making connections should not be a game of chance.
Remember that goals should be SMART: Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-related. LinkedIn’s features and analytics provide the means for you to act on these goals and measure their success.
Of the currently over 430+ million LinkedIn members, you now have a list of guidelines to practice in strategically growing your LinkedIn connections. Whether your approach is outbound or inbound, both methods are covered in this list and the rest is up to you.
If you have questions about these tips or would like to share your own LinkedIn strategies, please leave a comment below.