For many years, LinkedIn was just a place to keep a copy of your CV online and job search. If users were posting content, it had a reputation for being full of puffery and brag-heavy. Your inbox would be full of spammy sales messages.
The platform has changed dramatically over the last year or two, and business people are using it daily to grow their network and opportunities. LinkedIn has almost 740 million members, 55 million companies, 14 million open jobs and nearly 7 million accountants. The social media platform’s members have the largest budgets, and it’s where people are expecting to do business.
Why use LinkedIn?
- To grow your network with valuable connections
- To raise your profile in the finance industry
- To open yourself up to new business leads and job opportunities
- To expand your accountancy and business knowledge
- To grow your confidence
How to grow your network
There are two types of connections on LinkedIn, those you connect with and those you follow. If you follow, they don’t have to approve the request, and you will see their posts in your feed, but they won’t see yours. If you send (or accept) a connection request, then you will see each other’s posts and can direct message each other.
But growing your number of connections alone won’t mean that you get more value out of LinkedIn. You have to work on creating meaningful relationships and cultivating your network.
12 ways to purposefully build contacts on LinkedIn
- First, work out what you want to get out of LinkedIn and work out what you’ve got to offer other people, whether that be a service, jobs, budget, skills as an employee or help and advice. There will have to be a two-way transaction of sorts to make a business relationship worthwhile.
- Use LinkedIn search to find content, people, companies, and groups relevant to you and interest you.
- Always read people’s profiles before you accept a connection request and before you send one. Get to know the person a bit, see what you find interesting, what you have in common and anything you could ask them about.
- Always send a personalised note with every connection request explaining a little about why you are asking to connect. This will be easier once you’ve properly read their profile.
- Attract people to you by creating and posting engaging content. A little over 1% of LinkedIn’s monthly users share content every week, so you can make yourself stand out and put yourself in that top 1% just by sharing content regularly.
- Show up consistently on the platform, do little and often. Keep posting content without obsessing over likes, and you’ll start to build your intuition for what works and what doesn’t.
- Overall, your posts’ engagement levels will have more to do with how strong your network is and how much you engage with others than what you post.
- If someone likes or comments or your post, your post will then show up in the feed of their connections. If you comment on their post, then potentially all their contacts could see it. This is how you can grow your reach beyond your network.
- If you post or comment, the first thing people will see of you is your name, photo and tagline so make sure these look good. If your tagline interests them, they will click to see your profile, so make sure this is bang up to date and has a compelling summary section to explain who you are, targeted at the type of people you most want to connect with.
- If you find role models or people you want to work for, have a look at the type of content they’re posting and commenting on. See what events they attend and what groups they are part of.
- Bring a positive attitude and always say thank you. If you read a post, an article, hear an interview or go to an event and somebody inspires you, tell them. It’s a brilliant and memorable way to connect and make their day at the same time.
- Curate your feed carefully by unfollowing liberally to ensure you see the most important things to you so that you can engage with them.
People are online now more than ever. They’re working from home, looking for opportunities, and networking online has become the norm. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow your finance business network using LinkedIn because you never know what options it will open up for you in the future if you put some consistent effort in now.
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Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and Merlin Entertainments.