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How I grew my LinkedIn network by 50% in six weeks

One of the things I do a lot of is training and coaching people who want to improve their use of LinkedIn.

The professional social media network has about 700 million registered users, and can be a fantastic place to learn, build genuine relationships, and extend your network.

But it’s also a misunderstood platform, and many people aren’t sure what they should be using it for, what they should post, or how to write for the platform. (If this sounds like you, feel free to get in touch with me).

The more I have used LinkedIn, the more I realise it’s essentially a professional branding platform. Unless your sole focus is sales, (in which case, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a useful, but expensive add-on), LinkedIn’s real benefit is seeing what your professional network is up to, their latest news, and getting access and insights from experts. HOWEVER, only about 1% of LinkedIn users ever actually post anything, and yet we all expect our feeds to be full of interesting stuff!

This is a huge opportunity. Given so few people ever post, if you make the (small) effort to post regularly, your content can have a massive impact.

The key is to consider what you want your professional brand to be.

Your professional brand

Now, even if you think you don’t have a professional brand, let me tell you, you do.

It’s the elements of your personality, skillset, knowledge and experience that your colleagues and clients probably refer to when describing or discussing you.

Why not take action and begin to control how you’re seen by others? Start to manage your professional brand.

For clients, one method I use is to ask them to tell me what they would choose to include on their professional “coat of arms”. They select four or five images that represent things like a personality characteristic they would like to be known for, what their technical expertise is, sector expertise, or an interest in a broader topic.

Content Pillars

Each of these ideas can form the broad topics you can create content for on LinkedIn. We call them “content pillars”.

Content pillars help keep you focussed on creating content, and begin to support how you are seen by your network (ie. defining your professional brand).

For me, my professional brand is built around five pillars:

  • A knowledge of and engagement with digital and innovation ideas
  • Modern leadership and equality
  • LinkedIn tips
  • Data breach and cyber
  • Pride in the work we do at Cannings Purple

These are areas relevant to my professional role, and things I would like to be associated with.

I could post every single day about why Counting Crows were the best band of the 90s, and still are, but it wouldn’t really support what I want to be known for professionally. So I’ve held back from that urge, and tend to focus on those five areas. Most of what I create for LinkedIn supports one or more of those pillars.

My LinkedIn Experiment

Over the last six weeks I’ve challenged myself to increase the amount of posting I’ve been doing on the platform.

The results have been really interesting:

1) More posting = more professional brand awareness

Well, this makes sense. The more you post, the more people will see your ideas, links and thoughts, and there’s a decent chance that at least one of your posts will encourage them and their followers to engage with you and your content. I used a LinkedIn analytics platform called Inlytics to measure the engagement and exposure of my content, and there’s no doubt, posting more has meant increased engagement. Some posts have seen engagement levels at 15%, which is very good.

Engagement is important because it means your content has nudged someone to do something; to take some sort of action.

2) Proactive building of your network works

I have designed a nice little system for making valuable connections with people who are in the same or similar space as me. Having relevant connections increases the chance that your content will resonate, and ultimately bring more value to your network.

My process involves the use of some third-party platforms to help streamline how I identify people likely to be interested in my content, how I approach them, and how we ultimately connect. For the details, you really will need to book on one of my LinkedIn courses, but the benefits of this have been twofold:

First, the number of people looking at my profile has skyrocketed by between 300% and 700%.

Second, my immediate LinkedIn network is now 50% larger than it was 6 weeks ago.

 

3) Real world still has value

One of the things I’ve been saying to people who agree to connect with me on LinkedIn is that although a virtual relationship is good, without at least some real-world interaction, there will be limited returns for both parties.

So after we connect virtually, I have been asking people if they’d like to catch up for a coffee (but making sure it’s easy for them to say no if they would prefer). I know that I am better in a one-to-one situation than networking in a room with 200 people, and as a result, some of those real-world meetings have been an absolute joy and pleasure. And who knows where those relationships will go.

4) People are interested in people

Without fail, putting some photos of me or my team into posts has been the biggest indicator of successful content. We like recognising people we know, and that has been a big spur of engagement activity. I like this because it means there’s a very easy, low-effort and simple way to build your professional brand – just put yourself in the picture, literally! It doesn’t have to be a cake bake, like below, but a photo of you with people you can tag at an event is so much more interesting than a grainy shot taken at the back of an auditorium of a screen that no one can see.

 

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Jamie delivers Cannings Purple’s corporate Linkedin training. This is a hands-on, practical Linkedin marketing workshop with attendees encouraged to bring their laptop to make real-time improvements to their Linkedin profiles, optimise their content and investigate the various methods of content posting and sharing on the platform. Contact Jamie today.

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