The word is out. LinkedIn joins Instagram as, arguably, the hottest social media platform on the market right now. With the level of buzz the "New LinkedIn" has been receiving the past six months, savvy marketers and content creators have begun to revisit the platform (if they ever left).

On a personal note, when it comes to sales and relationship building, LinkedIn has been the top-performing channel for my own business in recent months, and second place isn't even close.

Here are eight strategies that have been successful for me--and many others--when it comes to increasing high-quality LinkedIn connections quickly and for free. 

1. Use LinkedIn Groups to connect with others in your industry. 

Use LinkedIn Groups as a way to build a relevant network with others active in your industry. After joining a group, you'll be able to see a list of members, which are most engaged and more. From there, go down the list and send these users a connection request to get the ball rolling.

Important Note: Once you get a solid base of connections (800 is my personal recommendation), slow down on this sort of outreach and let the majority of connections come to you. This will ensure your network is as organic and engaged as possible.

2. Use long-form posts to tell an inspiring story.

This is the big one. If you've logged onto LinkedIn any time during the past six months, you've probably seen these types of posts. Long in length, short and staccato in sentence structure, and uplifting in its message, these posts go viral on a daily basis. 

The rule of thumb here is to begin with a "hook" (approach it like you would a headline), never go over 2-3 lines of text (this increases readability), and to be vulnerable. Tell a story about a time you made a mistake in your career. What lessons did you learn from that experience?

For reference: If this style of post were a sport, Josh Fechter would be Lebron James. Check out his posts if you'd like a solid blueprint on this structure. 

3. Republish articles on LinkedIn.

Lucky for us all, it isn't taboo to republish past work on LinkedIn. This strategy saves you time, and it's a way to breathe life back into content that might otherwise be collecting dust. Just be sure to include a link to the original article, a call to action, and a blurb providing context to the piece you're sharing.

For reference: My fellow columnist Justin Bariso does a terrific job at this.

4. Share trending articles.

When you're in a crunch and don't have the time to write a long-form post or article, sharing trending pieces from other LinkedIn users is a solid alternative. To avoid being stale, be sure to add 1-2 sentences of your own commentary on the piece you're sharing.

5. Use your headlines for social proofing.

No matter how you decide to craft your LinkedIn headline, be sure there's some sort of social proofing in it to catch the attention of other LinkedIn users. If you write for a top-notch publication, put it in your headline. If your company has helped one million people learn how to program computers, put it in your headline. 

6. Network with LinkedIn influencers and tag them in your content. 

Use the same discretion with this tactic as you would any other social interaction. Tagging an influencer in your post is only okay after you've established a solid relationship with them, and the post is relevant.

Don't ever spam influencers. Add value first by commenting on their posts or messaging them.

7. Engage, engage, engage.

Take a few minutes per day to thoughtfully comment on other people's posts, articles and videos. After you do this on a few posts, send the person a connection request. They'll be much more likely to connect with you if you're a familiar face.

8. Publish a video.

This past August, LinkedIn unveiled native video on their platform. Because this feature is still relatively new, the algorithm is currently prioritizing video content. Additionally, because there isn't much competition when it comes to LinkedIn video yet, you'll have a much higher chance of making a lasting impact across the medium. While I personally haven't published a video on LinkedIn yet, the feature has driven incredible results for many content marketers.

Side note: Keep your eye out for live streaming to roll out on LinkedIn. This will be another opportunity to increase your follower count.

For individuals and brands of all kinds, there is a big opportunity on LinkedIn right now. One of the easiest ways to reap the benefits the platform has to offer is to beef up your number of quality, LinkedIn connections. Go get started today.