At a glance, LinkedIn and Twitter are about as different as two social networks can be. Twitter is microblogging, LinkedIn has serious publishing power for longer form content. Twitter can be laid back and more conversational, whereas LinkedIn is typically more professional and even formal.

If you're like me, you probably use Twitter and LinkedIn in very different ways. At least, I used to.

On Twitter, I could be funny and even a bit outrageous. I participated in chats on hashtags and met tons of new people, gained a ton of new followers and followed a lot of different people I found interesting.

On LinkedIn, I accepted requests only from people I had already met or had some level of interaction with online. I was a bit stingy, I guess you could say, with who I allowed into my network. We were taught to be, after all; LinkedIn only wanted you to accept connection requests from co-workers, employers, professional connections and the like.

LinkedIn has evolved significantly over the last several years, though, and isn't just a job search site anymore. It's become the world's largest professional network, with over 313 million members in over 200 countries.

I recently took a big leap of faith and changed my LinkedIn strategy in a big way. I decided to use it more like I use Twitter.

I felt like I was missing out on a massive opportunity to connect in more meaningful ways with the huge professional population who use the site.

I don't know about you, but I've turned down thousands of connection requests from people I didn't know in real life (or know well from online interactions) over the years. Why was I doing that, because LinkedIn used to tell us to?

I went through my old invitations and accepted a few thousand pending connection requests. I also created a huge list of people I wanted to know and sent them connection requests. In no time, I had built my network out to about 10,000 people.

Have you thought about spending some time building your LinkedIn network? Here are a few reasons you should try it:

1. Exposure in 'Most-Viewed Connections' Gets You in Front of Influencers

At an industry networking event recently, two people came up at different points throughout the event to introduce themselves. Each one said they recognized me from their Most-viewed Connections on LinkedIn. When you have more connections, more people are viewing your profile, especially as they're checking out your request to connect. Expanding your LinkedIn network can result in real-world connections and opportunities!

2. More LinkedIn Profile Views is Great for Branding

I didn't get many LinkedIn profile views at all before investing the time in expanding my network. Networking is all about visibility and it can only help your personal brand to get more eyes on your accomplishments, experience and content.

3. More People Will Want to Tell You How Awesome You Are

LinkedIn's Skills & Endorsements feature is pretty awesome. It's a double-edged sword, though; having a lot of them looks great, but very few endorsements does nothing for your street cred. The number of endorsements I had when my network was only 300 people or so was embarrassingly low. Now, with over 10,000 connections, I get about 300 new endorsements per week!

4. More People Want to Know You & Share Your Content

The more people you know, the more people want to know you; once you're actively engaging on LinkedIn and building your network, the results of your effort multiply. People start coming to you--I now get between 100 and 300 connection invitations per week and up to 200 engagements on everything I post. Think of the extra exposure you can get with all of these people interacting with your content, reading, sharing, liking and posting it to other networks. If you could get in front of this many more people, why not go for it?

5. You'll Get Way More Website Traffic

Focusing on LinkedIn resulted in 4x the traffic from LinkedIn to my WordStream Blog in just four weeks! The audience for the branded web and blog content I'm sharing is just so much larger and more engaged.

6. More Eyes on Your Best Content

Did you know you can publish content right on the LinkedIn platform? I've been using this to republish content instead of just linking to it, as the engagement is so much greater. The content I publish straight to LinkedIn usually gets 1,000-55,000 views per post just on LinkedIn. If enough people view and share your post, it may be featured in LinkedIn Pulse, which exposes it to that many more people.

It's time to stop treating LinkedIn like a glorified resume site. If you're using LinkedIn the same way you were three or four years ago, take some time to explore the site and see what's new. Most importantly, reconsider your mindset and start treating it more like Twitter. Be more open, make the effort to meet new people with interests similar to yours, and get yourself out there as a publisher on the professional network!

Published on: Sep 17, 2014
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