Investing in your LinkedIn network is one of the best career decisions you can ever make. This means going beyond adding your professional experience and connecting with people whom you already know in real life.
I built my Chicago network from the ground up by taking 250 coffee meetings in 400 days and later publishing my experiences on LinkedIn. Every single job and client I have ever landed since then has come from LinkedIn. Either the hiring manager reached out to me directly after reading an article, or when I was interviewing, they looked at my LinkedIn posts as proof that I'm a good marketer and writer.
But Robbie, I have a business to run. I don't have time for coffee meetings, let alone time to figure out how to use LinkedIn effectively.
I hear you. The good news is, you don't have to do everything I did. Here are three simple steps you can take to start building better relationships on LinkedIn without sacrificing too much time.
1. Give people a reason to learn more about and connect with you.
A complete and accurate LinkedIn profile is a must-have because that is the first place your employees, clients, and investors look for you. If you don't already have a LinkedIn account, now is a great time to create one.
Here are some tips when updating your LinkedIn profile:
A great profile picture matters more than you think. Have a recent profile picture that reflects your brand. I recommend hiring a professional photographer, but if that is not an option, you can have a friend take a photo of you as well.
Tell a story, not a chronological list of your achievements. Have a compelling summary that tells your story in the first person. People love stories they can relate to within their own lives. Include not only what you do, but also why and how you do it. Don't forget to include a call-to-action at the end so people can reach out if they have questions.
Now is not the time to be humble. Add a description under each experience section, and make sure to add your accomplishments and supporting data. Again, focus on the story. How did you end up working there? What were some exciting projects you were a part of while you worked there? How did you learn and grow? You can also include relevant media attachments and links.
2. Identify the top 15 people you can help in the next six months.
This will include people you're already connected to on LinkedIn, as well as those you admire and would love to meet someday.
Start by exporting your LinkedIn connections to an Excel spreadsheet. Then start reviewing them in the order that you connected with them, highlighting the ones that excite you. Once you finish reviewing the list, copy all the highlighted names to a new spreadsheet. You'll access this spreadsheet regularly, so remember to save it with an appropriate name.
Next, take some time to look up and add names of people outside your network to the spreadsheet. These could be your favorite authors, speakers, and other influencers whose work you admire.
3. Dedicate 15 minutes a day to purposely learn and engage with your list on LinkedIn.
First, respond to any new messages, notifications, on connection requests. Then, pick a few people from the list and visit their profiles to see if there is anything exciting or new in their professional lives. If you're connected with them already, you can send them a quick message congratulating them on their new role, sharing resources they might find helpful, or making an introduction to a potential collaborator. You can also endorse their skills or write a recommendation on LinkedIn.
For those who are outside of your network, you want to learn as much as possible through their blogs, books, videos, podcasts, etc. before reaching out to connect. Take the time to actually implement some of their teachings so you have a first-hand experience to share with them. Busy and successful people are used to ignoring generic requests that ask for their time, money, or both.
You can add genuine value first by:
Asking yourself, 'how can I help this person?'
Not expecting anything in return.
Sharing specific stories of how much their work has personally impacted you.
Asking thought-provoking questions about their work.
Showing up and being persistent. Persistent = Annoying + Value
It took me four years of persistence to meet my idol James Altucher, a successful entrepreneur and best-selling author. He finally looked me up on LinkedIn, was intrigued by my work, and wanted to learn more.
How will you add value to your James Altucher?