LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with other professionals inside and outside your network. Be sure to complete your personal profile 100% before exploring additional ways to connect. Having a complete profile will help people recognize you, learn about you and want to connect with you. Connect with people who you have worked with, done business with, work in your industry (that you know) or those with similar interests. It’s best to start with people you know. Building your base with familiar friends and colleagues will give you a good start to your future network. Once you have your first layer of network, start exploring companies that are in your same industry. Find contacts within companies your business is looking to target.
Once you have a good “connection” base, start using your account to be “social.” Update your status a few times a week; include links, questions and updates on projects. Some may be interested in your current projects and want to comment or ask questions. Connect your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to share your status updates on Twitter as well. You can leverage both networks at the same time.
Once you’ve done all this, start exploring groups. There are tons of industry and professional groups on LinkedIn where experts and industry professionals get together for discussions, share ideas, ask questions and more. It’s important to participate in your industry groups where others are sharing. You’ll be surprised what you can learn and who you can connect with. This is a great way to build your network.
If you’re up to it, create your own group geared towards the customer you’re targeting. Be sure to identify the audience before creating a group. Once you design a logo, add some information and invite others, you can start conversations and build your visibility with interesting information. You’d be surprised how many are interested in the same topic you are. Professionals feed off one another, which is why LinkedIn has been such a successful social networking site.