Now you have a profile that brands you, and you’ve been connecting with the right people. You’re two-thirds of the way there. To wrap up your LinkedIn campaign is by engaging with your connections on LinkedIn.
I’m often asked by my clients how often they should use LinkedIn. My inclination is to tell them, like me, at least 45 minutes every day of the week, but I know that is unreasonable for them.
So I suggest at least half an hour, four days a week. Still their eyes gloss over and I hear some groans of protests. I stay firm on this requirement.
Why is it important to be on LinkedIn often? Because to be on top of mind, you need to be present. In other words, you must communicate with your connections to brand yourself successfully.
Here are six very simple ways to communicate with your connections.
This is the easiest way to communicate with your customers and brand yourself as a thought leader in the LinkedIn community. However, what you write must be carefully thought out and must add value.
I’m not talking about tweet-like updates (although you can share updates to Twitter). I’m talking about illuminating updates that prompt participation. I recently shared an update that demonstrated how nine out of 10 people prefer extraversion over introversion. See it here.
By using LinkedIn’s “Publish a Post” feature to share your writing with the appropriate audience, you are gaining visibility and, therefore, enhancing your brand.
Again, it’s important that your writing adds value to your connections. If it doesn’t, you’re wasting your connections’ time.
Another great way to educate your connections is by being a curator. A curator is a selfless LinkedIn member who shares the writing of other LinkedIn members. In addition to educating others, you are building strong relationships with your fellow writers by sharing their writing.
Don’t forget to “Like,” “Comment,” or “Share” your connections’ updates. This shows you appreciate the efforts they’ve made to contribute on LinkedIn.
Note: liking an update is a nice gesture, but commenting means more; as it shows you’ve taken the time to read what your connections’ shared.
Participating in Groups
Groups went through an overhaul more than a year ago. Some believe that this feature may have suffered from LinkedIn’s decision to eliminate the ability to find people by occupation. You can only find someone within a Group if you know their name.
Nonetheless, it’s important to participate in conversations going on in your particular Groups. When you participate in a group discussion, your connections will see your input streaming on their Home Pages.
You’re allowed to join 50 groups, and some believe you should join the maximum amount. In my opinion, only join the number of groups you can maintain. For someone to participate in 50 groups on a regular basis would require a great deal of work.
Sending Direct Messages to Your Connections
LinkedIn made another change in the way you communicate with your connections. Now instead of sending individual inmails, all your correspondences are grouped together in a stream. It takes getting used to, but it was proven to be effective.
Every once in awhile you should send a “ping” to your connections, letting them know how you’re doing in your job search. This is another way to stay top of mind.
Keep in mind that your messages don’t have to always be about the job search. Sometimes it’s nice to send an informal message, commenting on your connection’s daughter’s soccer game.
Important: don’t make your first message to a connection a sales pitch. They will hate that and might drop you from their network. Work your way into developing a relationship first.
Endorse Your Connections for Their Skills
You’ve probably read many opinions from people on the topic of Endorsements–here we go again. Add me to the list of people who prefer receiving or writing thoughtful recommendations as opposed to simply clicking a button. And I’m not alone.
But in all fairness, Endorsements have a purpose greater than showing appreciation for someone’s Skills; they act as a way to touch base. In other words, they’re another way to communicate with your connections.
Some of you may have been wondering, “What about the illustrious Jobs feature?”
I’m not a huge fan of this feature, as it encourages some people to use LinkedIn as a job board only. Although this feature is rated by CareerXRoads to be the second most effective job board (Indeed.com is first), I tell my workshop attendees to use it more as a research tool.
In Jobs you can identify who posted the position you’re seeking–a nice feature. You can apply directly to the company’s website–no big shakes. And if you upgrade to Job Seeker Premium–at the tune of thirty dollars a month–you can see how you stack up to the competition, as well as the company’s hiring trends.
Use the Companies Feature
I saved one of the best features for last. Companies epitomizes networking on LinkedIn. It allows you to find people who are in a position to help you. It encourages you to be proactive.
In my LinkedIn workshop I show the attendees how to find people in companies to connect with.
- Selecting a company for which you’d like to work;
- Choose second degree connections;
- type keywords in Advanced Search;
- choose “current” for currently working there;
- type the person’s title, and;
- indicate the company’s geographic location.
Once you’ve located the person with whom you’d like to connect, you manually connect with said person by going to their profile, clicking “Connect,” and (very important) writing a personalized invite.
Engaging with your connections is the only way to stay top of mind. You may have the best profile ever written and 5,000 connections, but if you are not active on LinkedIn, your results will not be rewarding.