Now that you have a profile that brands you and you’ve started connecting with the right people, you’re two-thirds of the way to your LinkedIn goal. To wrap up your LinkedIn campaign and solidify your powerful brand, all you need to do is engage with your connections.
I’m often asked by my clients about how regularly they should use LinkedIn. My inclination is to tell them, like me, they should use it at least 45 minutes every day of the week – but I know that is unreasonable for them. In fact, it borders on insanity for some.
So I suggest at least half an hour, four days a week. Still, their eyes glaze over and I hear some groans of protests. But I stay firm on this requirement.
Why is it important to be on LinkedIn often? Because if you want to be 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.
1. Share Updates
This is the easiest way to communicate with your connections and brand yourself as a thought leader in the LinkedIn community. However, what you write must be carefully thought out and must add value to people’s lives.
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 about how nine out of 10 people prefer extraversion over introversion. The response was tremendous, and I continued to brand myself as an authority on introverts.
2. Publish Posts
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 acting as 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 work.
Don’t forget to “like,” “comment,” or “share” your connections’ updates. This shows you appreciate the efforts they’ve made to contribute on LinkedIn.
3. Participate in Groups
Groups went through an overhaul more than a year ago. Some believe that this feature may have suffered from LinkedIn’s attempts to enhance it. (Not sure what I’m talking about? Read this article for an explanation of the enhancements.)
Nonetheless, it’s important to participate in conversations that are going on in your particular groups. When you participate in a group discussion, your connections will see your input streaming on their home pages.
To brand yourself effectively, be certain that the conversations you start or contribute to add value. Don’t indulge in the silly arguments that can pop up in groups.
4. Send Direct Messages to Your Connections
LinkedIn recently made another change in the way you communicate with your connections. Now, instead of sending individual InMails, all your correspondences are grouped together in an endless stream. It takes some getting used to, but it has proven to be an effective change.
Every once in a while, you should ping 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 something like your connection’s daughter’s soccer game. Doing this will brand you as a concerned connection, not one who thinks only of themselves.
5. 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 to simply clicking a button. And I’m not alone.
But in all fairness, endorsements have a purpose greater than simply 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.
Don’t get click-happy when endorsing your connections. This will make you appear disingenuous and damage your brand.
6. Use the ‘Companies’ Feature
I saved one of the best features for last. The “companies” feature 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 explain that the attendees should have a list of companies for which they’d like to work. It’s important to set foundations before applying for jobs at these companies. This means building a network of valuable people.
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 writing a personalized invite. Failing to send a personalized invite will hurt your brand; you’ll be seen as lazy.
Engaging with your connections is the only way to stay top of mind on LinkedIn. You may have the best profile ever and 5,000 connections, but if you are not active on LinkedIn, your results will not be rewarding.