Since its launch in 2003 LinkedIn has grown enormously and has gone on to become the veritable ‘Who’s Who’ site for many industries.

The latest figures available from June, 2013, show that LinkedIn had amassed a membership of over 200 million registered users across 200 different countries.

What connects all of these LinkedIn users is business. That’s what makes LinkedIn the ultimate social media networking tool for professionals. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to expand your reach, find content, explore opportunities, recruit new talent or build and manage a powerful network, LinkedIn is where it’s at. The simple fact is if you’re serious about business networking, then you really need to have a LinkedIn presence.

Using LinkedIn to build and manage a more powerful network.

The list of tools available to LinkedIn’s network users is growing exponentially. However, whilst this might be a boon for businesses, it can also cause problems. The tools will only ever be useful if they are used carefully and appropriately. It’s important to remember that not every tool will be suitable for your business: it’s also important to remember that some network users will not always choose to participate with, or be amenable to, every tool in LinkedIn’s armoury.

So whatever tools you decide to use to further your business network should be used cautiously. How can you identify which tools are appropriate for your business network, and which could harm your reputation? Well, if you choose to follow some of the unspoken, but accepted LinkedIn rules you won’t go far wrong.

LinkedIn networking: 9 recommended strategies.

Do:

  • Keep your profile professional. Think of it as a brochure, and your first point of contact with potential networking connections. Use appropriate images, and make sure your information is correct and always kept up to date.
  • Only join the groups that are relevant and appropriate: you don’t have to join every group that your connections recommend. Some will be relevant to your industry: others won’t. Periodically check through the list of groups you subscribe to, and leave those that no longer produce results.
  • Maintain an active presence: when members of your network post interesting articles, don’t be afraid to comment on these. Playing an active part in discussions will only help make your profile more recognisable.
  • Only seek endorsements which are a testament to your skills and expertise: having unnecessary endorsements won’t bring any long-term benefits. In fact they may be counter-productive and detract from any relevant testimonials which endorse your key skills.
  • Don’t be afraid to post video content to re-enforce your key skills: images speak louder than words, and their effects can be longer lasting. If you have access to video clips that will help existing members or potential members of your network understand what skills you can offer, then share these with your network.
  • Use your profile as productively as possible: make sure you add any glowing references you might have received that sing the praises of your work. Post these references in your profile, and remember to include project or publication URLs.
  • Consider the wording on your profile carefully: if you want to connect with other users and build your network, then it always pays to carefully construct personal messages. Don’t simply rely on the standard ‘Join my Network’ message. Write personal invitations. These can help to kick-start relationships, and will demonstrate that you were prepared to put in the time and effort to cultivate new connections.
  • Reach out to new connections: Find meaningful connections and look for the common ground between you and other potential connections based on their profiles. Invite them to join your network and make them aware of how a new burgeoning relationship can bring reciprocal value.
  • Write meaningful recommendations for other connections: any endorsement of a colleague’s skills should be authentic and meaningful. You don’t write recommendations simply to receive a mutual endorsement. You recommend then because you genuinely respect and want to recommend their services to others in your network. It might ultimately lead to them endorsing you at some point, but that is incidental.