How to Market Yourself to Your LinkedIn Network
Optimizing your profile is one of the best ways to market yourself effectively using LinkedIn. Another is to be alert to how well you’re communicating with your LinkedIn network connections.
Whether it’s automatic (like when you update your profile and LinkedIn automatically notifies your network through a Network Update) or self-generated, this communication becomes your ongoing message to the members of your network and keeps you in their minds and (you hope!) plans.
The most effective marketing occurs when people don’t realize you’re marketing to them. After all, the average American sees all kinds of marketing messages throughout their day. Your goal is to communicate often but not be overbearing about it so your message subtly sinks into people’s minds. If you do that, people will think you’re Grrrr-eat! (Hmm, are you hungry for cereal?)
So when you’re contemplating how to effectively communicate with your network connections, keep these points in mind:
Update your profile when appropriate: Updating your profile means that you’re sending an update of your newest projects to your network so that your connections know whether they might want to consider involving you in their own current or future projects. You don’t need to update your profile as often as you update a blog, but you certainly don’t want to leave your profile untouched for months on end, either. Useful times to update your profile include
Getting a new job or promotion
Starting a new freelance or contract job
Launching a new company or venture
Adding a missing piece of your Experiences section, like adding a new position, updating the description of an existing job, or clarifying the role of a group or interest on your profile
Taking on new responsibilities or duties in any of your endeavors
Take advantage of the Share an Update feature: When you specify your current endeavors, several things happen. Your profile reflects what you enter here, your network connections see what you enter here when they read their Network Updates about you, and you start to build your own microblog, in a sense, because people can follow your natural progression.
Search for, and join, any relevant LinkedIn Groups that can help you reach your target audience: It’s a good idea to participate in these groups, but whatever you do, don’t immediately download a list of all group members and spam them with LinkedIn messages.
When you join the group, you’re indicating your interest in that group because your profile now carries that group logo. Membership in such groups gives you access to like-minded people you should be communicating with and adding to your network. Spend some time every week or every month checking out LinkedIn Groups and networking with group members to grow your network.
Ask appropriate questions of selected people rather than the whole network: When you use LinkedIn Answers to ask a question or gain more knowledge about something, rather than blast your entire network with your request, send a personalized invitation to only those members in your network who seem the most likely to have the knowledge you need.
*Participate on a regular and consistent basis: The easiest way to ensure a steady stream of contact with as many people as you can handle is to dedicate a small but fixed amount of time to interacting with the LinkedIn community.
Some members spend 15 to 30 minutes per day, sending messages to their connections, reading through the Questions and Answers pages, or finding one to two new people to add to their network. Others spend an hour a week, or as long as it takes to create what they’ve set as their set number of recommendations, invite their set number of new contacts, or reconnect with their set number of existing connections. You just need to establish a routine that works for your own schedule.