LinkedIn LogoAre you getting the most out of your LinkedIn profile?

Growing your network is all about building productive relationships. As powerful as LinkedIn can be, if you’re not using it strategically, you’re not taking full advantage of all the platform has to offer.

Building Your Professional and Personal Brand on LinkedIn

Creating a profile is the first step. Make sure you include a headshot as well as a summary that describes you to a “T”. You want to flaunt to potential contacts what you are all about!

Headshots are important because they put a face with a name; establishing an immediate personal connection that isn’t possible through an email or phone call.

How much information—and personality—you include in your summary is totally your call; however, showing work examples will help build credibility and be a source of potential conversation starters. When I’m meeting a contact for the first time, I always make it a point to check out their LinkedIn profile first; so as to get a better sense of their past accomplishments.

Leveraging the Power of Shared Connections

Enough with the basics. Let’s get to one of the most powerful (and most underutilized) features LinkedIn has to offer —“Get Introduced”. It’s what allows you to connect with people that are outside of your network through a shared contact. It’s where the real magic happens!

All too often, people sit back and think just having a LinkedIn profile is enough. But that’s a passive approach. If you want to grow your network, “Get Introduced” will allow you to expand your reach far beyond what would have been otherwise possible.

When you find someone outside of your network that you’d like to connect with, just scroll down until you find the “How You’re Connected” information in the right sidebar. There you’ll see the “Get Introduced” option. When you click on the link, you’ll be prompted to select a shared connection and to provide a brief write-up about why you’re asking for an introduction (including a polite way for them to say no).

Being introduced by a shared connection is much more powerful than trying to “cold-call” someone. Yet, in all the time I’ve been on LinkedIn, I can count the number of “Get Introduced” requests I’ve received on one hand.

Talk about a missed opportunity!

Growing your network using LinkedIn requires a game plan; meaning you not only need all of the basics (headshot, summary, work experience, volunteer experience, etc.) but a blueprint, a scheme, a wonderfully drawn sketch…by which you can build connections in and out of your network and attract those who can assist your march up the yellow brick road.