How to Better Engage With Your LinkedIn Network

how to better engage with your linkedin network

A two-pronged approach for success: presence and engagement

I’ve covered a few areas now about how to be effective on LinkedIn.  I’ve looked at whether you need a LinkedIn profile and then, creating a compelling presence.  I’ve also touched on how to start a conversation with someone new on LinkedIn. Here, let’s examine how to better engage with the community on LinkedIn, whether they are within your network or outside.

Write a few articles, get published

One of the easiest and most convincing ways in which you can capitalise on your presence is to write and publish articles directly  on Linkedin.  Many years back, LinkedIn Pulse was a news aggregation app, powering the content you saw in your homepage feed. Then, LinkedIn opened up to a select few influencers, asking them to come on board and write directly on the platform. Today, everyone – you and me included – has the opportunity to be part of this exchange of ideas. Your ability to create or share content is an integral function on LinkedIn, allowing you to share ideas, photos, documents or slides at large or just with your network of connections.

This ability to create your own relevant and unique content becomes part of your professional profile. What makes this more exciting is that unlike content waiting for an audience, you now have an audience (ie your connections) waiting for content because when you publish your article, you also have the ability to share it through news feeds and notifications.

As your content is visible on your profile, this means that members who are not currently in your network can either request to connect with you or follow you. This enables your next article to surface in their news feeds when it is published. Furthermore, if you set your profile settings to ‘public’, your profile will then be visible to everyone (not just connections), including your articles.

Some guidelines on writing articles on LinkedIn :

Headline every article with an image

Each article should be accompanied by a relevant and high-resolution image. There are many free stock photo banks which are accessible and provide a good range of high-quality photos. The reason for having an image accompanying an article is because the headline image for the article is immediately visible when someone is looking at your profile and we respond to visual stimulation.

Do not go for shock value imagery simply to bait people to read the article. In the long run, you will lose their interest and your credibility.  Images should relate to the topic, either support or enhance the article in some way.

A reasonable length for the article

Between 800 – 1200 words is a good length for someone starting out writing. If the article is too short, you don’t have the opportunity to get into the meat of what you’re discussing, leaving your reader with potentially generalising statements. If it is too long, then it may put a new reader off purely due to length. However, as a believer in long-form content, I advocate that there is always space and interest in well-reasoned pieces that bring well articulated and fresh insight.

Don’t simply put in a URL pointing to a third party site where an article may be published in entirety. The combination of a URL link and article headline are rarely compelling enough. This is also not a good practice because generally, you want to reduce the number of times a reader has to click to get to the final destination ie the more clicks required, the more you increase the chances for your reader to click away. This may work well for you as the writer as it saves you an amount of work to do but it comes across as lazy to your reader and requires them to do the work of clicking on more links to find out what you have to say.

Choose content wisely

You may ask, “what is a good topic to write on?” or “what would readers want to read about?”

The more relevant question is what topic do I know a lot about and can provide value on? Through my years of editing an HR magazine, many people asked me what they should write about when contributing an opinion piece and I always say the same thing. Rather than write about whatever seems topical, it is far better for both writer and reader, for the writer to focus on what he already knows, what he is good at and what he is passionate about because he will bring so much more to the discussion then.

Difference between a post and an article

On LinkedIn, you have two options for how you write a piece of content. The first is to write an article. This allows for much longer-form content and it sits in a specific area within your profile that is highly visible and easy to access. Readers can see all the articles you have written easily. The second option is to write a post. A post is targeted as a shorter piece of content. There is a word limit and the shortcoming of this method is that it shows up on your feed only. Therefore, it is best used for topical issues – evergreen content is best posted as an article. As more and more people post things, your post goes lower and lower down, losing readership unless you achieve a lot of discussion from third-party comments and likes.

Develop a daily/weekly schedule to ramp up your number of connections

Having a profile without adequate connections (and not to mention, a lack of followers) means that you do not have sufficient visibility. That said, you shouldn’t just connect to anyone. You need to be very targeted as to the people who you connect with. Others will also be looking at who you are connected to – what they see should make sense to them.

To increase the number of connections, you either wait for relevant people to ask to connect with you or you reach out. So the latter is critical as you cannot wait for others to make the first move. This move is also dependent on how visible you are in the network and how you interact with others through article writing and commenting on other people’s posts. The good news is that you do not necessarily need to have met the person you’d like to connect with, in order to send the request. However, you need to develop a good connection request message to ensure that the majority of your requests are accepted. The alternatives? Your requests are ignored or worse, deleted.

When sending a connection request, you can simply send the request or you can include a short note. Go for the latter because assuming this is a stranger, they would expect to get something personal from you indicating why you’re reaching out and what you hope to get out of this. Brevity, humour or straight to the point are generally good to keep in mind.

Once someone receives a connection request, they are very likely to want to check you out before accepting. They will take a look at your profile and if you have an article or two, these will likely be scanned. They will want to get a feel for who you are before they accept. Your profile needs to look alive and this is done by keeping your profile up to date, by the growth of your network and by the number of endorsements and recommendations you’ve received. It is also seen as more alive by the number of articles you’ve written and your activity ie comments you’ve made, posts you have shared as well as articles/status updates you have liked.

One thing you can do to drive value is to support some of the people you connect with. You provide this support by reading their articles, sharing them among your own network and commenting on other people’s articles or status updates. Such support is valued, so share with them that you are supporting them by tagging them when sharing or commenting. This is done by including the @ and their name in the comment or post which notifies them that they are mentioned.

There are many more ideas I can share so feel free to contact me if you need a LinkedIn profile makeover.

If you like this post, I hope you will share it. If you need help with your writing, with getting published or with strengthening your brand, feel free to reach out. 

#linkedin #personalbrand #presence #writing #connections
Five-person low angle photography courtesy Raw Pixel via pexels.com

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