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Ask LinkedIn Lindsey: Networking

career executives linkedin features profile young professionals Apr 09, 2024
Ask LinkedIn Lindsey: Networking

If you’re on LinkedIn, you probably already recognize the importance of a professional network. Success and growth don’t happen in a vacuum. We all benefit from others teaching and supporting us. Plus, it’s so gratifying to help your colleagues out, too. But practically speaking, how do you build your network? And who should be in it? I’m answering these networking questions and more in this installment of my Ask LinkedIn Lindsey series. Let’s get to it. 

Q: I want to build my professional network on LinkedIn. Where should I start? 

A: Before we get to the nuts and bolts of how to build your network, it’s important to take a step back. First, ask yourself why. Without a clear goal in mind, you won’t be able to determine who should be in your network. For example, do you want to find a career in a new field? Are you looking to learn from people in your industry? Once you’ve figured out what success looks like, you can take the steps to build your network toward that end. 

Q: I have a clear professional goal I want to accomplish through networking. What should I do next? 

A: Great! That clarity is invaluable. Next, you’ll want to decide who should be in your network. Is it founders? CEOs? Teachers? A mixture of all three? This is what I call your “Who Pie.” Having a clear picture of your audience will be essential for developing relevant LinkedIn content. Now that you’ve decided who’s in your target market, it’s time to build it and assess your existing network. I use The CRROWN Method™ with my clients—an intentional, repeatable way to determine exactly who you want to be in your network—and who shouldn’t. You don’t need anything fancy to manage the process. A simple spreadsheet will keep you organized as you work through the list. 

Q: My career has evolved but my LinkedIn network hasn’t. Is it okay to remove LinkedIn connections? 

A: Absolutely. There is a time and a place to remove LinkedIn connections. One example might be if your network is heavily weighted toward a specific market and you move. You probably won’t need to maintain connections with printing vendors in Washington, D.C., for instance, if you move to California. At the same time, I would caution you to consider first whether those “old” connections still offer value. Most opportunities come from your existing relationships. 

Q: How often should I reevaluate my network? 

A: About once a year, reflect on the state of your network. You can export your contacts and go through them one by one if you want to, but you certainly don’t need to do this regularly. Instead, frame your existing network through the lens of a professional goal. Now consider, who in your network can help you reach it. Who in your network could introduce you to someone else? As an example, I wanted to appear on more podcasts. So, I looked at which other podcasts the hosts I knew had been on so that I could ask for an introduction. 

Q: I’m scared to build my network too big. What if competitors steal my contacts?

A: I’ve heard this question for years! While valid, fear shouldn’t hold you back from building your network the right way. If you have an open network, your connections can see who’s in it. But, contact stealing is a pretty slimy move. Would you really let someone with that sort of reputation into your network in the first place? If you want to keep tabs on competitors without letting them into your network, follow them and tap the bell on their profile page instead of connecting with them.

Networking on LinkedIn can be a clear, straightforward process. It’s a skill every professional can benefit from mastering. You never know what opportunities your future holds when you take the time to network the right way. As they say, success is often more about who you know than what you know. 

Want to make your first impression really count? Updating your profile is simple with The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile Examples Guide. In it, you’ll find more than 20 pages of inspiration from top-notch LinkedIn profiles. Check it out, and go build deeper connections on LinkedIn.


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