LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful tools for expanding your professional network, but a tool is only as good as the person using it.
You’re still competing with other professionals for exposure, and that means that leveraging your potential better than your peers can give you a huge leg up.
The following tips can give you the advantage you need to flourish as a freelancer on LinkedIn.
#1 Do: Build Off Your Existing Network
A social media network doesn’t exist in a bubble, and the value of online connections aren’t all created equally.
While it can be enticing to build as large of a network as possible, you also need to take into consideration the value of each contact.
Start by importing your email contacts and let that serve as the platform for expanding your network outward.
#2 Don’t: Lose Sight of Your Real-World Connections
Everyone you’ve ever been in touch with is a potential lead on a new job or a glowing referral, but relationships still need to be nurtured in the real world.
Foster your online networking strategy in tandem with your real-world relationships.
Maintaining the standards of good company culture in the real world and online space will ensure that your LinkedIn contacts will have your back when you need them.
#3 Do: Reach Out to LIONS
LinkedIn Open Networkers are professionals who leave their connections open to random people. This makes them something of a hub of activity for the field they operate in.
The main reason to connect to a LION isn’t to get in touch with them directly but to instead key yourself into the larger pool of professionals that follow them.
Investigating the followers of a LION is a great way to meet people in your industry that you might otherwise never have even heard of.
#4 Don’t: Expand Your Network Too Fast
Becoming a LION can be a huge asset, but it’s a double-edged sword. A LION has access to a huge pool of followers that could number in the thousands, but those connections are inherently shallow.
The more connections you have, the more spam you will receive.
Nurturing a smaller and tighter group of professional contacts can keep your feed from being flooded with irrelevant posts and allow you to focus your attention on the people who are best able to help you develop your reputation in your field.
#5 Do: Establish Set Goals For Yourself
If building a serious professional network feels similar to taking on a second job, that’s because it is.
Consistently focusing on your LinkedIn profile is far more beneficial than periodically working on it once a month.
Set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day to focus on your LinkedIn profile.
You should find a balance between maintaining your connections to existing contacts and reaching out to new ones so you can find a nice equilibrium between quality and quantity.
By engaging regularly, you can get a much better feel for your own limits and not bite off more than you can chew.
#6 Don’t: Accept Every Connection That Comes Your Way
A successful LinkedIn network isn’t just about recognizing the value of your own connections. It’s about recognizing your own value.
Once you start building out a larger network, other people will take notice and want to be a part of yours.
Once you foster tighter relationships, it’s smart to set your own parameters for what qualifies as a worthwhile connection.
While it may seem superficial, establish several parameters a user needs to connect with you and be stringent with your acceptance.
#7 Do: Make The Most of Keywords
SEO (search engine optimization) may be most relevant for websites, but it’s valuable for professional networking.
Pick the 10 most valuable skills of yours and focus on them rather than flooding your profile with a limitless number of specialized talents.
By putting relevant skills that employers are most likely to search for, you’re broadening your appeal and opening yourself up to a much wider pool of potential job opportunities than you would with a larger but more specific set of skill listings.
LinkedIn, when used well, will help you grow your professional network better than any other type of networking.
While it seems that the ultimate goal should be to have 500+ connections, it might be better to have a smaller, closer-knit pool of professionals around you who will gladly help you access new freelancing opportunities.