Today, networking online is just as important as networking in person. And in the professional world, LinkedIn continues to be the most important social media channel for business development. It enables you to quickly build and grow relationships, strengthen your brand and stay top of mind with key individuals in your professional network regardless of where they live. LinkedIn also gives you a treasure trove of valuable competitive intelligence, which can help you gain a serious advantage over your competitors.

I know that many of you have LinkedIn profiles but you aren’t maximizing the platform because you’re busy, or you don’t know really how to use it or you just aren’t convinced that it’s worth your time. Let me assure you that it is 100% worth your time especially given that we have five generations in the workforce right now and clients are getting younger and are using social media more frequently.

In fact, to further underscore the importance of the social network, your LinkedIn profile is often the first or second Google search result when someone searches for you online. In addition, LinkedIn is free and easy to use.

To show you just how easy (and beneficial) it is to use, here are some quick and easy examples of actions you can take today to more meaningfully engage with your connections, strengthen your brand, position yourself as a subject matter expert and bring in leads: 

  • Did someone you know just land a new job? Spend two minutes sending them a quick congratulatory note. I have seen this type of interaction serve as the catalyst to reengaging a relationship, leading to a new client engagement over and over. This is the low hanging fruit – the very basic stuff that you should use to your advantage whenever you can.  You can easily send notes like this while on your morning and evening commute, seriously upping your daily business development activities.
  • Are you attending or speaking at an industry event? Tell your network about it by posting a LinkedIn status update. The benefit of this is fourfold – you can establish yourself as a subject-matter expert, find others with whom you can connect at the event, reignite relationships and stay top of mind with key connections.
  • Did you or a colleague write an article that would be valuable to your network? Yes, while your marketing team will post it to your firm’s web site and social media channels, you should go the extra mile and tap into your own valuable social network by personally sharing it from your LinkedIn profile. Otherwise, you are missing out on reaching a prime target audience.
  • Did one of your clients or a VIP contacts win an award, write an article or book, get appointed to a board or achieve something else noteworthy? Spend the time to congratulate them. Shining the spotlight on key connections is a great way to strengthen professional relationships.

None of these actions are time consuming or complicated, but can yield major results in generating leads and enhancing your brand. LinkedIn easily enables you to keep your network “warm” and stay top of mind with your key connections right from your desk or mobile device.

That being said, when you engage online, you must do two things – make your professional network feel good and offer valuable content that showcases your expertise on a consistent basis. These light touches will help to keep you top of mind with your contacts. They often lead to new business, or at the very least, can help you elevate you as a subject-matter expert, which can in time lead to new business and referrals. Remember, we work in what is largely a relationship business, so use every tool you can to strengthen and cultivate your relationships, especially harnessing the power of LinkedIn.

For more tips on this subject, read my JD Supra article: “How to Build a Stronger Professional Network Today with These LinkedIn To-Do’s.”