I always say that LinkedIn is like a plant that keeps growing and you have to water it in order for it to flourish.

That means not just buying a plant and putting it on your windowsill like I do with orchids that never live long – or creating a LinkedIn profile – and hoping for the best.

Here’s how to build a strategic plan for finding contacts, building your network and increasing your connections on LinkedIn.

Using this framework, commit to growing your network by at least five to 10 connections per week.

Of course, quality always matters more than quantity when it comes to your connections but the number of connections you have on LinkedIn matters. Remember, the more first-degree connections you have, the more second- and third-degree connections you have, making you literally one connection away from millions of people.

Your LinkedIn Connections Plan

  1. Add your LinkedIn friendly URL to your email signature – this will drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Follow up on in-person networking opportunities via connecting on LinkedIn.
  3. Follow your former firms/companies, alumni groups and trade associations and search for contacts through their company pages
  4. Review your connections’ connections – who do they know who you know?
  5. Utilize the ”People You May Know” feature.
  6. Go through your Outlook address book and make sure you are connected to important contacts on LinkedIn and vice versa.
  7. Connect with individuals who have viewed your profile (only if you know them).
  8. Regularly write content and personally share it with VIP connections to stay top of mind.
  9. Be generous – like and share others’ posts.
  10. Images increase engagement on posts – people connect with people so don’t be afraid to use your likeness in your social posts.
  11. Congratulate the successes of your connections through the notifications section. Monitor job moves, promotions, job anniversaries, birthdays and other professional milestones and use them to reignite relationships. You’d be surprised how often these conversations can lead to new opportunities.
  12. Posting more often creates additional opportunities for engagement, thus syndicating your content across home page feeds. Don’t be concerned about annoying people by posting regularly. LinkedIn’s algorithms are tricky, and your network isn’t likely to see every post.
  13. Join the alumni groups of former firms and schools, which can help you reestablish and grow relationships.
  14. Join and then post content of value in LinkedIn groups. When used strategically, LinkedIn groups can help amplify your content and connect you to the right people. If you’re not sure which groups to join, do a search on LinkedIn and look at the groups in which your colleagues and peers are members.
  15. Comment on others’ posts. This helps boost engagement on their posts while building a stronger relationship with you and the author as well as helps you increase your own subject-matter authority and the visibility of your personal brand.

Online networking – particularly on LinkedIn – has never been more important to stay top-of-mind and build connections and your brand and it isn’t going anywhere, so its in your best interest to embrace it and actively use it to your advantage.

Which of these tips have worked for you?

PS – if you have any tips on how to keep an orchid alive, please include them in the comments (and yes, I’ve tried the ice cube).