LinkedIn is like marmite. You either love it, or you hate it. You know you should use it, but aren’t sure how to use it.

So, how do you expand your network on LinkedIn?

The LinkedIn fear.

LinkedIn use has grown rapidly. In March 2021, Statista reported that LinkedIn had over 31 million users in the UK compared to 29 million in 2020. (Facebook has over 56 million users in the UK).

Mainly for business to business users, it’s gone from being seen as solely a professional networking site. To now being seen as a site where everyone can share, chat and meet likeminded professionals. It’s not just for those in suits. It’s for everyone.

Many people still find LinkedIn ‘scary’.

They don’t know what to post.

They don’t want to look silly in front of their ‘work’ contacts or work networks.

I think that’s why LinkedIn is a bit marmite. You either find flow or the tidal wave of fear washes over you and you never end up posting what you’ve written.

When thinking about expanding your network on LinkedIn, the thing to remember is that LinkedIn is still a social networking site. Just the same way that Instagram or Facebook is.

Granted, your daily pictures of your morning coffee that you post on Instagram aren’t perhaps what your working network wants to see. But, the social element of LinkedIn is definitely there.

How can you learn to love LinkedIn?

Unlike marmite, you can learn to love LinkedIn.

Once you are clear on why you are on LinkedIn i.e to expand your network, using LinkedIn becomes a lot easier.

Here are some ways that you can expand your network on LinkedIn.

  • Research. Follow people in your niche, See who they are working with. Build up a list of organisations that you want to follow and eventually work with. Keep an eye on any job opportunities they share.
  • Look. Look at people’s profiles. See what they do and who they are connected with. Take a look at whose posts they are commenting on. Follow or connect with people with who you would like to network with.
  • Be social. Reminder. LinkedIn is a social platform. So, be social. Comment on other’s posts, bring your viewpoint when commenting. Do you agree with the post? Do you have anything to add?
  • Build knowledge. This is where I feel LinkedIn comes into its own. There is so much knowledge and experience shared on LinkedIn by fellow users. Read, enjoy and comment on what is being shared. I’ve found some brilliant informative free weekly webinars to attend. I’ve seen books recommended that I have never heard of.

What to post on LinkedIn.

The question of what to post on LinkedIn is always one that comes up.

  • Ask questions. If no one answers then it doesn’t matter. You are still showing up and starting a conversation.
  • Share your expertise. Share a top tip. Share a resource that you’ve used that you have found useful.  Being seen as a person who wants to share knowledge, expertise, and information is key to expanding your network on LinkedIn.
  • Pay it forward. If you’ve seen an article that you have found interesting, share it. Share with a comment though. Give your views on the article.
  • Take inspiration from what others post. You aren’t looking to copy their posts. You can create your own posts in your own words and give your own viewpoint. Credit the original person. Let them know that their post triggered you to think about this topic and write a post on it. This is a great way to start conversations and network on LinkedIn.

Using LinkedIn to find a job.

By expanding your network on LinkedIn, you will find that by default, you will find new job opportunities.

  • That could be through the people that you follow, sharing opportunities.
  • It could be through you looking at where people work and doing your own research into organisations you may want to work with. Then checking these organisations websites.
  • It could be that people you have connected with recommending a role they have seen to you.
  • It could be by you proactively contacting organisations that you follow on LinkedIn that you would like to work with.

I have found at least three of my freelance roles through building my network on LinkedIn.

Some opportunities have come from research I’ve done on LinkedIn. Some have come from connections that I’ve made on LinkedIn. Because of these connections I’ve been tagged in posts and been made aware of a job opportunity. Some people have approached me directly. I’ve also shared job opportunities I have seen with others in my network.

There are many opportunities out there with many different organisations. Your network on LinkedIn is a wonderful way to find out about what is out there.

Your LinkedIn Network.

Treat your network on LinkedIn as any virtual work community.

Reconnect with former colleagues. Arrange virtual coffee chats with those you know well. Comment and start conversations with those that you would like to network.

Be willing to share. Be willing to give back. Be willing to take part in conversations. Because that’s how networks are formed and how they grow. Expanding your network on LinkedIn is no different.

If you want to take your LinkedIn learning further I would highly recommend following John Espirian on LinkedIn. He shares lots of advice on LinkedIn as a social platform and how you can get the most of it.

I’ve found LinkedIn a welcoming platform to be on. My LinkedIn network has expanded through being social. It’s a place where I’ve found job opportunities. It’s a platform where I have connected with work colleagues I’d lost contact with.

As with most things in life, you get out what you put in. LinkedIn is no different.