Brian Wallace

Founder @ NowSourcing. Contributor @ Hackernoon, Advisor @GoogleSmallBiz, Podcaster, infographics

Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn: How to Harness the Professional Network

LinkedIn is more than just a place to dump your resume and log out, and if you’re still using it that way you’re missing out on a lot of value. There are features rolling out all the time that few know even exist, let alone how to use to their advantage, and it’s time to take another look at this platform that is bringing business people together from all around the world in real, meaningful ways. If you’ve never used live and native video, document sharing, or attended a LinkedInLocal or Global Meetup for LinkedIn event, it’s time to take another look at just what LinkedIn can do for you.

LinkedInLocal Goes Global

About two years ago there was a movement in the LinkedIn community to bring people together from their online networks offline. It was called #LinkedInLocal, and it spawned a global movement to get working professionals out of their digital comfort zones and into the real world. Since then there have been events across the globe, from Australia to New York and everywhere in between. Then recently the second Global Meetup for LinkedIn event happened, hosted by Joel Wolh, Moshe Gross, and Brian Wallace, which brought people together in an effort to promote global networking.
“This event wasn’t necessarily about LinkedIn,” says Christine Gritmon of Christine Gritmon, Inc., “it’s just what gets people in the door, and lets them know that this isn’t just networking, and it isn’t just social, it’s BOTH, and is specifically for those who come at networking from a spirit of generosity, and want to help the people in their circle. It’s about those who don’t see meeting people in a business context as being transactional.”
Relationships build better networks than transactions do, and LinkedIn is the best network to build those crucial relationships.
“Networking is not fishing for clients,” says Shmuel Septimus of SNF Marketing. “It's about creating and furthering real human relationships with a genuine interest in helping the other person out. Clients will follow naturally.”
L-R Christine Gritmon, Kat Skavish, Cami Baker, Photo Courtesy of Philip Shaw
Being authentic is the key to any attempt at building meaningful connections with anyone, especially when it comes to professional connections.
“LinkedIn is a community and you must engage it with authenticity and consistency,” says Philip Shaw of Kettering Health Network. “Building relationships with contacts on and offline are essential, just be sure you maintain it with communication or events like LinkedInLocal or Global.”
These LinkedInLocal and Global Meetup for LinkedIn events bring people together in a way that other networking events just can’t seem to do.
“My biggest takeaway was really the fact that these are real people you are connecting with,” says Pessy Brecher of Voyage Concierge Services. “When it is just a name on LinkedIn with a comment or a like shared I find you don’t relate to the person behind the profile. By actually meeting everyone in person it gives a whole new view.”
Getting to know the people behind the profile is important, but is often overlooked. Taking the time to meet with people face-to-face shows that you are genuinely interested in who they are as people while also showing that you are a genuine person behind that profile.
L-R Shaneé Moret, Judi Fox, Brian Schulman, Michaela Alexis, Brian Wallace, Photo Courtesy of Philip Shaw
“I got to meet so many amazing and like minded people in person that I already engaged with and 'knew' a little,” says Adam Kramer of Slingshot Health. “I got to take those connections and start to  build real relationships and friendships. It was an event that pulled people from all over the world that really care about one another. We shared our stories, highs and lows. Sharing our experiences with others to help them grow and achieve their goals. But ultimately we all got to realize we are all human and make mistakes. We all got to know each other and build our network of real like minded growth mindset individuals!”
Inspiration often comes from where you least expect it, and it’s truly amazing to watch everyone be inspired at an event like this.
“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious,” says Brian Schulman of Voice Your Vibe. “Incredible things happen when we come together, and the LinkedInGlobal experience was nothing short of incredible. New relationships were built and existing relationships were strengthened through connections made within this vibrant community we call our LinkedInFam.”
Schulman continues, “I love LinkedInLIVE because it allows me to take everyone on a journey with me that isn’t able to attend in person. For example, last week at the Global Meetup for LinkedIn (the largest LinkedIn event in history) I took our LinkedInFam from around the world with us behind the scenes LIVE from the stage of our panel - to feel like they were sitting right there with us. It’s all about the experience together!”
If you are ready to start participating in LinkedInLocal meetups:
  • Do a search for LinkedInLocal on Eventbrite. The closest event may be somewhat far away, but it might be worth a trip.
  • Do a content search on LinkedIn for #linkedinlocal (and follow the hashtag to improve your feed) along with the city you're searching for.
  • Once you get the hang of LinkedInLive events, why not host your own? You’d be surprised how many people in your local business area are tired of the same old networking events.
L-R Brian Wallace, Cami Baker, Mark Metry, Quentin Allums, Photo Courtesy of Omama Marzuq

So How Do You Grow Your Network On LinkedIn Anyway?

As they said in Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come. Using all the features of LinkedIn, such as articles, posts, document sharing, native video, and more can help you to position yourself as a subject matter expert in your field as well as to find other subject matter experts in your own field as well as in other fields. Hashtags are a great way to cast a wider net when you make a post, and when you go to a conference you can turn on the Find Nearby function to find people who may already be in your network so you can introduce yourself. It’s like having a magic wand to find the people who already want to connect with you.
“I really like the “Find Nearby” feature on LinkedIn,” says Judd Laurie. “It can be a great tool for connecting the individuals with whom you are speaking to for the first time, or when you just don’t have time to meet everyone in the room.”
Growing your network on LinkedIn is pretty simple:
  • It’s OK to add people you don’t know in real life - just work to find that common ground to enhance both of your lives
  • Using the ‘Find Nearby’ function when you’re at a LinkedInLocal or other networking event can help you form deeper connections with people who are already in your network but who you may not know well
  • Add all the people you meet in the course of your normal working life, even if you don’t think you will cross paths again. You probably will!

Using Live And Native Video On LinkedIn

LinkedIn Live is one of the latest developments in the platform, and the LinkedIn community is finding all sorts of amazing uses for this capability. There are daily web shows being developed and hosted, valuable interview content being created, and even many of the LinkedInLocal events are being streamed with this platform so more people can feel involved in the process even when they can’t be there in person.
“Live video is especially impactful because it lets you personalize the experience and connects audiences to your content in ways that aren’t possible with traditional video formats,” says Nick Mattingly, Founder of Switcher Studio. Switcher Studio is one of the few select programs by which those with early access to LinkedIn Live can stream their live video, and the best part is it doesn’t require any special equipment — you can live stream using Switcher Studio right from your iPhone or iPad.
Photo Courtesy of Philip Shaw
“As a live streamer, my favorite Linkedin feature is live streaming,” says Ai Addyson-Zhang of Classroom Without Walls. “Live video gives the live audience a greater level of agency to influence and co-create content with the host. It is a faster way to build trust, authority, and community locally and globally.”
Currently LinkedIn Live is in beta. In the meantime, there is still the option to do native video that you shoot and then post, though there is a ten minute limit on that type of content. Sadly, this is an extremely underutilized feature, and as a result any video content that is remotely interesting to people is likely to garner thousands of views, drawing even more people to your network.
“Compared to other social channels LinkedIn was one of the last to introduce video,” says Kristin Gallucci, a LinkedIn Top Voice of 2018. “However, with it’s business-focused content, video has been welcomed. And now with Linkedin Live in beta, it gives content creators a new way to reach audiences in real time. There have been some really interesting Lives and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future will bring. The format is great and it has been one of the better functioning features at launch.”
Some great ways to include video content in your LinkedIn strategy include:
  • Behind the scenes content - show people what it’s like doing the nitty-gritty, day-to-day tasks of your business, or show them behind the scenes at an event your company is doing
  • Product showcases - unboxing videos are a great way to introduce new products to your customers, but you can also use these videos to showcase your suppliers so customers can get a better understanding of the people behind the brands they are buying
  • Q&A sessions - if you have the ability to go live, you can do an ‘ask me anything’ or a Q&A session about an upcoming event, a new product, or even just general information about your company

You need a few pieces of equipment to really elevate your video quality once you get the hang of it. Your cell phone is still perfectly fine, but you might want to consider a gimbal for stabilization, of which there are hundreds of options, and something for diffused lighting. I recently tried out the Profoto C1 at the Global Meetup for LinkedIn and the results were amazing. Best of all, it fits right in your pocket. 


Using Content And Document Sharing

The content you post on LinkedIn gives people the opportunity to get to know you better, but it also gives you the opportunity to guide their impressions. Articles, photos, videos, and document sharing all give you the opportunity to position yourself as a subject matter expert in your field, and the more high-quality content you post, the more people will find you.
“I love the new feature of attaching documents to your posts,” says Carla Taylor of Bring Your Brilliance. “It’s such a great way to put out bite-size content and grow your content library while helping people. I’ve started posting daily #Power3Tips to help people grow their personal brand both on and off LinkedIn.”
To use content and document sharing effectively:
  1. Blog about topics relevant and interesting to our area of expertise - this shows you are dialed in to the latest trends in your industry
  2. Infographics and other visuals are great to share on document sharing because they are so attention-grabbing
  3. Document sharing is often underutilized and can get a lot of traction

Other Ways To Use LinkedIn To Its Fullest

There are more features to LinkedIn than you can even imagine, so it’s best to just start clicking on things and see what’s there. Try everything and see what works best for you, what gives you the most value for your time. But what do the experts recommend you check out?
“Video messages!” says Michaela Alexis, LinkedIn Influencer and speaker. “It's such an easy yet impactful way to stand out in inboxes and give your message a much more personal touch. Every person I've sent one to has been blown away.”
You can send videos instead of typing out a long response, and it is so often underutilized that it comes across as something that was painstakingly handmade, thus further deepening those professional relationships. And other professionals agree.
“The LinkedIn feature that I enjoy and see REAL business results with is the LinkedIn Inbox Voice Messaging feature,” says Judi Fox of Judi Fox Consulting and LinkedIn Business Accelerator. “You can leave a quick 1 minute connection message that is really personalized and gives you an incredible start towards building a solid relationship with people on LinkedIn.”

It’s Time To Learn LinkedIn

If you aren’t using these features on LinkedIn, it’s time to learn how, and the best way to learn is to start by doing. Start posting regularly everything from photos to articles to videos. Start reaching out to people in your network to try to get to know them better. Send people video messages to connect on a deeper level. Find LinkedInLocal events in your area and get to really know the people in your network. Most people are asleep on LinkedIn, but this professional level social network can work for you if you take the time to leverage its power


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Comments

September 26th, 2019

Thank you for publishing this long article.
I don’t know about most new features that you mentioned there.

I have a big network at LI but never use it. Most time I have few open chats there only. I follow a few cool influencers and like to explore LI feed. But when I post something - I have small number of views so I’m not posting there frequently now.

I created a group page for my company, trying to publish all of my articles, related to food market.

Sometimes when one of my interns looking for a full-time job I convert their resume to jpg and post or reshare their “looking for job” post. It usually gives aroung >= 300 views but from network ~4500 people i think number is pretty low.

This is how I’m using LinkedIn

September 27th, 2019

Thanks Arthur! I talk a lot about strategy on LinkedIn - please follow me there!

September 27th, 2019

Great article, Brian! I think people need to realize that Linkedin is not just another social media platform. This is real life. It’s real people with real businesses accomplishing real business results and let’s be honest, we all want to achieve financial success and online and offline.

September 27th, 2019

Thanks @shmuel-septimus and well said!

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