This is our fifth and final article in our miniseries on using LinkedIn to build your brand, grow your network and find your dream job.

In the past few weeks, we shared:

Now that you have a complete, shiny and highly visible profile, it is time to reap the benefits from your hard work. It is time to start using LinkedIn to its fullest potential. It’s time for action!

Time to dive in!

If you have a complete and polished LinkedIn profile, and if you have optimized your privacy settings to support your goals, you have all the fundamentals in place for getting the most from LinkedIn.

However, if LinkedIn would be a club, your LinkedIn profile would just be your entrance ticket. You can make a great first impression with your LinkedIn profile, but it’s what you do with it that makes all the difference.

1. Share noteworthy news, tips and advice

As we mentioned before, LinkedIn wants you to regularly share LinkedIn status updates. The more you share, the higher the visibility of your profile on LinkedIn.

And if you share useful information and tips, or if you act as a liasion between people and/or companies on LinkedIn, you will gradually build your brand and earn the respect from your network.

Do you like a colleague’s status update? Like it. Do you like a particular article? Share it. But please don’t spam your network by sharing for the sake of sharing. That’s even worse than not sharing any information at all.

2. Share your opinions and start discussions

If you are comfortable with sharing news, information, tips and tricks, it may be time to take it up a notch. It may be time to start sharing your take on things.

Sharing information will get you “likes” and “shares” at most, but it’s “comments” that you should really be after if you want to grow your brand and visibility on LinkedIn.

Do you want to be seen as an expert or thought leader in your field? Then start sharing your opinions and questions through your LinkedIn status updates.

People may not always agree with you, but that’s OK. As long as you don’t provoke people for the sake of provoking. Make your point in a decent way and solicit feedback through clear calls to action and engaging questions that beg for an anwser from your audience.

3. Follow and respond to companies and thought leaders

Another way to grow your visibility is by following and (in particular) responding to the articles and status updates of companies (perhaps the one you want to work with) and thought leaders.

Every single comment will show up on your profile and in the status updates on your connections’ LinkedIn home pages. Try to share noteworthy comments that spark a discussion. This will grow your visibility, your personal brand and your network.

4. Recommend other members’ skills and expertise

Give and you shall receive! But please don’t give to receive. Either way, it is a good idea to recommend the skills and expertise of the people in your network. If they deserve it!

Giving recommendations will not only increase your popularity in your network, it will also increase the number of places where your LinkedIn profile shows up. And the more often people will see your profile, the more likely you are to grow your network and hear about interesting opportunities.

5. Start and participate in LinkedIn groups

Most of the actions mentioned so far will mainly help you increase the visibility of your profile within your current network. However, in order to grow your network beyond the people you already know, you have to take the stage so that other people want to and can get in touch with you.

On LinkedIn this proverbial stage is called… LinkedIn Groups!

In order to get the fullest from LinkedIn groups, there is 1 golden rule: add value. Don’t use LinkedIn groups to spam others with commercial messages. And don’t use LinkedIn groups to drop links to your own blog posts all over the place.

Instead, use LinkedIn groups to help others and to start interesting discussions that add value to the groups you participate in. And if you share links to useful information, adding an occasional link to your own website and/or blog posts (provided that this supports your points) will be gladly appreciated by others.

Now, LinkedIn groups often behave as ecosystems within the larger ecosystem of LinkedIn. Some groups have their own particular audience and rules of conduct. In general, it is best to follow the following 5 step procedure to join LinkedIn groups:

    1. Seek and apply for membership with interesting groups

You can identify interesting groups by entering keywords in the big search box on top of your LinkedIn home page, or by scanning the groups that are listed on LinkedIn profiles that resemble your interests.

    1. Listen to the group

If you have been accepted as a group member (group administrators can allow or refuse access), take a week or so to learn the dynamics of the group. What kind of information is shared? What’s the tone of voice? Who are the top influencers of the group? Try to get the big picture and to learn the rules of conduct.

    1. Respond to other members

If you have learned the dynamics of a LinkedIn gruop, you can start helping others by participating in discussions. Be patient though. You may still have to earn your way in. Add value to the discussion and try not to overly provoke others.

    1. Share information and start discussions

After a while (the exact time frame may depend on your own commitment and/or the groups’ dynamics), you can start sharing your information, tips, tricks, questions and opinions. In other words: you can start discussions of your own. If you do so, keep it very short and add a clear question or call to action to sollicit feedback from the group.

    1. Stay focused and committed

Now it is time to consolidate your position in the group, to reap the benefits from your efforts and to help others anywhere you can. Stay committed and focused on your topic. The more you share and contribute, the bigger your brand will become and the more people will want to connect, meet, talk and work with you. This is where opportunities may find you instead of the other way around.

Wrapping things up

In the past few weeks we have devoted 5 articles to the use of LinkedIn to build your brand, grow your network and find your dream job.

We have discussed:

We can’t guarantee that our tips will get you anywhere near your dream job, but we are pretty sure that they will definitely help you achieving this goal.

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