Be proactive
As Kevin Costner said in Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.” When your profile is complete, connect your emails and other social accounts and grow your existing network. Adding content increases your ability to reach out to former colleagues, college connections, professors, and individuals you’ve met at conferences.

LinkedIn provides a “group” feature to interact with people with a common focus or passion. In groups, you can comment on discussions, share topics on your own feed, mention other individuals you have found as a valuable source of knowledge—just be mindful to not overwhelm the conversations and make it your personal soapbox. Try to bring value with every post. I discovered that if a group includes LION in its title, it is trying to maximize its connections. LION stands for LinkedIn Open Networkers.

Check out the connection recommendations
LinkedIn uses high-level meta tagging that enhances recommendations for people to connect with. In growing your network, you want it to be both diverse and concentrated. However, if you accept a request and find out later it is someone you don’t want to be connected with, you have the ability to disconnect.

6 steps to be a smarter networker on LinkedIn #socialmedia #networking

Dive in
In my brief time on LinkedIn I can already see the power of this free networking tool. My goal in the first month is to dedicate time and effort to make the most of my connections and create an online presence. Another goal is to send a personal note to connections I accept as well as when I send a request. My final goal is to not be discouraged by my small number of connections in the first month. The more I post and connect with others, the more the number will grow.
Setting realistic goals will help keep the focus on the steps to grow my PLN with real connections and not just numbers. My network is still growing and I’d love your feedback on this piece, so feel free to connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/Drmxj.

About the Author:

Matthew Joseph, Ed.D., is the director of digital learning, informational technology, and innovation for Milford Public Schools in Milford, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewXJoseph.