How to make better use of your LinkedIn account


5 strategies to establish and cultivate LinkedIn relationships

If you’re in a professional career, LinkedIn is a must. It’s the best place to build a strong network and become known as a leader in your industry.

There, you can join groups, find people your contacts already know, discover connections between people and interests, read informative articles, and stay up-to-date on changes in your industry and more.

As a top 1% LinkedIn member with over 6,000 connections, I’ve found that utilizing the application has led to an expanded network, more exposure, and new business.

In fact, I’ve had several clients tell me they found me on LinkedIn.

Like everything, you have to put in work to get good results. I try to devote an hour every day to LinkedIn. That may sound like a lot of time to block off for social media, but you’ll be surprised at what you’ll get in return — added revenue and exposure for the company, at no cost.

In case you’re thinking, “What? Does she own stock in LinkedIn?” The answer is no.

I’m telling you this because LinkedIn has helped me, and using it can help you, too.

Here are some of my favorite strategies for getting greater exposure on the application:

1. Build your network by adding to it frequently.

A good place to start is by joining groups that relate to your field. Note the folks who are sharing content and using LinkedIn consistently and connect with those people first.

Out in the “real world,” if you meet someone who might be a good professional connection, search for her on LinkedIn and engage. Start by sending an introductory email — NOT a sales pitch.

If you’re in sales, resist the urge to tout your service or product; it will only result in a quick delete.

My first note goes something like this: “Hi Amy! Nice to be connected with you here on LinkedIn. If there’s anything I can do to assist you, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m also on Twitter @StaffingQueenN. Reach out there and I’ll follow back. All the best.”

Direct, simple and with no sales pitch. It works. Try it for a month and see where it gets you.

2. Start blogging.

With Pulse, you can post as many articles as you want. Writing expert content related to your business or role will increase your exposure, build followers, and help you be viewed as an expert.

If you don’t consider yourself an expert on anything, teach yourself. Research your topic fully, add your own spin, and share! If you’re searching for work, an article about what you look for in a company and why could be fascinating. It could also open up more opportunities for you than just a sale or a job.

Cover of "From Receptionist to Boss" by Nicole Smartt.

Cover of “From Receptionist to Boss” by Nicole Smartt. (HANDOUT)

3. Share content and link to it in your email signature.

If you write an article, share the URL in your email signature. Here’s one of mine: How to Commemorate International Women’s Day: (By creating an account and using or another URL shortener, you can see how many people click through to read your article.)

If you have read an article you know will be of interest to one of your connections, share it and let her know that you’re thinking of her. The key is to know when to check in with a genuine hello.

I share one post a day on my status update and a few articles in different groups to attract a larger audience. Remember to be selective. It’s a busy world and no one wants to be bombarded by content. Make it worthwhile.

4. If you’re job hunting, spend time on LinkedIn once a day.

This will keep you in the minds of your connections. And the fact that you’re posting relevant information will show you’re a reputable person with a solid work ethic.

You may not think of yourself as a writer, but take a stab at it (and have someone else edit before posting).

If, for example, you’re looking for a position in the wine industry, you could write an article about the ways in which a hospitality background helps. Strong knowledge of local hotels and sights and the best places to eat is a boon for visiting winery guests.

This is just one example, of course. You’ll construct your piece based on your own knowledge and skillset.

5. Use the LinkedIn Connect App.

This will help you stay in the know for anniversaries, birthdays, job opportunities, events and more. The Connect application sends you updates and offers everything you need to stay connected. It’s my go-to app. Use it daily.

There’s no doubt that using social media takes time, but it can offer a great return on investment. One of my biggest clients came from LinkedIn. I never pitched them and I didn’t spend money on advertising. I simply used my time wisely on LinkedIn and was thrilled to find they had paid attention.

Take the time to invest in yourself and your connections and you’ll find, as I continue to do, that it pays off in a multitude of ways.

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About Author

Nicole Smartt

Nicole Smartt (, author of "From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead At Work," is co-owner and vice president of Star Staffing in Petaluma, Calif. She also is co-founder of the Petaluma Young Professionals Network and was the youngest recipient of the "Forty Under 40" award given by the North Bay Business Journal.

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