Of course, you’re on LinkedIn, it’s a no brainer, right? LinkedIn is the top professional social media platform, and the first place recruiters look. So, you keep your profile up to date and maintain an active presence, building up connections and being seen.

But did you know that LinkedIn can be a great networking tool? The key is in how you use it.

Focus on building meaningful relationships

A LinkedIn connection shouldn’t just be a collection of people who you’ve ever met or worked with. When you connect, you should focus on developing a meaningful relationship that will benefit both of you. This means making quality connections. Better to have a smaller list of people you know and who know you than thousands of strangers.

Importing your email contacts is a good start. Then search for people you know who are already on LinkedIn or check out the recommended ‘people you may know’ section.

Don’t send random invitations

Be selective in who you invite to connect. Make sure there is already some relationship no matter how slight. It could be someone you met at a conference or a trade show or someone you went to college with.

Don’t forget to mention the connection in your invitation. Remind them of who you are and how they know you – give them a few clues to jog their memory.

Occasionally go through your list of invitations sent and remove those that have not responded. Either they don’t want to connect or don’t spend a lot of time on the platform.

Build your relationships

Give your LinkedIn relationships time to grow before you ask for favors or referrals. If you know a connections’ work, you can endorse them for particular skills. Like and share their posts. If they are visiting your town, and it feels appropriate, ask them out for a coffee. If you are at the same conference or meeting, arrange to meet up for a chat.

Make sure you contribute to the larger LinkedIn community by writing posts and articles. Join in conversations and participate in groups. Demonstrate your value to your network.

For LinkedIn aficionados, the first thing that will get them all riled up is a message trying to sell something or get you to commit to something. 

Curate your network

Be strategic about whether you decide to accept invitations to connect. You don’t have to say yes to everyone. Make sure you check them out first. Take a look at their LinkedIn profile and see if they could be a meaningful connection.

If you accept an invitation from someone in a company or industry you’re interested in, send a message as well telling them how pleased you are to connect. Maybe ask them more about their job and start a conversation.

A healthy, active LinkedIn network can be a tremendous asset in your business. Take the time to build relationships and watch that effort pay off.