In this tough business environment, it’s more important than ever to stay connected. LinkedIn is one of the best networks to make new contacts and stay in touch with clients, affiliates and former coworkers.

Are you taking advantage of the opportunities on LinkedIn to network and build connections?

To start, it’s important to have a complete profile so include a photo of yourself, rather than a company logo. Let people see who you are. Use that summary to show what makes you different and include keywords in your specialties and skills so you’re more searchable on Google.

Successful LinkedIn’ers take the time to build and develop their networks.

If you’re not sure how to build your network, invite current and former colleagues to join your network (include a personal note in the invitation). Do a “search by your email contacts” for an easy and simple way to find people you already know on LinkedIn too. Another option is to import your email contacts from Outlook or other email applications and send them an invitation to join you on LinkedIn. Remember to connect with vendors, customers, and referral partners.

Expand your network outside of your immediate sphere by joining groups. And regularly participate. Make it easy for yourself and start with one group and build from there.

Now that you have connections, avoid the Connect and Forget syndrome

Frequently update and engage your network. It’s worth the time to do this, to stay on top of mind. Decide how often you’ll post and stick to it. Be valuable and share a blog post, newsletter, an article, industry news. Update your status; share new news, projects, and milestones. Comment or like on other people’s status too.

LinkedIn is a simple and effective way to develop your own brand by participating, being social, and staying connected.

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