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Linkedin NetworkA report on the State of Inbound Marketing found referrals account for 33% of top source of total sales. If you think about building your digital network with LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups as a personal project (versus purchased marketing lists) you will quickly extend your reach for getting more referral business. A website isn’t enough to stay ahead in today’s competitive markets. Having a solid digital network to extend your reach helps you stay top of mind with your customers, prospects and referral partners. So how can you leverage LinkedIn to Build your Digital Network?

Begin with Adding Personal Contacts to Your Digital Network

Start by researching and finding your personal contacts in LinkedIn. It is a best practice to ask these personal contacts to be part of your LinkedIn network. You can find people you worked with in the past, industry contacts, vendor contacts, clients, and other people you have done business with. Other good candidates for your LinkedIn network are college alumni, people from nonprofit organizations, and other business associates you would typically meet at a mixer or trade event.  

Joining LinkedIn Groups

There is a LinkedIn Group for almost anything. Groups are like- minded networks of professionals that share contacts and information. Take a look at the profiles of your contacts in LinkedIn to see what LinkedIn groups they belong to. Also search for LinkedIn Groups in a specific vertical market or industry, profession, or region–for example, IT professionals in the construction industry in New England. There is a group for everyone!

How to Leverage Your LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn Groups distribute an email notification of group activities, such as blog posts and information sharing from the LinkedIn Group Members. These LinkedIn Group digests are distributed either daily or weekly to members via email. Consider posting links to your blog articles and adding comments to other LinkedIn Group members’ posts.  Share other interesting and newsworthy articles, information and experience in the LinkedIn groups. If you blog regularly or subscribe to a syndicated blogging service like ClikCloud, you can post these articles to your LinkedIn network and LinkedIn Groups to extend your marketing reach and stay top of mind. These are easy routines to adopt and will take a few minutes or less for each share. There are free and low-cost tools like Buffer and Hootsuite that will help streamline this process if you belong to a large number of groups. LinkedIn also has a feature to download your connections as a contact list. Consider inviting your LinkedIn Network to join your permission based monthly newsletter or other information offers.

There are many ways to use your digital network to grow your business. Facebook is a whole other topic to cover in a future article. But for now, start with building your digital network with LinkedIn.