July is here and I bet your dance card’s pretty full. Barbecues, weddings, camping trips–who has time for LinkedIn?
You, my friend.
At least, you do if you don’t want all your brand-building work to fizzle. In the time it takes a pot of water to boil, you can reinforce your reputation and network. You don’t have to sacrifice progress for picnics. Just follow this minute-by-minute guide.
We’ll start with the most time-consuming part first: Engaging with other humans. The good news is that you don’t have to go out of your way to keep your network warm. A little nuanced interaction goes a long way in not only reminding contacts that you exist, but also that you’re interested in them and what they’re doing.
Like their posts. Comment on their stuff. Endorse their skills.
It’s really that easy. Hammer out a list of 20 or so people whose radar you’d like to stay on and start clicking two or three each week. You’ll not only seem like a networking pro, you’ll also find that your contacts respond in kind. When you’re building a brand in the digital realm, social proof in the form of their reactions is pure gold.
There’s no sense starting your maintenance routine cold or with a profile that has dings and dents. Size your profile up from top to bottom, addressing easy-to-fix items like typos, dead links, or that old contact number you no longer use. Jot notes about any time-expensive stuff that can wait for a longer makeover session.
While you’re doing this, think about your current personal branding–is it still sending the right message? If you’re looking for a job, is that clear (yet subtle)? If you’re looking to attract new clients, do you spell that out?
Take a look at your call to action (CTA) (that thing that tells profile visitors how, why, and where they can get in touch with you). Most users include CTAs in their Summary and Advice for Contacting sections. They look something like this:
“I value any opportunity to act as a career mentor or chat with other professionals in the venture capital world. Feel free to connect with me here or on Twitter @[yourhandle].”
They’re drop-dead simple, but when CTAs are outdated, they’re about as useless as the G in lasagna. Does your CTA direct people to a platform where they can actually engage with you? Are you inviting the right kind of people into conversations that you can add value to or about topics that still interest you? Make sure it’s aligned with your current career goals; otherwise, it’s a waste of precious profile space.
Next, scan your feed for the juiciest, most interesting article you can find. You’re looking for something that’s related to your area of expertise and the kind of thing your network will love. If this article were a party snack, it’d be pigs in a blanket.
Share the article with a quick comment on why you think it’s useful and voilà, your profile’s ship-shape and you’ve jump-started your presence with some activity.
Before you go there, no, I’m not telling you to perform the equivalent of a showboat-y Facebook friend purge. You’re just ensuring that your connections are high quality and position you as a trustworthy resource. Your network’s a vital part of your brand, and while quantity helps, it’s ultimately quality connections that get you ahead.
Because, like it or not, you are the company you keep.
Put your timer on for two minutes, then roll through your connections list and see how far you can get. See anybody that you’ve never really chatted with? Prospects who never responded to outreach? Contacts that you know for a fact you wouldn’t be comfortable doing a favor for?
Trim the fat!
Just be sure not to stop by their profiles in the process. Do the work from your Connections tab (here’s how) to keep things under wraps.
There’s no reason to draw attention to your pruning session.
Fifteen minutes once a week can’t get you six-pack abs, but it can fortify the social side of your personal brand. Bridge the gap between your summer schedule and the knockdown, drag-out profile makeover you’ve got on your to-do list with a few quick micro-actions–and pass the corn on the cob!
This article originally appeared on The Daily Muse and is reprinted with permission.