Building a useful network by design

In my October 2020 article, I focused on the first step to creating results on LinkedIn – optimising your personal LinkedIn profile*. The next step is to build a useful network to assist you in achieving your professional or business goals. Growing a targeted network is critical to creating results on LinkedIn which makes it different from other platforms. How quickly this happens is down to how much work you are willing to put in.


The key steps to building a useful network include reviewing who’s already in your network; assessing who you want and need to help you achieve your professional goals; and then searching for your ideal audience, clients, colleagues and business groups. When you find them, research their profiles and the content they’re posting so that you can send them a customised invitation. Then, when they link in with you, thank them and welcome them to your network.


Who’s in your network?


When I begin working with a new client, I ask them what percentage of their LinkedIn network is made up of their ideal clients or audience? Very often the response is that if they had to guess, only 10-20% of their network is made up of ideal people for their businesses. Usually, their LinkedIn network has grown organically over time and without a deliberate strategy and so it’s comprised of people they have worked with, gone to university with, friends and gym- or golf buddies. I want to put you in the driver’s seat by changing that.


Who do you need to achieve your goals?


It’s important to understand degrees of connectedness. First-degree connections are people you're directly connected with because you've either accepted their invitation to connect or they've accepted your invitation. This is the number of connections that appears on your profile. Second-degree connections are linked to your first-degree connections, and third-degrees are connected to your second-degrees.


Just as we optimise our LinkedIn profiles with our ideal clients in mind when we share content on LinkedIn, the people who get to see our content are those that are in our first-degree network. If you have 150 people in your network but only 10% of them represent your ideal audience, then potentially you are creating amazing content that only up to 15 people are going to find of value. So you need far more of the right people in your network to achieve your professional goals. But when your content is high quality and your network engages with it (with a like, comment or share), the people in their networks also get to see your content. That’s the multiplier effect of great content.


Provided you can use a position title to identify your ideal clients, sources of referrals or introductions, suppliers and other professionals you want to connect with, you can search for them on LinkedIn and invite them to connect. LinkedIn’s main search bar allows searching for people, for example, ‘“Practice Manager” in New Zealand’ (note the speech marks around the position title).


Research their profiles


Before you send that all-important invitation, however, research their profile and the content they have posted and liked via their ‘activity’ section. This research provides insight as to what interests them and what could be useful to connect with them.


The days of the generic invitation are over. If you are serious about winning more people over, ensure you customise every invitation you send on LinkedIn – even to the people you know well. In fact, especially to them! If you tell them why you are interested in connecting, you’re much more likely to get a ‘yes’. Then thank every person who accepts your invitation and welcome them to your network by sending them a message via LinkedIn messaging.



Customise every invitation you send on LinkedIn



Set yourself a goal and take regular action


Remember, you are in the driver’s seat on LinkedIn. I recommend setting yourself a daily or weekly goal to invite a set number of your ideal audience to connect with you using the approach described. I wish you well with your network growth and if you would like to know more then please get in touch via email or LinkedIn.





Kate Nankivell is a LinkedIn and social-selling expert in Auckland who loves working with sales teams and business owners on their social-selling strategies. Please connect or start a conversation if you would like to know more about how she can help: or


Attract your ideal clients with LinkedIn

This LinkedIn online course is designed for business owners who want to learn all the steps to optimising their LinkedIn profiles.


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