Think of StrategyIn my post last week we examined the concepts of LinkedIn visibility, credibility, and connect-ability. Much of the discussion centered around developing an effective profile that is more searchable (visibility) and that presents you as an authentic professional. Included were a few ideas for improving in these areas.

But, where do you go beyond this? My recommendation would be to develop your unique, personalized strategy for increasing your LinkedIn results. In this post, I want to share five tips for going beyond the ordinary and achieving more of what you want.

Here they are:

1. Decide what you want. This is obvious, but many people join in order to check off the “I have joined LinkedIn” box… and then hope something good will happen. Deciding what you want will provide you guidance in all your activities. As a career professional, one of the most frequent things my clients want are improved odds of getting better jobs and career growth. What about you? What do you want from LinkedIn?

2. Decide to whom you want to be connected. If you create a great profile and stop there, then you will only have the control of accepting or rejecting connection invitations from random people. You stand to get far more if you reach out and take action to build the network of connections you desire. Let’s assume the default I suggested in Tip #1, that you want to improve your career options. Then, your strategy needs to be to grow your contacts in your desired industry, in your desired profession, etc.

3. Decide how you will go about growing your connections. LinkedIn frowns on connecting to people you do not know, so you will need to learn how to “work” the system if you want to aggressively grow contacts by dozens or hundreds in short order. One way to grow your contacts more rapidly, without having to work around the typical system constraints, is to go to networking events and ask people you meet if they are OK with you inviting them to connect. Then, send them an invitation in short order.

4.  Set measurable goals. As an example, I mention an initiative of mine in Chapter 13 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!): I was able to identify and successfully invite enough people with these attributes to grow my network from 300 to 3,000 direct contacts.”-  The measurable goal of 3000 contacts gave me something I could monitor and work toward. If you want more calls from recruiters, perhaps you should set a goal for connecting to them. If you want more contacts in sales management, perhaps you should set a goal for connecting to such people.

5. Evaluate the benefits of upgrading to a paid service. What would it be worth to you to send an email direct to a hiring manager who you want to meet? You can upgrade to a monthly billing, try out the increased features, and see for yourself. Make sure and ask someone who has more experience regarding how you can leverage these features and then make a decision whether to continue or revert back to a free account.

LinkedIn is a fabulous platform for improving your career opportunities. To maximize its benefits, you need to learn your way around and invest some effort on a daily or weekly basis. Spend some time taking action in the five areas outlined and you stand to reap more benefits over time.