Let’s pull back the curtain on the basics. Social networks basically can be boiled down into three fundamental categories and each is as important as the next. Without a complete strategy to develop each, you are going to tip over as if the 3rd leg of the stool were kicked out.

Not only are the 3 pillars all intertwined, but the order in which you design and execute them is of vital importance. This is what I refer to as social readiness. Follow this order: Design a well thought out great looking profile >>> Connect to the market >>> Learn and engage with consistent thoughtful content.

Pillar #1: Marketability

Market yourself well. Your social profiles are a first impression, a multi-faceted business card that demonstrates your skills and professionalism. It is important to highlight your individual achievements and expertise. It’s equally important to recognize that you and your colleagues are the greatest asset and the collective face of your brand.

Pro Tip:

Think about your professional headline. What does it say about what you do? Does it have a call-to-action? Does it explain to your audience what value you bring to them? Make sure your headline covers these points and your engagement will go up.

DON’T: John Smith, Partner

DO: John Smith, Partner – Experienced Litigator Specialized in Patent Disputes for Small Business Owners

Pillar #2: Connectivity

Be well connected. A lot of people think that a bigger network is a better network. Not always. While it is important to have an audience, the audience must be relevant. Connecting with current customers, clients, and partners is a must, and connecting with prospects opens up new business opportunities.

Pro Tip:

When you reach out to connect to someone on LinkedIn, send a note with your connection invitation. I can’t stress this enough! Make sure your message answers these questions: Why should they connect with you? Who are you? Where did you two meet? If you two haven’t met, what’s in it for them to add you to their network? And whatever you do, do NOT send the canned LinkedIn message.

DON’T: Peter, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.

DO: Peter, Its great to see you on LinkedIn! Amazing profile, by the way! I would love to connect with you to stay in touch and learn more about your role at XYZ corp. If I can ever help you out, please let me know. Go ahead and look through my connections…if there is anyone I can introduce you to, feel free to reach out to me! I also started following you on Twitter…great stuff.

Pillar #3: Engagement

Do something. In order to engage your audience, you must disseminate content that adds value. Arm yourself with an ongoing supply of interesting, compelling and innovative content. Engaging your networks attracts more eyeballs to your profiles, which opens up a new world of business opportunity.

Pro Tip:

Stay engaged with thoughtful content. When sharing content, keep these numbers in mind: 5 – 3 – 2.

  • 5 Pieces of shared content from others…industry specific, thought leadership, etc.
  • 3 Pieces of content from you…your value proposition, your company message, etc.
  • 2 Pieces of personal content…keep it fun, whats going on in your life, etc.

Putting these three pillars together thoughtfully can produce REAL results and will make you shine. Your profile will be more engaged with and your network will view you as an expert.

See how PeopleLinx can help you practice these 3 pillars of social selling like a pro! Contact us to request a live demo.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.