If you want to grow your online influence, you need to build a network of relationships and connections. The more relationships you build, and the more significant those relationships become, the more possibility you will be creating — for yourself and others.

My most basic advice to anyone wanting to grow their online influence is to grow all your online outposts (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc) as big as possible as fast as possible.

It’s similar to the advice my husband is giving me for my marathon training. My mileage must increase every week. Between now and my big day (103 days and counting!), I need to increase my mileage weekly to increase my endurance and fitness. Last week, I ran 23 miles. This week, I plan to increase my mileage to 25 miles. Week by week, as I add distance, I will move closer to my goal of running the marathon.

To train for success on LinkedIn, you need to increase your number of connections every week. Week by week, as you find and cultivate meaningful connections, you will move nearer to your goal of increased influence. In the same way that I block time on my calendar for training (4 runs per week: 3 weekday runs + Saturday long runs), you will be most successful if you block time weekly to focus on your LinkedIn presence. Even a fifteen minute appointment with yourself to work on LinkedIn, scheduled and kept, will help you increase success because even one added LinkedIn connection exponentially increases your network.

Here are some ways to find and increase your connections weekly:

  1. Browse “People You May Know.” The easiest, fastest way to find potential connections is to browse the recommendations LinkedIn curates. I find them to be consistently accurate, returning a few results each time of people I actually know in person. Choose people you know well and take an extra minute to write a personal note when you send the request to connect. Remind the person how you met or share a reason you think connecting to you will be valuable to them.
  2. Look for people you’ve met in person recently. Have you recently met clients or prospects in person? Or have you attended a networking event or conference? Use your stack of collected business cards and search for people you’ve recently met. Again, take the time to write a personal note.
  3. Look for people you interact with daily. In writing this post, I found several clients who I had not previously connected to on LinkedIn. You may not have taken the time to connect to obvious people: coworkers, clients, and vendors. Look to add a few of these obvious people every week.
  4. Find connections from other social channels. If you regularly chat with someone on Twitter, look for them on LinkedIn. Each week, seek to deepen a connection with a Twitter or Facebook friend by finding them and interacting on LinkedIn.
  5. Respond to recent requests. It’s easy to glaze over LinkedIn invitations when they come into your email inbox. During your weekly LinkedIn time, take a moment to thoughtfully consider the requests. While I don’t recommend accepting every request, I do recommend accepting every request that comes from someone you know. When I receive requests from people I don’t know, I carefully consider what value I might be able to bring the person and whether I can see a logical reason it would be helpful to connect. If you have extra time, send a personal note to thank the person who requested the connection.

These five steps, implemented every week, will help you increase every week. Focused, consistent execution over time will help you reach your goals.

Tell me something! What steps do you follow to increase your LinkedIn network every week? What other methods for finding connections would you recommend?