How to Network on LinkedIn
We all know that LinkedIn rules the planet. Business professionals who avoid this social networking platform render themselves conspicuous by their absence.
But just like any other product, LinkedIn is only beneficial if you know how to use it. Virtuous as it may be, just how much can it improve your personal development opportunities and how do you use it to network?
First, let’s look at what you could do:
Courses of action
Suppose you are a jobseeker looking for marketing jobs. What would be your usual course of action?
1. Register your resume with a couple of selected executive search firms.
3. From this you’ll get a selection of advertised openings from most of the free job boards. You can also invest in monthly memberships to www.ExecuNet.com and www.RiteSite.com for invaluable extra benefits for job seekers at $150K salary levels.
4. Depending on your professional level you should subscribe the local business journal periodicals and a trade journal or two.
These proactive job hunting methods are essential. All your smart competitors are doing this and you need to be on top of current industry trends and business sectors.
So here’s what you can do with LinkedIn:
Before you start, make sure your public profile is complete and up-to-date. And this includes your photo. There is little point engaging in the social media like Facebook and Myspace, recruiters will not be looking for you there! Show them who you actually are, not what you want them to believe.
Next there are your recommendations.
Who can endorse you? Of course, these need to be business references, not something your ‘professional friend’ cobbled together. Ideally you’ll have a collection of suppliers, clients, peers and managers.
Are you a blogger?
Do you have your own blog page? If so, set it to RSS into your LinkedIn profile – provided, of course, it complements (rather than contradicts) the image you’re trying to portray. Your profile is your sales platform. You have no idea who views your page each day and if you get it wrong you could be missing out on some great opportunities. Because unlike the four channels mentioned above networking is a two-way process. You need to visible to people looking to find you as much as you need to be proactively punting yourself. By getting it right, you really can maximize your exposure on LinkedIn.
Join a LinkedIn Group
One of the most constructive ways to network via LinkedIn (and any other digital space for that matter) is to join relevant groups. This is where your peers, recruiters and potential employers hang out. There are 1000’s of groups on LinkedIn so choosing the right ones can be a bit trial and error. If you are a marketer, for example, you would join a marketing group.
Contribute to the Group
Once you’re in the groups, take part. Social media encourages an active sharing culture so you should be giving more than you receive. Start discussion and join in others, offering advice and passing on your knowledge. People soon realize who the good guys are and you will be surprised who starts connecting with you. If you have an interesting news piece, share it. Play the game right and you will be rewarded by increased awareness.
LinkedIn offers you the chance to send messages directly to the people with whom you wish to engage. You already share common ground so with some clever content you can easily break the ice. You can request people to join your network and they will oblige if they see some relevance. By offering the opportunity to connect with your contacts you will initiate a two-way beneficiary. Again, it’s about being authentic, genuine and transparent.
LinkedIn search functions
There are various search functions you can implement to find the people you want. The same process will help you uncover companies in your [skills] area that would be worth researching. Before/after you apply for a job (via LinkedIn or not) why not seek some advice from people who are either working there now or who have in the past. This will help you prepare your application and, where necessary, tailor your cover letter. It will also provide useful knowledge at interview stage.
Make an impact
Don’t forget that the fundamental rule of networking is impact; leaving your contact wanting more. You need to be as proactive as you are reactive; ensuring your online presentation is as good as it is during the offline meetings LinkedIn will undoubtedly afford you.
Mark S. James, CPC
Hire Consulting Services