LinkedIn has become one of the most widely used tools for connecting professionally – especially in our increasingly virtual world. If you find yourself looking to make a career move, knowing how to use LinkedIn to network is an invaluable skill. LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site in the world, with ~660M members in over 200 countries. No matter what your career goals are, an effective LinkedIn strategy can help you reach them. In this article, we’ll show you how to use LinkedIn for professional networking – as well as some of the do’s and don’ts you need to know before you dive in.
How to Effectively Use LinkedIn
Knowing how to effectively use LinkedIn begins and ends with your profile. It’s your place to shine! Here are a few tips for brushing up your profile and insight into how to use LinkedIn for business networking.
Complete Your Profile
This is important because LinkedIn’s algorithm only finds profiles that are marked as complete. You can check by looking at “Your Dashboard” on your profile to see if you have any steps left to complete.
Add A Professional Photo
There are a few ways to make sure your profile shines. A good, professional profile picture is an easy way to set yourself apart from others who haven’t even taken this basic step. As you are building connections and cultivating your online persona, this picture will be your first impression. In a world where first impressions are everything and attention spans are fleeting, don’t automatically disqualify yourself with a poor profile photo.
Craft An Attractive Headline And Profile Summary
Your headline and summary account for 80% of your profile’s weight in LinkedIn searches. In addition, once you show up in searches that peers or recruiters are running, your headline has to be compelling enough to get them to click!
Instead of simply stating your profession or position, share your unique take on what you do, emphasizing key sills. Your profile summary should be a short and sweet “highlight” reel of your career – use both paragraphs and bullet points to showcase your writing ability while keeping the summary easy-to-read. This is not meant to be a resume or cover letter – the LinkedIn summary is your chance to offer a quick snapshot of your career arc and accomplishments.
Avoid using generalities like “great leadership skills.” Instead, give examples of ways you have used your leadership skills to lead your team to success.
Finally, end the summary with a Skills or Capabilities section. This is for LinkedIn SEO purposes.
Things To Consider When Building A LinkedIn Network
Now that you have an All-Star LinkedIn profile, the next step is to build your network. Building your network is a large part of how to use LinkedIn to network for a job, but there are a few things to know before you start.
More Isn’t Always Better
You want connections that can lead to a new business opportunity, job or provide you with meaningful help or advice. The right connections are more important than the number of connections.
Find Your People
Search for people you know or have met at professional events. If you’re a member of a professional group or Chamber of Commerce, search for their membership to add to your network.
Don’t be shy. Get out there and start using your voice by posting content that is relevant to your industry. You can create social-media-like posts or videos or publish long-form articles that showcase your expertise.
LinkedIn offers internal groups associated with different interests and areas. Simply search within LinkedIn for keywords that are pertinent to you. You can also reach out and ask your network which groups they participate in. Join those groups and become a contributor in the virtual community.
Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn Networking
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to use LinkedIn to network, there are a couple of do’s and don’ts to remember as you engage with your peers.
- Be selective and only choose groups that are close to your area of interest. You can also search school groups or volunteer organizations and get involved.
- Be intentional and active. If you join a group, be IN the group. Post information your group could benefit from as well as giving thoughtful feedback on posts from others. This is a great place to share your thoughts and ideas with those who can give you meaningful insight!
- Send Personal Messages to connect with someone and introduce (or reintroduce) yourself.
- Fill out your profile with recommendations, endorsements and project information. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for a helping hand from those you have worked with in the past. You can also pay it forward and reach out to those you have worked with in the past and offer to give them recommendations or endorsements.
- Be very specific about what you do and have accomplished in the beginning of your profile.
- Use LinkedIn to research companies you are interested in working with or for. You can search job postings, new hires and more.
- Send invitations to connect to everyone you’ve ever met. LinkedIn will restrict your account if you have too many unanswered invitations or send too many in one day. Your goal should be to build genuine connections.
- Send invitations without a personal message associated with it.
- Spam people or use every connection to try to make a sale or get a job. Be real and connect with the human on the other side of the screen.
- Make it all about you. If you share a post or start a discussion, make sure you are giving value. Take time to consider how you can help your group or audience before you post.
- Ignore your profile. Keep it active by posting at least once a week. Intentionally set aside time to post and engage on this platform or it won’t serve you. Carve out an hour or two on your calendar and get out there.
- Keep it all virtual. Get away from the computer and schedule calls or attend live events to get to know your network better.
As you immerse yourself in the world of LinkedIn, keep in mind that it’s about building real connections. If you remember that, you will have already mastered much of how to use LinkedIn for professional networking.
Does Networking on LinkedIn Work?
You may be asking yourself if all of this effort will actually lead anywhere or help your career. Studies show that knowing how to effectively use LinkedIn for job search networking makes a substantial difference in whether or not you get a call back or an interview. This is only the case, though, if you have a comprehensive LinkedIn profile and are active on the site. A bare profile can hurt your chances. It’s important to dive in, commit, and give yourself time to work on it.
Aside from helping you potentially find a meaningful position, knowing how to use LinkedIn for professional networking can bring so many other benefits to your career. LinkedIn can help build your unique personal brand and online presence, as well as capture your experience and your story in one place for colleagues and employers alike. LinkedIn is also a brilliant tool for building relationships with business professionals that could yield fruit for years to come. In addition, LinkedIn gives you access to the wisdom of others in your profession and an opportunity to share your wisdom in return. A shared brain trust can hit the accelerate button on your career in unquantifiable ways.
For you prospective consultants out there, LinkedIn is a powerful tool to learn about firms and connect with professionals in the field. However, it’s not the most effective medium through which to network. Our take on networking for consulting here.
It isn’t difficult to learn your way around LinkedIn, but it does require a strategy, intentionality and a commitment to stay engaged. Practice these simple steps, be generous, network wisely, and watch what happens.