With more than 800 million users around the globe, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for professionals in every field. Networking on LinkedIn is about more than just making connections, however; it’s a step into the professional world that can open doors to your dream career—if it’s utilized correctly, of course.
So, what does correctly mean, exactly?
At Vaco, we work with candidates and companies every day, helping both make meaningful connections in the hiring world. (We even use LinkedIn for networking ourselves.) If you’re looking to up your game–and maybe find that next great career opportunity–here are seven tips for successfully networking on LinkedIn.
Use a professional headshot.
First impressions are everything! Even if your photo isn’t shot in a studio by a professional photographer, it can still be a professional and flattering representation of you.
First, make sure to dress for success. Choose an outfit of solid colors (no busy patterns) that shows up nicely against your chosen background.
It’s also best to avoid using selfies; ask a friend to take your photo and make sure you’re framed from the shoulders up, with the camera pointing at eye level or slightly above. Pose at a 10 to 30 degree angle so you aren’t facing the camera straight on.
Make sure you have a good light source that won’t cast shadows. If you don’t have access to professional lighting, natural light can work perfectly; the best natural light usually occurs about an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset.
Update your profile regularly.
It’s important to keep your LinkedIn profile updated. Make sure to update all sections with the most recent information, including your headline, current position and company, About section, experience, and skills. Your profile is your time to shine, so be thorough in your list of accomplishments and skills; this will give visitors to your page a chance to get to know you and your professional background.
You can also take advantage of the recommendations and endorsements sections. Ask colleagues, co-workers, or former mentors to write recommendations that are visible to the public. You can also request endorsements for your relevant skills. These sections can help reinforce your expertise and experience to the people who visit your page and provide outside perspective on your performance as an employee and co-worker.
Make a list of everyone you’ve worked with in a professional capacity, and invite them to connect with you. You can also connect your LinkedIn to your email account, and the platform will populate a list of your contacts’ profiles.
- Start with people you currently work with or have worked with in the recent past; make sure to include connections who are familiar with your skills and abilities.
- Pay special attention to supervisors, managers, and directors in your circle; keeping their names in mind can help you build a network of potential mentors and coaches.
- Send direct messages to contacts you’ve haven’t interacted with in a while, and reconnect with them on a personal level.
Once you’ve made connections with your personal contacts, make a list of professional job titles or target industries that match your own or the ones you’re interested in. Send connection requests to individuals who have similar titles or industry links; this will help you grow your network and build relationships outside of your immediate professional network.
One important thing to remember: it’s never good to send blind requests to anyone with a certain job title or industry connection. Personalize your outreach efforts! Always include a message with your invitation explaining why you’d like to connect with the individual. Better yet, consider investing in LinkedIn Premium so you can send private messages and strike up a conversation before requesting to connect.
Sharing regular updates, such as original content you’ve written or relevant news articles, will keep you in front of your network and invite engagement from your connections. Try posting once a week and increase your posting frequency as you build your base network. Keep your posts short and professional. Include an eye-grabbing picture and use hashtags that are common for professionals in your industry.
Check your profile regularly for reactions, comments and feedback on your posts, and make sure to respond to any individuals who engage with your content.
Interact with your network.
Once you have built your network base, your LinkedIn feed will begin populating with content from your connections. Use this feed to interact with others and engage with the content they share. Provide positive, insightful feedback, share your own perspective, or say thank you for the opportunity to start a dialogue about an important topic. Make sure to keep your interactions respectful, professional and courteous at all times.
Market yourself with videos.
Videos are a great way to give your LinkedIn network the chance to get to know you on a personal level. A short, insightful video captures people’s attention more easily than written posts, and gives you the opportunity to showcase your public speaking skills and your ability to capture an audience’s attention. A video that showcases your authenticity and personality also helps build your followers’ trust.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. Remember, LinkedIn is a social networking platform designed to help professionals build connections in chosen industries and workplaces. After establishing a new connection, follow up with a message that is clear about your “ask.” This could be a face-to-face meeting over coffee so you can learn more about the connection’s current company or gather info on the hiring manager who recently posted a position. Many people enjoy mentoring and helping others succeed, especially if they received similar assistance or mentorship early in their careers. One of the best parts of networking is paying the kindness forward.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you unlock great professional opportunities. By following an effective strategy for growing your network, you can meet and engage with incredible people and expand your industry footprint.
Ready to take the next step in your professional journey? Vaco is with you all the way.