How to successfully network on LinkedIn

With more than 660 million users around the globe, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for professionals in every field. Networking on LinkedIn is more than just making connections; it’s an active step into the professional world that can help open the door to your dream career if used correctly. So, what does correctly mean?

At Vaco, we work with candidates and companies every day, helping make meaningful connections. (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 it’s not a studio headshot, dress for success. Choose an outfit that includes solid-color clothing (no busy patterns). Your photo should also show your profile from the shoulders up and you should be the only one in the picture. Another best practice is not to use a selfie, so ask a friend to take the photo for you.

Update your profile regularly.

It’s important to keep your profile updated. Make sure to maintain all sections, including your headline, current position and company, summary, experience, and skills. Your profile allows you to shine, so list all accomplishments and skills so viewers can quickly learn about your professional background.

Also, take advantage of the recommendations section. Ask colleagues or former mentors to write a recommendation that’s visible to the public.

Make connections.

Make a list of everyone with whom you’ve worked in a professional capacity and invite them to connect. You can also connect LinkedIn to your email account, and the platform will populate a list of your contacts’ profiles.

  • Start with people you currently or have recently worked with and who know your skills and abilities.
  • Pay special attention to supervisors, managers, and those above your current seniority to try and build a network of mentors and coaches.
  • Send direct messages to contacts you’ve not spoken with some time to catch up and reconnect with them on a more personal level.

Once you’ve connected with your personal contacts, make a list of professional job titles in your industry to target and spark conversation. Request to connect with individuals who fit that target criteria to grow your network and build relationships with professionals outside of your primary network. Make sure you don’t blindly connect, though. Always include a message with your invitation citing why you’d like to connect with the person on LinkedIn. Better yet, consider investing in LinkedIn Premium so you can send them private messages and strike up a conversation before requesting to connect.

Start posting.

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 your industry.

If you have unique perspectives to share, consider LinkedIn’s articles or SlideShare functions. That way, you can expand on your expertise.

Interact with your network.

Once you have built your network base, you will start to see a feed of content from your connections. Use this feed to interact with others and engage with their original content. Post positive, productive comments that are thought-provoking and insightful.

Market yourself with videos.

Videos are a great way to market yourself in front of the right people. A short but insightful video allows people to get to know you better. Videos capture people’s attention more quickly and help them build trust in you. Trust lies in both visual and audio cues. Host this on your profile page so anyone can view it. Above all, keep the content relevant and useful!

Stay active.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional social networking platform to build connections in 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 culture 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. Networking is about paying the kindness forward!

LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you unlock great professional opportunities. With these tips, you’re sure to grow your network and meet key people who can guide you to your dream job. Good luck!

Victoria McDaniel is a client and talent engagement associate at Vaco in Memphis who matches professionals in supply chain and logistics.