Whether you are looking for a new job, running your own business or are an employed professional, mastering the art of connecting with other workers on LinkedIn will have a tremendous effect on your career path.
The numbers speak for themselves, LinkedIn is currently operating in 200 countries and has more than 738 million users. While some countries have yet to fully embrace LinkedIn as a networking platform, in the Netherlands it is one of the most powerful tools to grow yourself as a professional.
LinkedIn profileWhile having a solid LinkedIn profile is definitely a way to start, you are leaving a lot of opportunities on the table if that’s all you do.
Many of my clients struggle with fully embracing the power of online networking. Some of the common concerns that they have expressed are:
What if others do not respond to my requests? What if they find me annoying? What if I ruin my career chances? Behind those statements, hides the fear of rejection. As often happens when we put ourselves in unfamiliar situations where we have to operate outside of our comfort zones and reach out to others.
A few years ago, I was no different than my worried clients. I was shyly sending the invites and liking other people’s content only occasionally. That was only until I learned what a powerful tool LinkedIn was for gaining new clients and finding new work opportunities – I also was simply having fun on the platform!
If you are still doubting and undecided about how to approach using LinkedIn, wait no more! Follow these tips, and you cannot go wrong:
1. Optimise your profileThink of your profile as your extended online business card. It is the first impression someone will get of you when they land on your profile. Be strategic about what kind of “message” you want to convey with it.
You should know what the primary focus of your profile is. Are you looking for a new job or for new sales opportunities for your business? Maybe you are looking to expand your network and build a solid personal brand? Whatever your goal is on LinkedIn, adjust your profile accordingly.
Keep these things up to date and do not forget that your headline and profile photo are the core ingredients, so get them right.
2. Identify your target audienceDetermine for yourself with whom you want to connect and why. LinkedIn offers additional features to widen your network, for instance, the Sales Navigator allows you to keep extended lists of people you want to connect with. These additional networking features are paid options, but you can often try these for up to a month for free!
However, the free version also enables you to run searches for people and jobs. The additional features are not necessary for building a network, but it can certainly help!
3. Follow or connect with othersOnce you know who or what you want to get to know and your reason for doing so, it is time to connect. LinkedIn offers two possibilities: following or connecting with people. But what’s the difference between the two?
Following peopleFollowing is used for the people you do not personally know but want to follow their content. It allows you to see and interact with another user’s content and activity without being connected.
Connecting with peopleOn the other hand, connecting with another person on LinkedIn means that you can directly communicate with them through messaging. In order to connect with someone, you first need to send an invitation to connect. Once the person approves your invitation, you are ready to message your new connection.
If you have a low number of connections (below 500 in my opinion), I would suggest connecting with others first. Once you have achieved an ideal number of connections and you are actively publishing your own content, you can switch to following mode.
4. Personalised invitationsIf you are sending the invitations to connect – especially to the people you do not know yet personally – always personalise the message. Be respectful, kind, and mention the reason that you want to connect. You can let the other person know how you can bring value to each other.
5. Follow-upAfter your connection was accepted, follow-up with a thank you note. Also, if someone gave you a like or shared your content, reach out to thank them. Like with the personalised invitations, be genuine and kind. Be you.
6. Engage with the content of othersNetworking is about giving and taking. It would be wise to give first, before you ask others for help. You can do this on LinkedIn by engaging with other people’s content.
People often put their heart and soul into their content and appreciating it in the form of a like, share or comment can be highly valued. Obviously, the things that are mainly valued are “shares” as those are difficult to get. Next in the rank are comments and lastly “likes”. Be generous yet strategic in using all of these forms of giving and you can make a great connection.
It’s important to remember that networking on LinkedIn is also about building long-term relations, not just collecting followers. If you use any of these tips, let me know how it worked for you! Good luck!