Networking is the most powerful tool professionals have as it can help open doors for them at every step. To meaningfully benefit your career, networking needs to be leveraged correctly which means that you need to attend networking events to meet and connect with other professionals in your sector. But, online networking can be just as - if not more - effective as it does not limit you to your local area and it gives you the opportunity to connect with extremely influential people in your sector no matter where you are.
LinkedIn, being the king of online network, can be tremendously beneficial, but to make the most of it you need to ensure that your profile is appealing and leverage it effectively. These twenty-five networking tips will help you do that.
1. Get Your Endorsements In Line
One of the best features of LinkedIn is that it allows current and past coworkers to endorse your skills. To many hiring managers this can work as a reference letter and they may be more willing to call you in for an interview if they know that your colleagues have endorsed you for skills that are needed in your role. But, even if you are not unemployed, or looking for a job, having endorsements can make you seem more experienced and more professional.
Generally, the social platform will get your connections to endorse you on its own, but if there are any particular skills you need, prioritise them and ask your closest connections to endorse you for them.
2. Thank People Who’ve Endorsed You and Reciprocate
The golden rule of networking is not to be rude. Don’t just kick back when you get notified that someone’s endorsed you, but thank them and endorse them back. If you’ve been endorsed by someone very influential in your network, take the time to pen a thank you note. Don’t be overbearing, but letting people know that you appreciate the time they’ve taken to endorse you (even if it’s just a click for them) shows character.
3. Ask for Recommendations
You may be uncomfortable with asking people to write a recommendation for you, but the best networking tip for LinkedIn anyone could ever give you would be to get over it and ask current and past coworkers (including managers) to write a recommendation for you. Make a list of the skills you’d like to get recommend for (team-work, taking initiative, leadership etc) and ask if they could focus on them.
4. Write Meaningful Recommendations for Others
Another great LinkedIn networking tip is to take the time required to write recommendations for others. This will usually make people feel that they need to write one for you as well. But, the key is not to focus on what you’re getting back, but make the recommendation as meaningful as possible for the other person. You can ask them if there’s something specific they’d like you to include, but generally giving a summary will give you good pointers about what way you need to go.
5. Join Relevant Groups
To grow your LinkedIn network you’ll need to join industry-relevant groups. It’s important that the groups you participate in are cohesive (if you are in marketing don’t join one marketing group and then an accounting group) and that they are all relevant to your sector, or the position you’re interested in. Having said that, this does not mean you can’t join alumni groups etc., but it’s essential that your main focus is groups that relate to your job title.
6. Be Active in Your Groups
What many people tend to do is join LinkedIn groups but then never actually participate in discussions. To leverage your presence, you need to be active. This will make you more visible, and it will also give you a chance to read up on industry trends, as well as get to know influential people in your sector. Being active in groups will help you grow your network while learning industry-related developments.
7. Find New Connections Through Groups
After you’ve identified the influential people in these groups, you then need to approach them. Finding connections through this method will ensure that you’re contacting people that are experts in the field, which also generally means that their opinions carry some weight. Needless to say, that if you want someone to introduce you to a potential employer, you want it to be one of these professionals.
8. Create Your Own Group
One of the reasons many individuals neglect to participate in their LinkedIn groups is because it can be extremely time-consuming, so as you’d expect, creating your own group can be even more so. But, if you’re serious about your goals and have time to dedicate to it, your career will thank you.
9. Post Updates Regularly
It’s important to update your account regularly, either by sharing content from other people, or (preferably) by creating your own. This will not only bring traffic to your profile, but it will also show people that you mean business.
10. Include a LinkedIn Button on Your Website/Online Portfolio
To build an effective personal brand online your presence on various platforms needs to be interlinked and this is especially important if you have a website or an online portfolio. Including a link to your profile will help take recruiters to your virtual CV and allow them to learn more about your brand as a professional. Keep in mind that if you spot recruiters on your profile, you need to invite them to connect.
11. Use the ‘Who’s Viewed Your Profile’ Tool
Although most users have this feature deactivated as it prevents them from stalking other users freely, if you are trying to leverage your career through networking, it’s a good idea to activate it. What this tool does is to notify you whenever someone visits your profile, while it also notifies other users whenever you visit their profiles. Activating it will allow you to see who’s looking you up, which in turn will allow you to approach and connect with them.
12. Use the @ Feature in Your Posts
The idea is to make yourself more visible and what better way to achieve that than by tagging other people (and/or companies) in your posts. This helps you appear in the feed of other users you are not connected with which can help increase your visibility.
13. Connect With People
It may seem obvious but many people forget that the key to effective networking is to connect with more people. This does not mean that you should connect with everyone you come across, as this will do little for your career prospects. But, you should actively seek to connect with people in your industry that can help you increase your prospects.
14. Network on a Daily Basis
To grow your network you are going to need to dedicate some time to it every day. You need to spend an average of 20-30 minutes every day to find new people you’d like to connect with and approach them. Bear in mind that networking does not just mean finding new connections, it also means catching up with old connections and slowly developing relationships.
15. Personalise Your Requests
Unless you tell it otherwise, LinkedIn will send a generic ‘please add me to your network’ request to every person you want to connect with. But, it’s important to personalise this request as you want to make a positive impression on people. Tell them who you are (use your elevator pitch) and explain why you want to connect with them. Keep it short but meaningful.
16. Understand Which Connections Will Be More Useful to You
Networking is basically a gateway to getting to know more people and increasing your career prospects. The more people there are in your network, the better are your chances. LinkedIn works under the same type of logic, but can be better put into effect since there’s a little number right below someone’s name that tells you how many people they are connected with. There’s a good chance that people with less than 100 connections are not very active on this platform and therefore have little to offer while people with over 500 connections will generally open more doors for you.
17. Don’t Focus on Acquiring a 500+ Network
Although it used to be all the rage, having a network of over five hundred people is no longer important. Users have now realised that it’s how you use your network that counts and not its size. If people see you being active and responsive they’ll assume that you have a strong presence and will try to connect with you. Avoid targeting the number and focus on gaining connections that are important.
18. Make Sure You Give Back
It’s perhaps the most basic rule in networking that you need to give back what you get. So make sure you reciprocate with endorsements and recommendations, and that you also actively try and help your connections achieve their goals. Whenever you make a new connection ask yourself what you could do for this person. Trying to help will make people trust you and have warmer feelings towards you which can lead to better career prospects.
19. Reach Out to Alumni
If you’ve just begun taking the whole networking more seriously and are wondering where and how to start growing your network then the best place to start is by reaching out to your school and university’s alumni.
20. Start By Creating a Core Group of Connections
Another great place to start networking is through the people you know. These connections will be your core group and you therefore need to make sure to include everyone you know. Even if you haven’t talked to them in a while, don’t hesitate to invite them in your network as the relationship could be mutually beneficial.
21. Use The Search Function to Find Connections
If you’re struggling to find people to connect with you can always use the search function. You can search for someone by industry or job title and it will filter results by connections you share etc. This can be great if you are considering a career change and would first like to network with some people in your target industry.
22. Build a Meaningful Relationship With Your Connections
The key to effective networking is to connect with the people in your network in a meaningful way. You shouldn’t limit yourself to just connecting with them, but rather, it means that you need to take active steps towards cultivating this relationship. Share and comment on things they post that are of interest to you, check in with them to see how they are doing and if there’s any way you can help them achieve their goals.
23. Invest Time in Expanding Your First Degree Connections
Your first-degree connections include colleagues, classmates etc. They are people you know personally and with whom ideally you’ve also worked with and are basically who you rely on for recommendations and endorsements. What’s more they are important for LinkedIn’s search algorithm and they can help you gain exposure and visibility.
24. Engage With Your Connection’s Updates
To become a master of networking, you need to understand that it’s not just about you. Being able to give constructive feedback and promote other people is as vital as being able to promote yourself effectively. Sharing your opinion about things your connections publish, asking questions and contributing to their posts will increase your visibility and drive people from their network visit your profile.
25. Add Value to Your Network
A crucial aspect of networking is that it allows people to find out more about developments in their sector. LinkedIn allows people to do just that even more effectively by being a platform where people can share news. If you’re interested in presenting yourself as a credible expert then you need to step up your game and start adding value to your network. Answer questions and pen your own articles, share your knowledge and make it your goal to help others in your industry move forth with their careers. This, in turn will help you to move forward with yours.
Are there any alternative websites you’ve been using to increase your professional connections? Let me know in the comment section below.