Searching for a job is all about making connections and going the extra mile. That’s why LinkedIn is considered to be an essential tool for job-hunting and is intended to serve the more skilled job candidates – or at least, those who know a thing or two about networking. LinkedIn helps you get introduced to like-minded professionals around the world and gets you closer to job opportunities that you may be interested in. However, many people don’t know how to make the most of it to get a job.
While having a LinkedIn profile is great for jobseekers, how effectively they use it will determine their chances of getting noticed by employers. On LinkedIn you can follow someone without connecting with them, but which of the two would be more beneficial to you in terms of looking for a job?
What I am saying is that, it’s not enough to say that you have a LinkedIn account, you have to actually use it to connect with other professionals. Following someone can be good – but is it better than connecting with other people and introducing yourself to employers in an attempt to get yourself out there?
One of the main reasons for someone to be on LinkedIn is making new business contacts. Even if your profile is complete and you have your career summary, work history, skills endorsements and recommendations, not many people will get to see it if you don’t make an effort to make more connections.
This means that you can’t stay idle through your LinkedIn journey and learning the differences between following and connecting on LinkedIn should help you find out why and when it is more appropriate to do the one instead of the other.
When LinkedIn only allowed users to connect with people it meant that you were automatically following each other and would get updates on what they posted on their LinkedIn news feed. Now users can follow other people and employers through a one-way link. The ‘Follow’ feature first appeared on the site when the LinkedIn’s Influencers program was launched in 2012. LinkedIn influencers were selected by the LinkedIn Editorial team and were featured as ‘experts’. This meant that you could follow them and get updates on what they shared.
In 2014, the ability for LinkedIn users to write longer posts granted them the ‘Follow’ buttons on their profiles too, without having to go Premium. But the following only works in one direction. So if you are following someone that person cannot see your content, but you can get instant access to what they are sharing without having to connect with them.
In contrast, to connecting with other people, following expresses your interest to get access to the content other people share without making that connection official or considering the other person as a close personal or professional contact. This gives you more control over what you are willing to share with others and whether you choose to accept a LinkedIn request or not.
The way connections are established on LinkedIn is quite straightforward. You send the other person an invitation to connect, and they choose whether they want to accept or reject it. If the response is positive, these people become your 1st-degree connections, and their connections become your 2nd-degree connections. These individuals are the contacts that make up your LinkedIn network and are usually people who you have a link with. So you might know each other, have done business together in the past, or you are hoping to since you work in the same industry.
The good thing about making connections on LinkedIn is that you have the option to connect with strangers. Even though LinkedIn will need you to answer how you two know each other and sometimes have to confirm the other person’s email address – which you obviously don’t have, you can always list them as friends and the connection request will be sent.
An advantage of connecting over following is that when you connect with someone you are automatically following them, and they are following you. So why not go all the way and send that request instead of just following the other person?
In case you are wondering how you can do that, here are some tips:
The best way to approach employers and other professionals on LinkedIn is to personalize the connection request. To make sure you will stand out remove the default message that reads ‘I would like to add you to my network’ and instead introduce yourself and give the reason you are contacting with them. It is much more personal and effective.
The more you contribute in LinkedIn groups, the more connection requests you will get from people that aren’t your 1st-degree connections. This not only saves you valuable time going through the list of contacts you might know, but also shows other individuals that you know your craft, and you are passionate about your subject.
Your connections are more likely to return a favour when they get a compliment about their work, or when their efforts are being recognised. When you are connecting with others, you need to make it clear that you are interested in what they are doing. In fact, this is an unwritten basic LinkedIn rule. So, if you want to be considered for a job you first need to give love to get love.
Do you have a LinkedIn account? Would you prefer to follow or connect with other professionals? Let me know in the comments section below…