LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network—a powerful tool for professional connections, recruiting, and more. Yet many of its users fail to take full advantage of everything the website has to offer. Earlier in our LinkedIn how-to series, we shared tips and tricks for optimizing your profile. Now we’re advising you on how to maximize your networking experience.
One of the greatest benefits of LinkedIn is the ability to use your current personal and professional networks for advancement. With LinkedIn, all the tools are at your disposal to meet and/or reconnect with people who can impact your career. By practicing some of these tips regularly, you can more effectively utilize LinkedIn.
1. Ditch the premade messages.
Write a thoughtful, custom set of messages for each facet of LinkedIn messaging. Having a well-written note shows an additional attention to detail and provides a positive initial first impression. Create simple templates that you can customize to a potential or current prospect on a more personal level.
2. Ask for recommendations.
While it is nice to have endorsements of your skills, LinkedIn recommendations speak more to your abilities. Why? Word of mouth is considered the most effective form of advertising. Consider those who will vouch for your unique skills and abilities, then ask them for a recommendation. To request a recommendation on LinkedIn, select the down arrow beside “Edit Profile” and click “Ask to be Recommended.” Remember to forego the default request message and create your own custom message.
3. Connect as much as possible.
LinkedIn Advanced Search is a powerful tool for finding others based on your current connections. By clicking the “Advanced” link beside the search bar, you can search for people based on job title, location, alumni association, and more. Don’t hesitate to accept invites from others. When you increase your 1st degree connections, you increase your 2nd degree connections, which can lead to more strategic links.
4. Join in on the conversation(s).
Another great feature of LinkedIn is the variety of professional groups available. Start by joining a few that are relevant to your industry and job title. Join alumni groups and other associations you belong to. Once you join, engage in conversation and regularly offer input to demonstrate your knowledge and competence on a range of subjects.
5. Follow, follow, follow.
Do you have a company you hope to work for one day? Follow them on LinkedIn to stay updated on company news and job openings. Do you admire a particular thought leader? If so, follow them; it will not only add fodder to your home page but help keep you abreast of breaking news.
6. Add your two cents.
Regularly share article links and other relative content. That demonstrates a level of thought leadership, and your activity is shared with your connections via their profile pages. The more you post, the more your connections will see you, which could lead to additional professional or networking opportunities.
Make the most of your LinkedIn experience! Increase your social and professional networks presence. Your next important connection could be looming. What you know AND who you know are keys to success.