Whether you are still in school or working in the career of your choice, the importance of professional networking simply cannot be overestimated.
In the past, networking outreach often took the form of handwritten letters and face-to-face office visits. These traditional forms of networking may still have a place in the modern business environment, but in the wake of the digital revolution, more and more networking activity is taking place online. And you cannot tackle online networking effectively without considering the tremendous power of the social media site LinkedIn.
In fact, the independent online marketing authority Influencer Marketing Hub recently published some startling statistics that testify to LinkedIn’s enormous influence. Over 660 million users belong to LinkedIn’s professional network, and these users span 200 countries. LinkedIn is also home to more than 30 million companies, many of which are looking for high-quality professionals to join their internal teams.
Furthermore, it doesn’t look like LinkedIn will be going away anytime soon. LinkedIn officials report that two new users join their online platform every second.
No matter where you happen to be in terms of career development, LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that you should learn to use thoroughly. Even if you are still working toward your college degree at an accredited institution of higher learning like The University of the Tennessee Chattanooga, you owe it to yourself to master the LinkedIn landscape and leverage its benefits to achieve your professional and personal goals.
So, what is the best way to network on LinkedIn, and how can you make your LinkedIn connections more meaningful? Here are five different ways you can network and make important connections using LinkedIn.
1. Create a Strong Profile
You want to ensure that your professional history and all other information on your LinkedIn profile is both comprehensive and up to date. But this is only the beginning when it comes to developing the ideal profile for networking.
As part of its InHelp program, LinkedIn recommends using your profile to develop and manage your personal brand. This means that you should employ it as a tool to define and display your professional personality as a culmination of your values and attitude as well as your experience and skills.
Use the highly customizable LinkedIn platform to your advantage by putting your best foot forward. Make a good first impression by placing an attention-grabbing headline beneath your name on your profile.
According to the LinkedIn Talent Blog post “10 Tips for Picking the Right LinkedIn Profile Picture,” your professional photo may increase your LinkedIn profile views by more than 200 percent. For maximum effect, choose a high-resolution picture of your face with an expression that reflects your personal brand. LinkedIn recommends dressing for your photo as you would for work, avoiding distracting backgrounds, and making sure that your face occupies roughly 60% of the frame.
2. Share and Respond to Content in Your Industry
If you want to increase the visibility of your own profile on LinkedIn, it is an excellent idea to visit the profiles of others. As you share new content and comment on existing content that relates to your professional areas of interest, that activity will show up on the newsfeeds of all your “first degree” LinkedIn connections.
By posting this activity, LinkedIn promotes open dialogue among like-minded members and fosters connections between industry professionals who might otherwise never meet. Make the most out of each post you share and comment that you make by selecting them carefully. Keep in mind that particularly sensational and thought-provoking posts will more dramatically increase your networking outreach.
3. Update Your Status on a Regular Basis
Another great way to boost exposure for your LinkedIn profile is to post regular status updates. However, the sheer quantity of posts on a profile isn’t as important as the inherent quality and relevance.
Make each post meaningful by offering helpful advice and/or keen insights that relate to your industry of choice and reflect your unique expertise. In short, when you post thoughtful professional content, you will attract the attention of people with similar professional interests and concerns.
Posting meaningful profile content and status updates on a routine basis is probably the best way to increase your overall LinkedIn visibility. And by ensuring that your posts are industry relevant, you can make connections of significant career value.
4. Request to Connect to Leaders in Your Industry
LinkedIn makes it incredibly easy to reach out to specific people of influence in your chosen professional field. Take the time to cultivate LinkedIn connections with a specific focus on building relationships that are mutually beneficial.
If you want to grow your LinkedIn network quickly and substantially, you will want to investigate the potential of LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONS). Members of this group are committed to maintaining an “open network,” meaning that they accept invitations from all other LIONS members. As you watch your network expand exponentially, you will dramatically increase your chances of connecting with individuals and companies of interest.
5. Be Active – Respond to Questions and Comments
A big part of connecting with others on LinkedIn is sheer availability and responsiveness. Both online and in the “real world,” people appreciate a warm personal reception.
When other LinkedIn users reach out to you, make every effort to get back to them in a timely fashion. Whether they send you a direct message or comment on one of your posts, respond promptly in a kind and professional manner.
By graciously answering questions and showing appreciation for online support, you present yourself as a valuable member of the LinkedIn community. This approach welcomes emerging and ongoing correspondence that just might make all the difference in your career trajectory.
While it is never too early to reach out and make professional connections on LinkedIn, you easily can miss out on key career opportunities if you wait too long! If you need help mounting and executing a successful networking campaign on LinkedIn or other important online platforms, there are plenty of organizations and agencies who can guide you and lend a hand. MBA students at The University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Rollins College of Business can get assistance with networking among countless professional development endeavors through the graduate career services provided to current MBA students and alumni.
Influencer Marketing Hub, “50 of the Most Important LinkedIn Stats for 2021” by Werner Geyser https://influencermarketinghub.com/linkedin-stats/
LinkedIn InHelp “How Do I Create a Good LinkedIn Profile?”
LinkedIn Talent Blog, “10 Tips for Picking the Right LinkedIn Profile Picture”