Despite knowing the importance of professional networking, many struggle with key elements such as maintaining connections, knowing what to post online, or how to grow their network effectively. If you have had a social media account and leveraged it for a long time, you may feel that you have exhausted all of your options for professional growth. If you are a mature professional unfamiliar with social media, you may feel overwhelmed with the process. Here are a few tips to help you leverage networking, especially LinkedIn, more effectively.
Your profile. It’s important that your profile is as complete as possible since this is what recruiters, potential clients, and new connections will be looking at, most times before they have spoken to you. You want to include the following elements:
A profile picture. LinkedIn profiles with professional headshots get 14 times more profile views than those without. Make sure that you use a professional photo, you are smiling, and you use a clean background.
Your branding statement. This will help potential hiring managers or clients see your value to the industry. Make sure to include measurable results whenever possible.
Keywords. Make sure to use keywords that will make it easier for hiring managers and clients to find you. Look at keywords that are common in your industry and keywords that are common in job postings you are interested in. Use them in your summary.
Recommendations. Ask coworkers and clients to write you a recommendation for past projects or tasks you have completed. This makes you more credible and helps you stand out.
Grow your network. You do want to continue to grow your network, but avoid connecting with people just for the sake of growing your numbers. Make sure that you have a reason for wanting to connect with someone, especially if you don’t know them personally. Always include a note inside the request to connect, let them know why you want to connect. Another thing to keep in mind on LinkedIn is when you want to contact a 2nd or 3rd connection you don’t know personally, first ask your 1st connection contact to make the introduction. This can alleviate any awkwardness on either side about the new connection, and the other person will be more likely to accept your request to connect since you have a mutual connection.
Network weekly. Make networking a part of your weekly schedule! Utilize LinkedIn’s notifications to help you stay up to date with your connections. This includes sending messages for work anniversaries, new jobs, and other professional achievements. Make sure to reply to all the messages in your inbox, even if it’s just to say “thank you.” You can also offer to write recommendations for your connections.