LinkedIn is one of the first and most well-known professional social networking sites in existence today, with more than 225 million users and 300-plus million company pages. Additionally, because of its vastness and popularity, LinkedIn has become a powerful tool for recruiters to locate candidates. How can one benefit from this enormous network of professionals and employers, you ask? Let’s take a look at the many ways LinkedIn can help you enhance your career.
If you’re a job seeker, then LinkedIn is a great way to connect with potential employers and other professionals in your industry. A chief benefit of social networking is that virtual connections are far less intimidating because you don’t have to meet in-person to make the connection possible. For a vast majority of people, networking face-to-face is immensely nerve-wracking because of the fact that they have to spark a conversation with complete strangers. The day has come where people can successfully network from the comfort of their own homes.
For starters, clean up your LinkedIn profile so that you are portrayed in a positive and professional manner online. (Here is a post on getting your social media profiles in tip-top shape.) Next, find the significant companies and professionals in your industry and request to join their networks on LinkedIn. Create a brief yet appealing blurb (something they will actually want to read) that you can send to each person you wish to connect with, and be sure to customize the message where you feel necessary.
Attention-Grabber Tip: Do some research on the companies and people you wish to network with and incorporate your findings in your messages. In doing so, you will prove that you were interested enough in the company/professional to take time out and do a bit of research.
If a week or so has gone by and you have not heard back from the individual, you might want to see if you have any mutual connections that might be willing to help you out. LinkedIn makes it extremely easy for you to request an introduction from a mutual connection. (See screenshot below.)
By clicking the “Get Introduced” link, you can select which contact you wish ask for the introduction
You are more likely to get a response if your shared contact puts in a good word for you.
Always follow up with a genuine thank-you message after establishing the connection. A little gratitude goes a long way in the business world. Refrain from bombarding anyone on social media with too many messages or mentions because it may cause the person to distance himself from you. Remember, you want to get noticed, not become a stalker.
Hopefully, the steps outlined above will help you get started on building and strengthening your network on LinkedIn and other social media sites. Build the foundation first by updating your profile to reflect current and relevant data. Use the connections you have already to expand your network, but don’t expect everyone to vouch for you on a whim. Finally, follow up after the connection is made and stay in contact on a regular (but not suffocating) basis.
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Have you found it easier to expand your network online than in person? If so, share your experience with us on Twitter or in the comments section below.
Leah Arnold-Smeets, owner of Emiko Consulting, is passionate about helping entrepreneurs capitalize on their strengths, improve on their weaknesses, and reach their full potential. Leah obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Entrepreneurial Studies from the University of Southern California (USC).