You don’t need to wait for the next industry networking event to start making meaningful connections in their field. LinkedIn is a great place to network, find job opportunities, and connect with thought leaders and experts in your industry or field. With the right approach, you can start networking from the convenience of your phone or laptop.
What is LinkedIn?
With over 675 million monthly users, LinkedIn is the largest professional social media network. People use LinkedIn to keep in touch with coworkers, clients, and associates, but it has the potential for much more than that. You can make connections that boost your career opportunities and connect with people you’d never normally have the chance to meet in person. Regardless of your field or industry, you can use LinkedIn for networking.
How to use LinkedIn for networking
Build a standout profile
First impressions are as important online as they are offline, so it’s important to build a LinkedIn profile that stands out and represents you and your experience, expertise, and goals. Your LinkedIn profile is a bit like a resume, so be sure to keep it professional and to the point. Below are some essential tips for how to optimise your profile for LinkedIn.
- Fill out every section and tailor it to your experience and your goals. Be precise and concise about the responsibilities and achievements of your past and present roles.
- Include a profile photo. If you can’t get professional headshots done, make sure to choose a quality photo where you’re smiling, looking into the camera, and dressed neatly. There should be no other people or objects in the shot.
- When using LinkedIn, your profile headline will be the first thing people read about you, and should summarize your current situation. This doesn’t have to be your current job title, but it should be related to your expertise. If you’re a recent graduate looking for your first job in your field of study, you can edit your headline to say “Recent Engineering Graduate”.
- The "About" section is your chance to put in your own words who you are, what you do, and what you're looking for. Keep it concise and avoid using too much jargon.
- Add links to any examples of work, or to your website if relevant.
- Think broadly about your experience. Include any volunteer work, internships, student organization work or summer jobs if you're a student or recent graduate.
- Don't ignore skills, interests and accomplishments. These sections can add that extra piece of interest to your profile. Be sure to add at least a few skills (but don't go overboard), as well as any second languages, awards or relevant accomplishments.
Over time, you'll be able to seek and receive endorsements and recommendations from connections you've made. These help to add credibility to your profile, and you can reciprocate the gesture, which is a major part of LinkedIn networking.
Make connections and interact with people
Start by connecting with people you already know and trust, whether you’ve worked together, studied together, or met through friends or coworkers. If you’re reaching out to old contacts, consider adding a short message reminding them of how you met.
Once you’ve built up some LinkedIn connections, look for opportunities to engage with them. LinkedIn provides a number of ways to react to content that people share: Like, Celebrate, Love, Insightful and Curious. Add these reactions to the content and news shared by your connections. Congratulate people on their achievements, comment on interesting news or information, and support people by sharing their articles and links in your own feed. This will help to get your profile viewed by others, and may even encourage people to reach out to you and ask for your email address, phone number, or other social media accounts. It also keeps your profile looking active and up to date.
LinkedIn has a huge number of community groups based on industries, skills, and interests. Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to you and chime in on their conversations. Taking part in these groups and discussions will allow you to establish relationships with other people in your areas of interest, and increase the likelihood of people visiting your profile and reaching out to you.
LinkedIn groups can also be fantastic places to get advice on your job search and how to take the next step in your career. New job seekers and experienced professionals alike can mix and mingle in one place, sharing best practice tips and other advice. Just be mindful of group community guidelines and etiquette.
Follow organizations and thought-leaders
You can also follow organizations and people of interest, so that their content will appear in your feed. This helps you keep up to date with relevant news and trends.
Following key thought-leaders or experts in your field provides a first step to networking without adding them as a connection directly. Before reaching out to these people, you can put in some groundwork by engaging with their content and learning from what they post and share. You'll also gain insights and take cues from how they interact with their own networks, too. If the time comes where it makes sense to reach out, you'll already be familiar with their work and opinions.
Create original content
One of the best ways to network on LinkedIn is to create and share original content. You can establish yourself as an expert in your field by writing LinkedIn articles and sharing them among your networks and groups. It's an effective way to establish a voice for yourself and there's no barrier to entry - anyone can post an article on LinkedIn.
The more your original content is shared, the bigger the opportunity to engage with more people outside of your immediate network. Respond to comments and questions – the comments section is a great place to start connecting with new people.
Use hashtags when sharing your article so that it appears in relevant search results and attracts people who are interested in what you've got to say.
Reaching out to new connections
When you're taking that step to add connections – whether it's someone you've met recently at a real networking event, or someone you've only interacted with on LinkedIn – make sure to include a personal note introducing yourself and let them know why you’re reaching out. You may want to compliment them on an article they wrote, or acknowledge a shared interest. This initial message helps to lay the groundwork for the relationship, opens up a dialogue, and also ensures people don’t think you’re making connection requests at random.
If you do meet someone at an event in person, it can be helpful to bring LinkedIn into the conversation, so that they know you intend to follow up and connect with them later on. Sending a link to an article on a topic you discussed will not only help to jog their memory, but it's also a great way to keep the conversation going online.
LinkedIn networking is no different from regular networking
Networking is about creating and maintaining relationships, and it's really no different on LinkedIn. Put your best foot forward with an impressive profile, establish connections by engaging in discussions, and keep the conversation going by checking in with people in your network and celebrating their successes. You'll be networking like a pro in no time. You'll be able to forge connections with interesting people and boost your career opportunities.