LinkedIn® users have asked themselves how best to utilize this premier online business networking tool, and if networking on LinkedIn will generate job inquiries, useful contacts, and/or business opportunities.
First, understand why LinkedIn is valuable:
- In 2011, Linkedin had already doubled its users from 2009. As of May 2014, LinkedIn has 192 million monthly users.
- According to Quantcast.com, about 40% of U.S. LinkedIn users can be labeled as “regulars.”
- The success of LinkedIn’s initial public offering in May 2012 led to worldwide headlines, and analysts remarked it was one of the top five IPO launches in a decade.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile always is up-to-date.
On your profile, list your previous employers so colleagues, clients, and service providers can find you. Remember that Google searches profiles for keywords so use the keywords needed to drive visitors to your profile. Many headhunters also depend on LinkedIn for sourcing candidates and often do this through keyword searches. The Summary portion of your profile is a good place to insert keywords, especially those that may not seem to fit elsewhere.
Make sure that you upload a professional headshot as well.
Author Neal Schaffer advises readers to consider a “pay it forward” attitude when it comes to LinkedIn Groups. He references Catherine Ryan Hyde’s 2000 novel “Pay it Forward” and writes:
In terms of social networking, this means first doing something for someone in your network without asking for anything in return. People do not forget when you do something good for them. (Your) networking will be most successful when you practice it with a Pay It Forward attitude; your own good deeds will extend beyond your own virtual network and will attract even more connections and valuable relationships.
As your network grows, you can maximize LinkedIn to connect to the people you need to reach.
Take notice of when your connections make new connections
Users make new connections usually when their relationships are the freshest, so this is when you should ask for an introduction. Systematically review your contacts and make it a habit to ask for introductions and offer to return the favor.
A last bit of advice
Start looking for and studying thoughtful LinkedIn literature. Neal Schaffer’s 2009 book “Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn”, and his website, http://windmillnetworking.com/blog, are good places to start. His “Dig Your Well before You’re Thirsty” approach to networking on LinkedIn and off-line is well worth your time.
Leveraging LinkedIn to build business relationships through specific techniques should be a key component of your overall strategy for maximizing your professional success.