When used optimally, LinkedIn can be an invaluable resource for professionals. Boasting over 300 million members, it can provide users with the opportunity to build their brand and network with other professionals. However, not all LI profiles are created equally. While LinkedIn's technology and capabilities have continued to evolve over time, it is still the basics that bring professionals the most success.
Follow these tried & true steps to ensure that your LI network is poised for success.
- Give your profile a professional look. First thing's first: make sure your own profile looks polished before you start connecting with others. This includes adding a professional photo, writing a compelling headline, and completing all relevant educational and work history.
- Manage connection requests. When considering which connection requests to accept, keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional social networking site. Approach it like you would a business networking event-- it's unlikely that you would only speak to people you already know at such an event. Likewise, if you limit connections to close colleagues on LinkedIn, you're going to miss out on professional connections that could potentially lead to career opportunities. In addition, the more connections you have, the greater your visibility-- meaning that you're more likely to show up in keyword searches.
- Reach out and make connections. Don't sit around and wait for connection requests to come to you-- reach out and invite other users into your network. Consider connecting with current and former supervisors, colleagues, and clients. Don't be hesitant to reach out to a particularly inspiring professor from your college days, either; educational connections help contribute to a diverse and professional network. Remember, though, you can reach out to people you don't know too. If a potential connection works in your industry, is a prospective client, shares a group or professional network with you, or even attended your college-- go ahead and send that invite to connect!
- Stay active. You've accepted and extended invitations to connect and have built a large network-- now what?! It's time to start reaching out and communicating. Building an expansive network is unproductive if you don't take advantage of it and get to know the other professionals you've connected with. Keep your profile active by posting news and articles relevant to your industry. Ask and answer questions. Join professional groups and contribute to discussions. Make your presence known!
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