So, you’ve finally decided to try your luck at online networking – even if it is because graduation is looming and you want to become more visible as an up-and-coming graduate in your field. Your LinkedIn profile is looking good – you’ve got a nice headshot, catchy headline, and your summary says exactly what you want it to – but, how do you start connecting with people online?
Connections are Important
Don’t think of LinkedIn like other social networking sites. LinkedIn is for professional relationships and not your buddies. It works best for making purposeful industry connections, allowing you to connect with people you want to follow, discuss ideas with or work with.
This not only helps you build credibility as a professional, but also helps make you more visible in your field.
You can build your network in a number of ways:
- Add people in your field that you know – classmates, lecturers, guest lecturers or even someone you met at a networking event
- Add people you’ve heard/read about but don’t know personally, such as a connection of a connection or an industry professional you admire
- Connect to your LinkedIn connections’ connections!
Building Your Network
If you’re connecting with anyone new on LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to personalise your message – no one likes being randomly added by strangers. You could explain how you met them at a networking event the week before, or have worked for a similar company in the past.
Crafting a well-worded invitation is important, it can mean the difference between adding someone to your network and being ignored. A good invitation is specific and straightforward. If you’re struggling for inspiration, think of the five P’s – polite, pertinent, personalised, professional, and praiseful.
LinkedIn and those added extras
Like everything online, LinkedIn keeps revamping and adding in new features. Have a good look from time to time to see what’s new and see it there’s value for you in doing more with your profile.
There are a number of ways to spice up your profile beyond the basics.
Skills and Endorsements
LinkedIn lets you to personalise a skills and endorsements section on your profile. This allows you to add up to 50 professional skills to your profile. This is a great way to show off what you can do. Your network connections can even endorse your skills, which adds strength to your profile.
And, if you’re after an even better recommendation of your skills, you can even ask an ex-employer or colleague to write you a LinkedIn recommendation. This is similar to having a resume reference, and might endear you to perspective employers. However, if you find people are reluctant to write you a recommendation, don’t push it. Or, try offering to write one for them in exchange.
LinkedIn now allows users to create their own blog posts on their profiles. This can be a really great way to show off your knowledge and share what you’re passionate about – especially helpful for those who want to showcase their content creation skills online.
To be even more active on LinkedIn start joining groups you’re interested in – sharing relevant industry information, commenting on people’s posts or even writing and publishing your own articles.
You don’t need to be an expert to become an active contributor on LinkedIn – simply being an active part of the LinkedIn community will benefit your personal brand – prospective employers will be able to connect to your skills and interests with the simple click of a button.