This post originally appeared in the G2 Crowd Learning Hub.
Your network is a powerful tool. So powerful, in fact, that there is an entire social media network dedicated to connecting professionals across the globe. LinkedIn has nearly 600 million registered members and 30 million companies represented worldwide, making it the world’s largest online professional network. With such a valuable ecosystem at your fingertips, it’s important to know how to network on LinkedIn in order to get the most benefit out of your presence on the platform.
Whether you’re new to the site, kicking off a fresh job search, or just looking rev up your activity in a productive way, the following tips will help you become a better LinkedIn networker.
Optimize Your Profile
First things first, if you want to leverage LinkedIn’s networking capabilities, you need to set up your profile so that people can actually find and connect with you. Ensuring all areas of your profile are complete will not only make you more searchable, but it will also impress visitors when they do land on your page.
Start with your headline, the section that allows you add a quick blurb about what you do. This section is important because it is the first thing users will see under your name on your profile, and it also displays on your posts in the LinkedIn feed, right next to your profile icon. Common practice for headline writing is to write out your job title and company here, but some people opt for a more creative phrase. For example, if you are a student or seeking a new opportunity, you may want to include some keywords around your skills and former positions so as to immediately cue recruiters that you are open to a conversation.
Next, refine your LinkedIn Summary. With 2,000 characters available, this is likely the most comprehensive bio you can write on social media. If done right, you can grab decision makers’ attention and convince industry counterparts to connect with you. In your Summary, it’s key to clearly and concisely give your audience an accurate picture of the work you do and how it differentiates you from the rest of the field. Incorporate key terms and phrases that hiring managers and colleagues are likely to search, and don’t be afraid to add a little personality to it as well.
One watch-out to be cognizant of with your LinkedIn Summary, however, is that you are not simply reiterating the information in your Experience section. Your Summary is to your cover letter as your Experience section is to your resume.
Use and Follow Hashtags
Once your profile is buttoned up, it’s time to get active on the platform. In the last few months, LinkedIn introduced a slew of new features that are aimed to drive engagement on the platform. One of these features is the ability to follow hashtags. When users follow a hashtag, they’ll see curated posts that contain those tags from brands and professionals. This is a great way to start finding and connecting with people who are sharing relevant content within your industry.
You should also consider using hashtags in your own LinkedIn posts. Adding these tags can help surface your content to members who may find it interesting. By sharing relevant, thoughtful content and hashtagging it appropriately, you can begin to build your thought leadership on LinkedIn. Just make sure you don’t go overboard with hashtags; we recommend 3-5 per post and adding a couple line breaks from your main copy to keep it nice and clean.
Leverage Groups to Grow Your Network
As a general rule of thumb, you should first connect with current and former colleagues on LinkedIn. You can do this by uploading a list of professional contacts, searching for people by name, or looking up employees of specific organizations by clicking ‘See all employees on LinkedIn’ on a company’s main page. Ensuring you’re connected to these people is a good start in setting the foundation of your professional network on the platform.
Once you’re ready to expand this network, groups are a great place to start. LinkedIn groups are one of the platform’s most robust networking tools. They give professionals a place to share insights and experiences, ask for professional guidance, and build valuable connections.
To get started with LinkedIn groups, try using the search feature to find groups relevant to your interests. This could be anything from industry-related topics to alumni networks. When searching, be sure to use common keywords and terms that other professionals in your field also use in order to pull in the most relevant results.
Groups provide a variety of ways to start and contribute to conversations. As a member, you have the ability to post articles, upload documents, share a video, and post text updates, in addition to @ mentioning other group members and commenting on other members’ posts. As you explore this territory, however, it is important to keep in mind a few best practices to ensure you’re contributing to the group in the most valuable way possible.
LinkedIn shares these tips for becoming a valued member in your group:
Invite discussion by using clear calls to action that ask for members’ input on a topic
Keep the discussion respectful, especially if you find yourself disagreeing with another member
Avoid coming off too salesy or self-promotional
When sharing links or articles, be sure to include a caption that states its relevance to the group
Getting Started with LinkedIn Networking
I hope you found this networking guide valuable. By optimizing your profile, taking advantage of interactive tools on the platform, and joining relevant groups, you’ll be well on your way building strong connections on LinkedIn. And remember, growing a professional network takes time if done properly. Be patient throughout this process, and happy connecting!