LinkedIn (Pt. 2): Networking!

Welcome to the second installment in our LinkedIn series! By now, you've learned all about the LinkedIn basics, including how to set up your profile and generally get started on the site.

Now we're going to delve into one of the main purposes of LinkedIn as a platform: networking. Professionals use the site to stay in touch with current or previous contacts, whether from their jobs or career events.

So let's get right into it!


Why should I network?

Honestly, I think everyone has their own reasons for professional networking. But I'll go through two of what I believe are the main purposes that someone should network:

  • Keeping current! You meet a lot of people throughout your career and it's nice to stay in touch and up-to-date with what's going on. Connecting with former or current co-workers, managers or contractors means you can see when someone has a job update, such as a promotion or a job change, and you can also see their posts, which will often be either personal or related to their industry/job.
  • Job hunting! One great aspect of networking on a professional social media platform is that recruiters use the site to look for potential job candidates. Networking with these recruiters, or even just your coworkers, means more opportunities for finding a job. While some people may reach out to you directly for work, sometimes you'll just stumble upon something posted by a connection!

I personally tend to use LinkedIn more for the former than the latter, as I absolutely love keeping in touch with all of the amazing people I've met over the years. When someone gets a new job, I reach out and say congratulations, or when I see a great post, I'll comment with my input.

That being said, I have found two of my jobs through LinkedIn! On both occasions, I was contacted via messaging by a Human Resources (HR) specialist or recruiter.

My advice: use LinkedIn as best fits your situation, but definitely at least use it to stay in contact with people you've met.

How do I network using LinkedIn?

Good question! There are a few ways of networking, so I'm going to list them out along with some tips and pointers on how to network successfully.

  1. Adding your colleagues and professional contacts - don't be shy! When you start at a new job and start meeting everyone, feel free to then request a connection on LinkedIn. Since it's not Facebook, it doesn't have that personal feel to it that means sharing photos of your dog or updates about your relationship, but it does allow you to see their alma mater, college major or previous companies. Who knows, maybe you went to the same school or were part of the same Greek organization?
  2. Joining groups - check out topics that pertain to or interest you! LinkedIn has a Groups feature that allows you to search for and join groups for your industry, job or personal interests. They have everything from culture and language to industry and career, so look through your options. Groups will often share posts regarding its topic with members on which you can provide your input or feedback. Sometimes, people will ask for advice or help, which is great for getting your name out there! I just love seeing what's going on in my industry.
  3. Following business leaders or companies - a ton of people and businesses have their own pages and LinkedIn allows you to "follow" them to see their posts and updates on your home page. Do you have your sights set on a job at IBM? Following them means that you'll see all of their posts, updates and insights so that you know when new jobs are available and stay current with their company updates. What's great about following specific businesspeople is learning from them through their ideas and reflections, which they often post on the site.
  4. Cold connecting with strangers - this is for the more adventurous out there, but definitely worth it in the long run. I personally do this when I want to connect with someone I admire or want to learn something from. For example, in my industry, there are a lot of really innovative entrepreneurs out there and I've reached out to a few CEOs of smaller, related companies to message them about advice or simply just to connect and see what they get up to.
You've got quite a few options for networking on LinkedIn, so I suggest you go through the list above and at least push through the easier ones to get started.


Final Notes

Now you should be on your way to a pretty awesome LinkedIn profile, if I do say so myself. Remember, all of these steps are meant to guide you through the process and help you get on your way to being a full-on adult professional.

If you have any questions at all, leave a comment below or reach out to me via Twitter. Share your profile with me so I can see how you're doing; I'd love to see how my tips are implemented in real life.


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