How to Leverage LinkedIn for Your Needs
LinkedIn is a powerful network that provides tools to enable each individual to succeed. As LinkedIn gains exposure and prominence in the professional landscape, then it is important to understand how to use the network to meet your needs.
Many people feel LinkedIn is only valuable to individuals that want or need a new job. For the average LinkedIn user, that is likely a pretty accurate assumption. However, there are some great ways to leverage LinkedIn to meet any and all of your professional needs.
Naturally, like any approach to networking, it is easier to call upon peers based on your ability to stay connected to them. If you only check in on LinkedIn when you are looking for something, then there will be less likelihood that you’ll have an active audience. Great networkers take the time to stay connected to their colleagues and peers.
As Harvey MacKay, a notable author on networking and sales, describes:
you need to dig your well before you’re thirsty.
In Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success (Leveraging-LinkedIn-For-Job-Search-Success-2015), the authors detail how to create your personal brand through the social network.
As Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, explains it,
Post a full profile and get connected to the people you trust. Because if you’re connected to those people and you posted a profile, then when other people are searching for people, they might find you.
So, how does all of this stuff work?
First, heed the advice of Jeff Weiner and ensure your profile is complete. A complete profile is important for a few reasons. Notably, when people “google” your name, then your LinkedIn profile will be one of the first results. For professional reasons, your LinkedIn profile should be accurate and detailed to inform others of your work history and passions.
In Leveraging LinkedIn, the authors provide some tips to optimize your profile. Often, your profile headline is a precursor to success and the guide provides some formulas for writing an effective headline. Some tips include:
- Be Simple and Direct
- Include Portions of Testimonials
- Add Numbers and Specifics
- Avoid Buzzwords
Additionally, the Leveraging LinkedIn guide outlines some great features to include in your profile such as skills and uploading your work or projects. The guide contains a checklist to ensure users do not forget anything vital to success.
Second, once your profile is complete, find some more connections.
One of the more effective ways to expand your connections is join compatible groups. For example, if you are in sales, then join multiple sales groups and contribute to the dialogue in the group. To expand your personal network, then identify some group members that live in the same general location and reach out to them.
Sam DeBrule, a B2B marketer, outlined 5 Tactics to Build a Strong Network in Tech, beyond attending events. For many people, standard networking events turn into a business card swap and awkward standing on the outskirts, which is a waste of time.
In the example, then Sam provides a sample email to a fellow B2B marketer.
Although Sam just moved to a new city, looking to meet peers is a great icebreaker and way to find new connections. As an added benefit, you’ll now have a new colleague for the next large industry in-person networking event!
Setting up a complete profile and expanding your connections works for people in transition, actively looking for work and those networking for business needs. Essentially, your LinkedIn profile acts as the atomic unit of the network and the number of connections provides exposure to the network.
Third, LinkedIn works wonders because it enables users to demonstrate personality and expertise.
Why is this important?
As Daniel Roth, an Executive Editor at LinkedIn, details, about 45% of LinkedIn readers are in the upper ranks of their industries. Hiring managers, including VPs and CEOs are prevalent LinkedIn readers, therefore, if you share your expert knowledge, there is a good chance executives will read your perspective. (The NEAG blog attempts to accomplish this same practice!)
LinkedIn designed the publishing platform to enable professional to “explain and debate their world” to the community. Based on the underlying intent, there are some great ways to expand your network and engage with new professionals…or network effectively.
In order to engage with others and demonstrate expertise, then remember authenticity works. If you don’t typically talk in cliches, then there is no reason to write an article filled with buzzwords because other posts include the phrase of the day.
Mike Mallazzo provides some great publishing tips, among the most important, write with passion. If you are looking to transition to a new field, then there is no need to write about your current occupation or industry. Readers know when the author mails it in, so why not write about why you are excited to change gears? This leads to authenticity and engagement with future hiring managers.
Another great tip is show some thought. All too often, writing attempt think pieces that draw no conclusion and leave readers wanted something more. If you have an opinion, then include your point-of-view. In fact, including your position will likely help your thought process because your thinking will become public. Along those lines, if you are writing a B2B piece, then a clear call-to-action will benefit the readers as well.
As a final takeaway, consider this recommendation and ask yourself a simple question before publishing.
Would your friend know it’s you writing?
Small steps make a big difference. It will take time to develop a following and build your reputation. Ensuring that your online and offline personality (and brand) align makes a world of difference in networking. People invest and work with those that they trust. Developing expertise and credibility through online networking only strengthens your offline reputation.
Again, this works wonders for all LinkedIn users, not simply job seekers. Proper networking is about engagement. Ensure your network is cognizant of your current position and desires because people will only think about your needs if they know about them. And people will only promote your skills to their network if you are trustworthy and credible.
Finally, a major reason to leverage LinkedIn is driving business growth. Neil Patel, a highly reputable marketing expert, explains why LinkedIn works.
People are not using LinkedIn to entertain themselves or to kill time like they do on other social networks. They are actively looking to build their brand, learn about their industry, or improve their career. They are looking for opportunities to engage with people and companies on the network.
Essentially, LinkedIn is a powerful network because it allows people to connect to the missing pieces in their professional lives. Although, Facebook and Twitter receive more press about fitting with marketing plans, LinkedIn drives lead generation.
For a business looking to grow (and isn’t that everyone?), then understanding how to use LinkedIn correctly can be vital to long term success.
As Neil Patel outlines, lead generation works so well because LinkedIn enables users to:
- Reach More People with Less Effort
- Zoom in on Target Audience with Groups
- Grow your Personal Network with Peers
- Add Value by Sharing the Right Content
The greatest benefit of LinkedIn is simple, it allows you to be yourself in front of your future co-workers, managers and customers. LinkedIn provides a network of people just trying to advance their careers.
Hopefully, the NEAG community can leverages the benefits of the LinkedIn network at the local level. In fact, as Leveraging LinkedIn notes during their final thoughts, it is important to nurture local connections.
NEAG provides most of the same tools and capabilities to connect talent with opportunity, which can be amplified in-person as well. If there are any questions or comments, please let us know.