LinkedIn is on a mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, and 300 million users can’t be wrong. Don’t have an account? Don’t panic. Become one of two people creating an account every single second and network your way to professional success with these top 10 tips:
1. Put your best profile forward
Before you even think about sending invitations to connect, ensure your profile portrays you in the best possible light. Complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities, so whether it’s employment or customers you seek, polishing your profile is a worthwhile investment. And it should go without saying – no selfies! Keep your profile pic classy, lose the sunglasses, and smile like you mean it.
2. Get optimised
Optimising your profile using keywords relevant to your job title, industry and experience ensures you appear in searches and increases your chance of attracting new connections, but don’t go overboard; more keywords aren’t always better.
3. Search party
Use LinkedIn’s search function to find and add people with which you’ve had professional contact. As Ariella Coombs of CAREEREALISM points out, “Always, always, ALWAYS include a personalised message! People want to know who you are and why you’re reaching out to them before they hit the “Accept” button. To increase your chances of getting accepted, include a brief message stating who you are, how you found them, and why you’re reaching out”.
4. Maintain connections
LinkedIn Contacts is a feature allowing you to bring together your address books, emails and calendars in one central location. It alerts you to job changes and birthdays: the perfect excuse to reach out and send some salutations!
5. Pay it forward
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to endorse your connections’ skills. Take a few minutes each time you log in to add endorsements and boost your contacts’ credibility, which will encourage them to return the favour. Similarly with LinkedIn recommendations, making the effort to write detailed, authentic testimonials for your connections will prompt them to do the same for you.
6. Get introduced
Stumbled upon a friend’s connection that you think you should strike up a mutually beneficial relationship with? Request an introduction using the Get Introduced feature, located in the drop down button on their profile header.
7. Back to school
LinkedIn’s University Pages allow you to connect with professional alumni that you may have collaborated with on uni projects and keep up to date with what old friends are doing now they’re all grown up.
8. Become a groupie
If you’re a seasoned user, chances are you’ve joined some LinkedIn Groups. They are a great way to network with likeminded folk whom you can invite to connect after initiating conversation. Resist the temptation to send invites willy-nilly. We recommend becoming an active and regular group contributor first through posting and interacting with users.
9. Start a conversation
Creating a status update is a simple and effective way to position yourself as an industry expert, promote a product feature, announce company news, and weigh in on newsworthy topics. If someone in your network appreciates your update and shares it with their following, you might pique the interest of a soon to be made connection.
10. Play the nice guy (or girl)
Step outside the mindset of monetising every relationship. If you see a job that’s perfect for one of your contacts, email it to them. You could even attend a launch event or fundraiser occasionally (yes, you’ll need to get off the couch for this one), but your efforts will be appreciated and remembered next time you decide to host an event or create a fundraising campaign.
Kristy is a career advice blogger at blog.opencolleges.edu.au advising you on everything from networking tips to career hacks and student tips. For more tips on finding a job, interview tips and networking check out our recent interview with the best career advice bloggers in 2014.