How to Network More Effectively on LinkedIn
Today’s article is designed to help you understand the role of LinkedIn as a professional networking platform that can serve your goals better if you know how to use it more effectively. I’ll also provide you with what may be relatable context on why some people are resistant to being more active on LinkedIn.
I believe that LinkedIn is not in fact a social media platform, but a virtual room where we can converse and learn from others. This article will also introduce you to Think Bespoke’s Guide to Networking on LinkedIn with our foundational, intermediate and advanced LinkedIn networking steps.
Why I Recommend You Invest Time Networking More Effectively on LinkedIn
If we haven’t met, I’m on the other side of 40 and traverse what I call the “old school” and the “new school” of business networking. I understand the importance of business cards and building relationships and I also value the online tools available via platforms like LinkedIn. Clients affectionately call me ‘the LinkedIn Lady’ and are thankful for my helpful approach to showing them how to apply networking principles they’ve traditionally relied upon, and to apply them to the digital age and their LinkedIn activities.
Networking on LinkedIn means either continuing face to face conversations via messaging or starting conversations with connections you have not been in contact with for a while. If you have more introverted tendencies or simply do not have time to stay in contact with or reach out to your professional community, LinkedIn is a very handy way to stay in touch with others. Does this mean wishing your connections happy birthday on LinkedIn? Some sales people I’ve trained say they like receiving the LinkedIn notifications that their connections have a birthday. Personally, I have turned this notification off. I do not think LinkedIn is the place to wish people happy birthday and recommend to my clients that they do not list their birthday or marital status on LinkedIn. There are social media platforms for this purpose.If you have more introverted tendencies or simply do not have time to stay in contact with or reach out to your professional community, LinkedIn is a very handy way to stay in touch with others. Click To Tweet
LinkedIn is also a place where you can reach out to subject matter experts in their field, either by inviting them to connect or following them on LinkedIn. This is especially useful if they post value adding content on LinkedIn in their area of expertise, which is possible via LinkedIn Profile updates or LinkedIn articles published via LinkedIn Profiles.
A more recent trend on LinkedIn (and one that LinkedIn’s algorithms are giving preference to) is to share native video updates via LinkedIn, which is also another way to learn from others. I prefer the written word and the online conversations that occur on LinkedIn after I have posted a micro-story via my profile (see example below) or a LinkedIn article and people comment and discuss the content I have shared. Both are effective, and so it depends on your preferred content format, and the type of content the people you are trying to influence on LinkedIn like to engage with.
LinkedIn messaging is also where I have lots of conversations with others, with specific questions people wish to ask me about LinkedIn, a connection they see is a mutual connection, enquiries about Think Bespoke’s services, invitations to guest speak or as a result of people viewing my profile or engaging with my content on LinkedIn via likes, comments or shares. LinkedIn Profile analytics are helping people better understand that being more active and posting on LinkedIn can drive profile views and start conversations.
If you are like some of my clients, and would prefer not to post content via your LinkedIn Profile, you can simply tailor your newsfeed with relevant insights, unfollow connections who share content you do not value and privately message your connections if you wish to converse with them.LinkedIn Profile analytics are helping people better understand that being more active and posting on LinkedIn can drive profile views and start conversations. #LinkedIn #Analytics Click To Tweet
Why Some People are Resistant to Being More Active on LinkedIn
Given that recruitment or sales leads have traditionally been the focus for LinkedIn members, it is no surprise that some people dislike LinkedIn because new connections often use LinkedIn to try to sell to them. If you are a recruiter, LinkedIn is a key source of potential candidates for the roles you are currently trying to fill for your clients. If you are a sales person responsible for business development or a charity seeking strategic alliances and generous corporate sponsors, LinkedIn is a source of potential targets.Given that recruitment or sales leads have traditionally been the focus for LinkedIn members, it is no surprise that some people dislike LinkedIn because new connections often use LinkedIn to try to sell to them. #LinkedIn Click To Tweet
Think Bespoke works with both individuals who are using LinkedIn to make their next career move, and organisations who are embracing LinkedIn as a powerful content and networking platform to amplify awareness of their organisational brand by encouraging employee advocacy. The goal for your organisation when your employees network on LinkedIn is to attract both potential clients and to further develop your reputation as an employer of choice.
Our diverse client base means we often see two common scenarios:
- professionals admit they do not accept invitations to connect on LinkedIn from recruiters they do not know (which is often a decision they regret when they are actively job hunting!)
- senior leaders of organisations who are 45+ years of age who are tentative about being more active on LinkedIn and improving their profiles and company page because they are used to doing business via their face to face networks and are dubious about embracing their online presence.
Benefits of Networking more Effectively on LinkedIn
Here’s some of the reasons why I think you should consider networking more effectively (and strategically) on LinkedIn rather than just using it as a way to collect connections (which I see many people do) or, at the other extreme, ignoring invitations to connect and making no effort to understand how LinkedIn can help you achieve your professional goals.
Being more active on LinkedIn can help you:
- Build relationships
- Create and provide opportunities for yourself and others
- Teach and learn from others
- Create know / like / trust
- Encourage referrals and job opportunities
- Stay relevant and top of mind within and beyond your connections and industry
How to Be More Effective When Networking on LinkedIn
If you have heard me speak at a conference or event about LinkedIn, or enrolled in any of my online training programs, you’ll have heard me talk about Think Bespoke’s LinkedIn journey (featured in the diagram above).
I believe you first need to understand LinkedIn and brand yourself properly to get maximum value from being more active on LinkedIn. This means your LinkedIn profile needs to represent you well. I have written extensively about this and encourage you to read these articles if you believe your LinkedIn Profile needs some attention.
Once you are confident about how you are presenting yourself on LinkedIn, I’d like you to remember that LinkedIn is just like a virtual room at a professional event and that you must treat your connections like gold. Being connected to someone does not give you permission to sell to them. Also remember that all content you like and comment on via your LinkedIn Profile is seen by your connections, so keep it professional and relevant to your goals.All content you like and comment on via your LinkedIn Profile is seen by your connections, so keep it professional and relevant to your goals. Click To Tweet
Think Bespoke’s Networking Guidelines
We’ve trained 1000s of people to use LinkedIn more effectively as a tool to achieve their individual and organisational goals. It begins with understanding how to leverage the features of LinkedIn, branding your LinkedIn profile and / or LinkedIn company page and then being more active on LinkedIn with our foundational, intermediate and advanced networking steps.
Some of these steps are once off. Other steps are daily, weekly and monthly actions. In some cases you will also need to develop templates which you can adapt for follow ups and various rituals I recommend via messaging based on certain conditions. In all but two steps of the LinkedIn networking steps I recommend, you can do these with the free LinkedIn membership. Premium LinkedIn membership does have its advantages, but there’s a lot you can do on LinkedIn before putting your hand in your pocket. Your LinkedIn behaviours simply need a strategy or framework and a small amount of time from you every other day.Premium LinkedIn membership does have its advantages, but there's a lot you can do on LinkedIn before putting your hand in your pocket. Click To Tweet
Foundational LinkedIn Networking Steps
Here are 3 of the foundational LinkedIn networking steps I train in our online, 1:1 face to face and tailored corporate workshops.
- Be viewable and look at other’s profiles
- Connect with EVERYONE you know and spend more time on LinkedIn
- Send customised invitations to connect (in most cases)
You may also like to consider your online assets and:
- Insert your LinkedIn Profile link in your email signature
- Provide a LinkedIn Profile link from your photo in the About Us Page of your website
Intermediate LinkedIn Networking Steps
If you’ve mastered the full list of foundational networking steps we provide in our training, by building these into your daily, weekly and monthly rituals, then you are ready for our intermediate LinkedIn networking steps. Here are the top 3 of our 10.
- Reach out to those who’ve been viewing your profile (this is more powerful with a premium account as you can see all views, not just the last 5)
- Respond to endorsements
- Congratulate connections on trigger events such as work anniversaries or job movements
Advanced LinkedIn Networking Steps
By following our foundational and intermediate LinkedIn networking steps you will unlock the power of LinkedIn. In today’s article you’ve had a taste of some of our top tips. In our training I provide Think Bespoke’s Comprehensive Guide for each stage. Some of our clients master this very quickly, particularly if they’ve chosen LinkedIn as their primary online platform.
Our top 3 advanced networking steps include:
- Be more strategic and have a content framework for your LinkedIn activities, including micro-stories, native video updates and value adding content based on your goals
- Publish LinkedIn articles & respond to likes / comments
- Schedule your LinkedIn Profile content via a 3rd party scheduling tool
Take Action and Be More Effective when Networking on LinkedIn
Most people need a few months before they have embedded the daily, weekly and monthly LinkedIn networking rituals we train. Success comes to those who are self disciplined and have an overall framework to work to. We help our clients develop these content frameworks and, in some cases, help their digital communications and marketing teams manage this for the leaders within their organisation. We can also manage this for individuals and organisations who are too busy to spend time on LinkedIn.