You likely had a strong reaction upon reading that word. Depending on who you are, you either grimaced or grinned at the thought of going out, making contacts, and turning those contacts into opportunities for your organization. Networking’s merits lie completely in the eye of the beholder (and, really, whether or not that beholder enjoys socializing with other people).
If you, like us here at Deprigo, believe that networking is a powerful tool for making friends with your neighbors and finding ways to help each other, then boy do we have news for you!
Like we would introduce you to a new, helpful contact at a mixer (we’re good friends like that), let us introduce you to LinkedIn- which is basically just networking on steroids and (probably) your organization’s new best friend.
LinkedIn is “The World’s Largest Professional Network” with over 500 million users. Due to its growing influence, LinkedIn has positioned itself as a go-to for hiring, lead generation, and the always popular “humble brag.” But more than that, it’s a place for you to connect with other business people in your community, to share thoughts about your industry, and touch base with those contacts that will expand your influence.
So, what are some easy ways you can put LinkedIn to work for you?
Take a moment to look at your career. You’ve done so much to get where you are today, and you have so much to celebrate! Look back on all it took to get you where you are. Savor the journey- the moments that took you from where you were to where you wanted to be. Appreciate all that this life has given you, and all the friends that you made along the way.
Then package all that up and put it in your LinkedIn profile.
Think of your profile like a report card where you get to tell people your story through glimpses at your greatest accomplishments.
Are you a passionate board member for a local non-profit? Great! Add that to your volunteering section and post about the amazing work you’re doing there.
Did you recently complete a big project that you feel represents your work as a whole? Upload it to your profile (unless it’s confidential, of course).
Are you the office excel guru, the one that everyone in the office comes to for help when crafting the perfect pivot table? Add that to your skills!
Are you an avid writer, but you don’t have a place to publish your works? Publish a LinkedIn article to share with your friends!
Your LinkedIn is your place to shine a light on your professional accomplishments. You are amazing at what you do, so don’t be afraid to talk about it!
Making connections on LinkedIn is just like meeting people at any mixer: somebody has to make the first introduction. Don’t be afraid to reach out to new people to make the connection, because that’s the name of the game.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of reaching out:
- Worst Outcome: They ignore you and neither of you thinks of it again.
- Best Outcome: You make a great new contact and begin a mutually beneficial relationship.
In this case, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Linkedin is also a great follow up tool for real-life networking, as well. Always be sure to connect with new people that you meet when you’re out and about, and pursue those relationships through the platform. It’s an easy way to keep in touch and make sure all of your in-person networking efforts don’t go to waste.
Also, this goes without saying, but be sure to add in all of your already existing contacts. But we’re sure you already knew that.
In a similar vein as #2 above, you need to be willing to make the first move. If you want people to feel comfortable engaging with your content, you have to be willing to bite the bullet first and share their content.
The Holy Grail of social media marketing is the almighty share. Don’t be afraid to share thoughtful content posted by your contacts to keep the conversation going. It helps them by exposing their work to a whole new network, and it helps you look like the good friend you are.
This will open the door to more interaction and collaboration with your peers, and it will expand everyone’s professional network. Everybody wins.
While you’re not a robot and sharing your dazzling personality on the platform is a great thing, please keep in mind that this is a professional network. So keep it… professional.
Unlike on other social media sites, its not likely your colleagues on LinkedIn are interested in photos of the spaghetti dinner you made last night, whatever cute thing your cat did today, or whatever Minions meme you came across this morning. If we’re being honest, they may not even be interested on Facebook either, but if this works for you, more power to ya! Keep your posting fun, but also professional.
Also, we hate that this needs to be said, but here goes… LinkedIn is also not the place to post risque photos. Just keep in classy, folks.
Use this space to share thoughtful details of your professional life. This is your chance to really shine in your expertise and showcase what work you are capable of.
So, what about you?
What are some ways that you’ve used LinkedIn to expand your horizons?