I recently received a LinkedIn request from someone I worked with years ago. She'd lost her job, through position elimination, and wanted to reconnect to see if I might be able to offer some assistance. It had been several years (five or more) since we’d even worked together. We were connected on Facebook, but that only gets you so far in staying in touch with your professional network.
So many people avoid finishing, updating, or keeping their LinkedIn profile current. It is similar to your online resume, and is a great place to connect with other like-minded professionals. Add in the wide range of groups for professional associations, local networking groups, and skill-based groups and there are untold amounts of people with whom you could connect and build relationships.
Build your online network before you need it. Your network is something that is built, cultivated, and is active. It’s not a stagnant list of people on LinkedIn that you never see or never interact with. Be visible, have conversations, share stories, comment on posts and updates, Be There!
Where do you begin?
- Make sure your profile is 100% complete. LinkedIn has a step by step guide to help you finish it.
- Search out groups with similar interests, professional associations, or even keywords related to your profession or professions that you may work with through your job. Join them.
- Connect with people. Don’t be afraid to connect with those who reach out to you, or others you might find interesting. You never know what types of conversations could take place if you don’t make the first move.
- Participate. You’ll see discussions in groups, questions about your industry or profession, even conversations with local people where you can certainly “chime in.”
What’s In It For You?
- Professional growth
- People who are familiar with who you are, what you do, and your capabilities may refer business to you, or think of you for job openings that might not even be posted yet.
- Help when you need it—connections who can introduce you to a decision maker or an employer
- A network who can support you when you need it most, and who don’t see you as using them because you’ve already built that relationship
LinkedIn and building your online professional network can be confusing and intimidating. However, it is something that is a necessity in today’s digital world. There are a lot of other ways to utilize LinkedIn from business development, recruiting, active job seeking, and much more. But start with building your profile and connecting with people. Then those other things become a bit easier.
Contact me to help you use LinkedIn more effectively. And if I can’t help you, connect with Mike Yoder. He teaches different classes on how to use LinkedIn for individuals (beginner and advanced), for sales teams, and even for recruiters and HR departments and he runs the LinkedUp Grand Rapids website and LinkedIn group, which has more than eleven thousand members. I highly recommend him as a resource.
And, let’s connect on LinkedIn, too.
Written by: Rebecca Dutcher Photo: Forbes.com