Networking is more important than ever, and more and more people are choosing to network online. There are a wide variety of networking platforms, but the most popular online networking platform is easily LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is one of the best ways that you can connect and network with people from all around the globe, whether it be people in your industry, potential employers/ employees, clients, or even strangers from across the world.
If you’ve heard about LinkedIn and are considering creating an account and getting started, then this post is for you. Keep reading for our beginner’s guide to using LinkedIn.
What Is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is essentially a networking platform with aspects of social media. Some have described it as ‘Facebook for business’ – and this is a pretty fair description. On LinkedIn, you can post, share content, make connections, and set up a profile – however, the majority of posts are business-related.
The site launched in 2003 and has quickly risen in popularity to become the most popular networking platform, with over 810 million members from over 200 countries and territories around the world.
LinkedIn is also great for employers and job seekers, with a whole section dedicated to open job roles. You can even go on ‘recruiter’ mode or ‘open to work’ mode, making it easier to find potential employees and to find the perfect role.
When you’re setting up your profile on LinkedIn, you have the opportunity to include your work and education history and information about your current role. As it’s for networking platform purposes, it’s usually best to avoid including information that you wouldn’t want your bosses or recruiters to see.
If you’re a business owner, LinkedIn can be a great way to connect with new clients. It allows you to build professional relationships for whatever reason – whether it be to further your career, improve your skillset, ask advice, improve your brand reputation, or acquire new clients.
Like with the popular social media platform Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to post regularly and engage with other users’ posts. You can share blog posts, updates, pictures, and videos, as well as links to other pages. You can also react to content, whether you simply like it, applaud it, or celebrate it.
LinkedIn is a great way of improving your online networking – see this blog for more information.
Creating A LinkedIn Profile
Once you open LinkedIn, the first thing you should do is create your own profile. Your profile will influence other users’ first impressions of you, so you must take the time to create the perfect LinkedIn profile.
Your LinkedIn profile is the space in which other people on the platform will access information about you – including the industry you’re in, the reason you’re on LinkedIn, your current role, your education history, your career history, and your key skills.
You’ll have the chance to write a small ‘about me’ section, where you can put anything relevant. For example, if you’re utilising the platform to look for the perfect role, that would be the space for you to demonstrate this – for example “I’m a real estate professional looking for the perfect role in Chester’.
When building your profile, you’ll also be asked to upload a picture. This picture should match the tone of your profile – if you’re a solicitor looking to connect with new clients or find a new job, it probably isn’t the wisest decision to upload a photo of yourself drunk with a bottle of vodka in your hand.
However, you don’t need to dress formally for your LinkedIn photo. Many people will decide to use headshots, but it should be fine as long as you look somewhat professional or respectable.
Once your profile is set up and ready to do, you’ll be able to add a variety of skills (for example, Microsoft Office, SEO, and Teamwork). People that you connect with that have worked with you on projects or jobs can endorse these skills, giving credibility. This can also make you appear more hireable, and boost the traffic to your LinkedIn profile.
Now to the main reason that people use LinkedIn – making connections. One of the best parts of LinkedIn is that you can connect with pretty much anybody from any industry, any location, and any background.
There are over 800 million members on LinkedIn right now – which is a lot of people to choose from. One mistake that many people make when finding people to connect with is not realising that people get a notification when you look at their profile. If you plan on checking what your ex is up to on LinkedIn, then be warned that they will know about it.
An established LinkedIn user will have over 500 connections. However, once you’ve got a couple of hundred connections secured, then more people will be likely to send you connection requests. If you’re active on LinkedIn, you’ll probably get between 5-10 connection requests per week.
You don’t want to clog up your LinkedIn feed with boring or irrelevant posts, so be sure to check out profiles before connecting with them. Are they sharing valuable content? How could you benefit from connecting with this user?
If you want somebody to accept your connection request, send them a message explaining why you want to connect with them. This is part of LinkedIn etiquette, although it may take some getting used to.
Posting to LinkedIn
Too many users make the mistake of not posting on LinkedIn, or not engaging with other users’ posts.
Sharing content, whether it be pictures, information, updates, links, or videos will increase the chances of your profile being seen, as anything you share will show up on people’s newsfeeds.
When you’re new to LinkedIn, we recommend that you start by posting once or twice a week, as well as sharing other users’ content to your page when relevant.
If you agree with something somebody has posted, then comment saying that! Many people will support other users’ by commenting with encouraging phrases such as ‘great post!’.
To encourage users to respond to any content you post, why not end the post with ‘What do you think?’ or with a follow-up question that can easily be answered? When other users comment on your post, their whole LinkedIn network will be able to see the post, which is key to driving engagement.
Another common mistake that new LinkedIn users make is by posting long paragraphs of content. Not everybody wants to sit and read a huge chunk of text – add an image, a video, a link, or a poll.
If online networking isn’t for you, you could always try in-person networking. Why not check out our Move Netwalking events?
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Mark is a multi-award winner in business networking and relationship building. He is passionate about coaching and mentoring business owners and professionals through 1-1 & group coaching, team performance workshops and group mastermind sessions.