Professional Connections Through LinkedIn
Social media has changed the way that we share information, but it has also changed the way we make professional connections, and learn about important trends and changes in our industry. For professionals, there is no better way to connect, learn and engage clients and potential customers than LinkedIn.
According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn users are educated (bachelor’s degree holders and up), and high earners ( $75,000 a year or more). Pew’s research also showed that LinkedIn is the only social networking site that showed higher usage among 50-64 year olds than 18-29 year olds.
Using LinkedIn for Business
A LinkedIn profile gives you an online resume and allows other professionals to know what you are doing and how to get in touch with you. LinkedIn is a great way to network, connect and engage with current and former colleagues, industry thought leaders and even companies.
Use the networking capabilities of LinkedIn strategically. Connect with people you know and have positive relationships with or those with who you think would be good industry connections. Don’t be afraid to connect with requests you receive—use it to your advantage. Reach out to colleagues (past and present), partners, clients, professional association members and networking acquaintances.
Because LinkedIn is a database that uses a proprietary algorithm, it is important for you to have a complete profile. LinkedIn searches are based on relevance, and your profile will rank higher if it is complete. Having more connections is also beneficial, since the LinkedIn database is more likely to suggest second degree connections more readily when you have multiple connections.
As you build your network, you can also think about requesting and providing professional recommendations, which serve as validation of your work and experience. Think about former managers and supervisors who would be willing to pen a few words about your abilities, and pay it forward by doing the same for others in your network.
To really make the site work for you, you need to stay active. Unlike Facebook, you don’t need to post what you ate for breakfast or your cat’s amusing antics, but you can share interesting industry sites, articles and other news that would be of interest to your connections. The goal is to become a resource that will make others want to connect and stay in touch with you. LinkedIn also allows you to join up to 50 groups. Consider joining as many as you can in order to maximize your exposure and expand your network.
For a new user, the applications of LinkedIn can seem a bit overwhelming. One great way to manage the large amounts of data and resources your connections are sharing is to use LinkedIn Today, which you can find under the news tab. LinkedIn Today allows you to keep tabs on what other professionals are reading and sharing and also allows you to save articles of interest to read later.