Are you great at face-to-face interactions but at a loss when it comes to networking on social media?
Or maybe you are introverted in both scenarios but are continually fed career advice about needing to make yourself more visible on LinkedIn?
Networking—via LinkedIn or in person—is, for many, an elusive concept they are not sure how to tackle. It is a to-do item that never quite gets checked.
Rather than thinking about it as an intangible job-seeker’s task, let’s get back to basics. Here is the definition of networking:
“The informal sharing of information and services among individuals or groups that have a common interest”.
Networking—at its core—is about finding opportunities to share knowledge and expertise, making introductions that might facilitate partnerships, or otherwise helping those we meet and know to achieve their goals (the side effect is that we often have others help us achieve ours).
Networking on LinkedIn is no different, except that your access to people with whom you share common interests and with whom to informally share information is literally at your fingertips.
So ask yourself:
– How can I leverage LinkedIn to share information or help others achieve their goals?
– How can I expand my reach to more people who my share interests or help others to do the same?
Below are tips for creating a profile that is conducive networking and then getting to it.
1. Be visible and easy to contact.
If your profile is off limits to people it won’t be easy for you to have conversations with those who would like to reach out. Your first step is to ensure that your public profile is visible to everyonend includes your contact information. You also want to ensure that your communication settings are adjusted so that everyone on LinkedIn can send you an invitation to connect.
2. Encourage connection.
Your profile should make readers want to reach out to you to overcome a digital barrier that is not there at an in-person networkig event. An about section drafted in the first-person gives readers a sense of your voice and the person behind the roles and achievements.
Choose a photograph for your profile that transmits likeability by choosing a headshot where you are facing the camera with a friendly expression. If you are unsure if you look likeable, run your photograph through an app like photofeeler and you’ll get a quick sense of how others see you.
3. Be Easy to Find.
Consider SEO (search engine optimization) when drafting your profile to increase the odds of being found by those searching for people like you. Ensure that your profile contains critical keywords and have a complete profile (meaning that you have fully developed all of its core sections)
4. Create content.
What better way to share your expertise (and position yourself as an expert in your field) than by providing meaningful content to your entire network? LinkedIn allows you this possibility through its publishing platform and through short-form posts. If your content is of interest to your connections, they will share your posts, helping you to expand your visibility.
If you find that no one is interested, you may not have the right audience. Make sure you are connected with people who will be interested in the content you post to encourage engagement. If you aren’t, start asking for introductions from your current network.
Take time to acknowledge what others share and contribute by reading and leaving comments on their posts, preferably on topics that will relay your expertise. People always appreciate when their content is liked and shared. Engaging with authors in their comments sectionis another way to gain visibility and share information—not only with the authors but with their audiences, creating more possibilities to expand your network and visibility.
5. Merge online and offline networks.
You can only go so far in building a relationship through likes and comments. Reach out to people you’ve only interacted with online and see if they would be open to scheduling a Zoom call session to discuss a shared interest.
Conversely, be sure to nourish your offline networks with online interaction. Former colleagues can represent a gold mind of opportunity if you keep those relationships active. We don’t always have time for zoom calls and in-person meet ups, but we can stay top of mind through online interaction.
6. Make your goals known.
If you are on the hunt for new job opportunities and are relying on networking as a means to discover them, your current network need to know your aims.
While it may not make sense to broadcast this with an “Open to Opportunities” post, you will want to make sure that targeted individuals are aware of your narrowed down goals.
Take the time to send personalized messages to some key people in your network to update them on your transition and request introductions to others that may get you closer to your goals or simply those who share your interests. But don’t make it all about you. Ask about their current challenges and needs and help them with introductions if you can.
The next time you hear the sage advice that networking is key to landing your next position, don’t forget what the true spirit of networking is—to share what you have with others, and of course, to expand your reach so that you may share with more people.
With that in mind—and backed by a solid LinkedIn profile that encourages people to reach out—you will make the elusive concept of networking more tangible.