How to Benefit From Your LinkedIn Network
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As a society, we use social media for several different reasons, but when you think of networking, there is one specific social media platform that comes to mind — LinkedIn. By its own definition, LinkedIn is a social networking site that allows you to manage your professional identity, build and engage with your professional network, and access knowledge, insights, and opportunities.
To some LinkedIn is just a glorified job board, but to many others, it is where some of their strongest business connections have been formed. Whether you’re looking to connect with someone to find a new career or you’re seeking to make connections to build potential clients, LinkedIn is the place for you. So, what can you do to benefit from your LinkedIn network?
The first thing you’re going to need to do is set up your personal profile page. This page allows you to add as many personal and professional details as you want. At a minimum, you will want to add your most recent employment and any degrees or certifications you’ve received. This will help others in similar fields or backgrounds to connect with you. Once you’ve got your profile set up, then it’s time to start connecting.
LinkedIn has a search tool that allows you to narrow down the field of people you can connect with. Are you looking for connections in the pharmaceutical field? Perhaps you’re looking to connect with people with former military backgrounds? There are search features available that let you find connections with specific jobs, companies, or even schools listed in their profiles.
As you narrow down these new connections, you’ll want to make sure you are including a personalized message. A new connection is more likely to accept your request when you introduce yourself and share why you’re reaching out to connect. This invitation also allows you to start a conversation. You can use this opportunity to start building a relationship. Do not use a personalized invitation to pitch your business. The opportunity for that might come along further down the road, but right now you’re going to want to just focus on developing relationships with your new connections.
Once your potential connections start to accept your invitations, you will begin seeing their content appearing on your home screen. Use this as an opportunity to engage with them. Like or comment on their posts, but make sure it is a meaningful comment and not just a simple “I agree.” As you engage with these posts, you will show your connections that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say and you can add value to the conversation.
LinkedIn also allows you to search for hashtags that you can engage with. If you are interested in marketing, you can search for #marketing, #digitalmarketing, #socialmediamarketing, and so much more. This will allow you to see and engage with content from people outside your network. Having meaningful engagement with these posts provides you with the opportunity to expand your network even more.
Once you’ve made some meaningful connections and you’ve started building those relationships, how can you use that to benefit you or your business? Well, that all depends on what you’re hoping to achieve.
Are you looking for a job or a job reference? Then once you’ve built relationships with some people inside the network you’re hoping to find a career in, make it known that you are looking for a job. You can update your headline to state “seeking a career in _______,” you can share your resume in a post, or you can reach out to your network directly to ask if they have any leads for a potential job. You’ll want to be sure you have a good relationship with someone before you reach out to them to ask for a reference, though. A total stranger probably isn’t going to put their name behind someone they don’t know.
If you’re using your LinkedIn network to get new clients, you’ll want to ensure your connections know what it is you do and who your target audience is. You’ll also want to ensure they know your relationship is mutually beneficial. If they can provide you with new clients, you will need to be able to provide them with something in return in the future. As you’re developing your relationship with your connections, you should go into it knowing that it isn’t a one-way street, and you need to be able to return the favor if and when they can help you.
LinkedIn can be a very powerful networking tool, but you have to make sure you know how to use it properly. Your network can include hundreds of people, but if you aren’t working daily to grow these relationships, then you’ll never be able to capitalize off of those connections. It’s important to remember that relationships are a two-way street. If you don’t put the effort in, you won’t be able to get anything out of it. You can hope to reap the benefits from your LinkedIn network if you are only willing to put in the work and build relationships.