Social media tips to maximise your professional network
LinkedIn is becoming a vital part of everyday business life, with job seekers, employers, clients and associates alike using the social media platform to make business connections, receive industry-specific information and to promote themselves or their business. It also enables head-hunters or recruiters to judge an individual’s credibility, skills and business networks.
Setting up foundations
Keeping your skills up-to date and recording past work experience is a must. Although you may have had your profile for a year, it is important to mention relevant jobs you have had, as well as qualifications and skills you may have obtained many years ago in order to build your professional profile and credibility. Transferring information from your CV is a simple way to update your profile to make sure relevant information is included.
There’s nothing like third party endorsement to confirm your credibility and LinkedIn provides an easy avenue to endorse colleagues and likewise receive your own endorsements. When setting up a LinkedIn profile, people are required to enter career skills they believe they possess. These skills are self-monitored, so it is extremely easy for individuals to exaggerate skills and experiences. With this in mind, potential employers are more likely to look at your other endorsements as opposed to just taking your word for it. It’s a quick online reference check if you like.
LinkedIn recommendations are also just as important. Recommendations give your connections an opportunity to comment on your skills, personality, work ethic and once again reinforce that you do possess the skills, qualifications and qualities outlined in your profile.
Recommendations can be hard to receive, but by leaving recommendations for others, your chances are much higher. Although it may feel uncomfortable to ask for an endorsement or recommendation, it is fast becoming a norm and there is no shame in doing this.
Other tips for LinkedIn success
- If you meet someone new, look them up on LinkedIn straight away and invite them to connect with a personalised message.
- Make sure you include a professional, up-to-date photograph on your profile.
- When finishing a project or piece of work, don’t be afraid to ask for endorsements or recommendations from colleagues.
- If you do ask for endorsements and recommendations, use a personalised message, as opposed to the standard message supplied.
- Where you can, reciprocate and leave feedback and endorsements in return.
One of the main issues with LinkedIn is that it’s easy to misuse. According to the Unofficial LinkedIn user’s guide for executives and professionals, there are four models of LinkedIn investment, which can help you increase your network and build your professional profile:
1. Professional presence
Professional presence is exactly as it sounds. You have a presence on LinkedIn, and this can be developed by spending minimal time (1–2 hours per month) inviting people to connect with you and updating your information.
2. Network management
Network management involves spending time connecting with people you already know from previous jobs, events, schools or professional groups. You can import contacts directly from your address book, meaning you can easily build connections, write recommendations and communicate with other users.
3. Network building
If you are aiming to build secure, ongoing relationships through LinkedIn, you might dedicate a few hours per week searching for contacts in new areas related to your field. You could also focus on building relationships with those you already know by requesting recommendations and endorsements.
4. Network living
Those who fit into the network living category are rare and find themselves spending up to 20 hours per week on their profile, focusing on all aspects of LinkedIn. For these individuals their LinkedIn network is vital as it is a primary driver of revenue. Most of this time is spent making relative industry connections and researching industry leaders and their movements.
Once you have identified which of the four categories you fit into and how much time you are willing to dedicate to the platform, you can then start to build your professional online profile.
In order for this to be effective, focus on sharing news, providing recommendations, participating in industry discussions and following industry groups.
As your online presence grows, and as time permits, you can start to use LinkedIn in different ways such as posting job ads, finding recruits and raising or answering questions in industry discussions.
Using LinkedIn to maximise your professional network
Here are some additional tips to help you identify ways to get the most out of your LinkedIn efforts:
- Review your strategic objectives (for example, finding a new role, connecting with colleagues, building your network) and think about how LinkedIn can help you achieve these.
- Define exactly what it is you would like to get out of LinkedIn and determine how much time you are willing to invest.
- Review your profile regularly to keep it up-to-date and informative.
- Make sure you have a professional profile picture that doesn’t resemble a ‘selfie,’ a mug shot or a weekend happy snap.
- Be selective with who you connect with, as your connections reflect on you. Don’t be afraid to decline a request to connect if you believe it is inappropriate.
- If possible, assist your connections to broaden their networks, and work to broaden yours as well.
- LinkedIn is a two-way street — be sure to endorse your connections and make recommendations where appropriate as well as asking people you have worked with to do the same for you.
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