When it comes to professional networking, LinkedIn continues to be the go-to platform for companies and individuals around the world. With accounts for over 875 million members, 57 million businesses, and 120,000 schools, the site has grown exponentially since its creation in 2003.1,2 Its slogan, “Connect to Opportunity,” accurately conveys its purpose; users look to the platform to help with their job search, connect with colleagues, and stay up-to-date on business and industry news to improve their career.
After being acquired by Microsoft in 2016, LinkedIn’s capabilities and influence have only grown. Valued at over $10 billion, LinkedIn is one social media platform that has withstood the test of time and continues to provide value to users, advertisers, and potential connections.3 As a business professional, there are dozens of ways you can use the social media site’s vast network to expand your own.
Read our tips below on how to network on LinkedIn and leverage its power to your advantage, grow your connections, and cultivate a strong professional network with significant benefits.
The Value of a Strong LinkedIn Network
Much of LinkedIn’s appeal comes from its universal availability and wide array of tools. No matter your location, you can build connections, meet other professionals, and benefit from thought leadership from anywhere in the world. It’s free to create and maintain a regular account, or you can choose to upgrade to Premium for additional features that will enhance your—and your connections’—experience, such as seeing who views your profile and
From reading industry articles to posting job opportunities at your company, the site is regarded by many as the place for business professionals. Recruiters will ask for your LinkedIn URL and employees will look to their company’s LinkedIn page for major updates and information.
7 Steps to Effective Networking on LinkedIn
1. Complete your LinkedIn profile
Before you start expanding your network or cultivating your existing connections on a deeper level, you’ll want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is completely filled out. Aside from the fact that it will show others that you’re not a robot, your profile helps people get a better understanding of who you are on all fronts. In a few minutes, they can see who you are, what type of work you do/things you’re interested in, and whether or not you’re a worthwhile, positive connection. Plus, members with complete profiles are 40x more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn than those without one.4
Much like a profile on other social media sites (and on dating apps, which sometimes professional networking can feel like!), you want to give an overview of yourself without providing too much personal detail. Make sure your profile picture is clear, uncluttered, and flattering—a professional headshot is best. Use your LinkedIn summary, headline, and the About, Experience, Skills, Interests, and Organizations sections to flesh out different aspects of your career and recreational interests with high-level information. Don't forget to include relevant skills, educational experience, and charity work. Think of it like the bullet points on your resume, but with just a little bit more added detail.
2. Send personalized notes, not mass messages
If you’ve ever received LinkedIn connection requests from a stranger, then you understand the thought process that it can evoke: “Who is this person? Why do they want to connect with me? How did they find me?”. These are exactly the type of responses you want to avoid when you send a request to someone you’d like to build a relationship with. To avoid a negative or confused reaction, give a reason for why you want to connect: you have contacts in common, you went to the same school, you think their posts are interesting and would like to see more. Whatever the case, sending a note will show that you’re a real human being, not a bot or solicitor, and make the recipient more inclined to accept your request.
3. Connect with people you know, knew, or have a specific reason for getting to know
Similar to the above, you should be intentional about whom you connect with and why. Sending requests to anyone and everyone will clutter your LinkedIn network with invaluable leads. It will take more time for you to sift through hundreds of names to find what you’re looking for than it would to think about and/or review every connection request. Meaningful connections will yield far more than an endless list of people whom you don't know.
Conversely, people are wary of connecting with just anyone, especially on a platform designed to focus on your career and build relationships. Putting your name in this negative light could spread among peers and affect your online (and personal) brand. That’s not to say that you only should connect with people you know; but providing a reason for your desire to learn more about them will put people at ease and justify the connection request.
4. Post regularly, but not too much
If you’re currently active on LinkedIn, you’re likely familiar with those who have become a form of LinkedIn influencer. Although some of these accounts and posts are certainly inspirational, they can morph into a kind of “toxic positivity” that lends itself to mockery. According to Vice, posts like these “came to be known (and ridiculed) just as much for the way they were written (punchy, pseudo-inspirational one-sentence paragraphs) as the topics they covered (‘Is Failure The New Success?’), so much so that BuzzFeed mockingly deemed them ‘broetry’ in 2017. ‘Have you seen those new posts flooding LinkedIn?’ the reporters Ryan Mac and Alex Kantrowitz wrote. ‘One sentence. One paragraph. A dull personal anecdote. A clichéd life lesson.’”5
You don’t want people to become overwhelmed with your image and voice. Unless you're actively working to become an Instagram influencer, then your presence, cadence, and messages on the platform will be very different than what’s described above. Focus on quality, not quantity. Posting once or twice a week is more than sufficient for those who aren’t earning wages on posts or for engagement.
One way to make sure you don’t cross into this territory is to not just share relevant content, but to share your unique perspective on it. What stood out to you about this article? What in your personal or professional life has shaped your opinion on the subject? Remember, reposting others gives the original author more audience and impact than it does for you. Feel free to re-share whatever content you’d like, but give it context or color with your own commentary.
5. Ask for input from your network
Unlike other social media, LinkedIn is (usually) a positive environment with lots of willing and able helpers. You can solicit advice or feedback on a current project, share accomplishments, or ask your network for recommendations for hiring. Something as simple as “Anybody know a great freelance graphic designer in the Chicago area?” can generate dozens more leads from a group member than general LinkedIn searches.
This is especially useful when you’re searching for a new job. If you’re on the market, take these four steps to improve your chances of being found by potential employers:
1. Change your status to “open to opportunities”
Make sure to define your search criteria and note that you would not like your current employer to see that you’re looking (if that’s the case).
2. Select the “Open to Work’ frame to put around your profile photo
Hiring managers and connections will then know with just a glance at your profile picture that you’re searching for new opportunities.
3. Sign up for job alerts using the Jobs tab
Receive daily, weekly, or monthly alerts on positions that fit your preferences. 5. Join a LinkedIn group for hiring in your field and/or area
4. Join a LinkedIn group for hiring in your field and/or area
‘Tech Opportunities in SF’ or similar LinkedIn groups will be full of hiring teams or people who are in the same industry, role, or level as you and can share job searching tips.
6. Join LinkedIn Groups
Whether it’s people in your same industry (ex. FinTech), others at your company (ex. Microsoft engineers), or other interests (ex. TED talk enthusiasts), LinkedIn groups offer a great place for professionals to virtually “meet up” and exchange ideas. Sometimes, people will post to garner feedback on a project or seek advice on how to handle a professional situation from those who clearly share their interests or goals. These forums are great for easy, open communication and building trust with members before moving into more personal, one-on-one convos.
7. Follow up from online
While it can be helpful to make and maintain online professional connections, you should strengthen your network on Linked further by following up in other ways. If you and the other party agree to it, use other forms of communication between you. Email, text, or phone calls will help the other person get to know you in a different way and be able to chat with you without always entering the LinkedIn platform. A good example of this is when an old colleague reaches out to you over Chat. After exchanging a few messages to catch up, suggest that you get each other’s emails and continue the conversation from there.
Once you feel you’ve gotten to know each other well enough, and if the situation warrants it, organize a coffee meet-up or exchange numbers to facilitate a phone call. You’ll find that you can cover much more ground and build a stronger rapport when you have the in-person body language, tone, and warmth to enhance your conversations.
Grow Your Professional Network Even Further
While learning how to network on LinkedIn effectively can produce strong results, it all has to start with the personal and professional network that you create in person throughout your career. For those who want to expand their business expertise and build connections at the same time, an Online MBA is the ideal path forward.
From day one, you'll meet like-minded peers, faculty, and alumni to learn from, share ideas with, and explore new opportunities without having to travel to the city the program is based in. The Online MBA from Yeshiva University, for example, is available to anyone anywhere in the country but still connects you to the New York business community through your cohort, faculty, capstone projects with local companies, and more.
Contact an Admissions Advisor to start the conversation and see where an online MBA can take you.
- Retrieved on November 30, 2022, from https://about.linkedin.com/#:~:text=LinkedIn%20began%20in%20co%2Dfounder,the%20leadership%20of%20Ryan%20RoslanskyRetrieved on November 30, 2022, from https://www.businessofapps.com/data/linkedin-statistics/
- Retrieved on November 30, 2022, from https://earthweb.com/how-much-is-linkedin-worth/
- Retrieved on November 30, 2022, from https://content.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/linkedinforgood/en-us/resources/youth/HANDOUT---How-to-Network-for-Students.pdf
- Retrieved on November 30, 2022, from https://www.vice.com/en/article/4ax5wp/the-rise-of-the-millionaire-linkedin-influencer