LinkedIn can be an effective way to grow your career and your network, but you have to know the right way to do it. We’ll show you how to network on LinkedIn.
Entrepreneur Larry Kim once wrote, “What are the 11 most boring words in the English language? ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’” Yet, LinkedIn undeniably is an essential networking tool that can connect you with millions of other professionals around the world. However, you can’t be a passive user if you want to grow your network effectively. Taking the time to learn how to make it work for you will help you make professional connections, learn more about your industry, and even become a thought leader in your field. But you have to know how to do it the right way.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to effectively network on LinkedIn, including:
Why is LinkedIn a good networking tool?
5 Ways to use LinkedIn for networking
Dos and don’ts for networking on LinkedIn
3 examples of what to say when trying to network on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a good tool to use when networking because it focuses on one thing: professional development. While other social media sites can be useful, LinkedIn, with one billion users in 200 countries, is dedicated to providing a place for professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds to make connections and build their careers. It also allows you to create an online “brand” to highlight your skills and experience for potential employers and business partners.
There are several ways you can use LinkedIn for networking:
Showcase your business or professional brand
Find your next job or client
Follow leaders in your industry and gain knowledge
Create content that gets the attention of other professionals
Gain new industry connections for your network
Join groups to meet other like-minded professionals
How you use LinkedIn for networking depends on your goals, whether you’re there to job-hunt, grow your network, or keep up with the latest industry news. More specifically, however, there are five ways you can effectively use LinkedIn to get the most out of the site.
Your profile is the first thing that people will see, so make sure it stands out in a good way. You’ll want to make sure your profile includes the following:
A professional, up-to-date photo
A headline that tells people who you are and what you do
A concise professional summary that utilizes keywords to optimize search results
An experience section. Don’t just cut and paste your career history. Use some bullet points to highlight your salient career accomplishments.
Some recommendations and endorsements to give your profile some credibility
Grow your network with people in your field who you envision working with in the future or who could offer you advice about your career. Don’t just request connections randomly. Use a targeted approach and make sure the recipients know how your relationship can be mutually beneficial.
Part of networking in general, whether it's online or in person, is to actually interact with your contacts. You can do this by commenting, liking, and sharing their posts, and checking in with them from time to time. You can also send them a message to congratulate them on a success or thank them for introducing you to another contact. Think of your LinkedIn contacts like a garden: if you don't tend to them, your relationships will wither.
LinkedIn networking is more effective when you’re an active contributor. When you post content, you’re demonstrating that you’re an expert in your field. You can do this by writing articles that present you as a “thought leader,” allow you to share your expertise, and generate more productive conversations and user interactions. Don’t forget photos, graphics, polls, or videos to drive engagement.
LinkedIn groups are another great place to grow your network. Joining multiple groups will connect you with hundreds or even thousands of people in your field. But you can’t just be a “lurker.” Take part in group discussions, communicate informative content, and answer questions. Remember, you’re part of a group, not performing a one-person show. You should focus on providing value to the others in the community.
When networking on LinkedIn, you need to rely on your communication skills to grow your network, so make sure when you’re messaging someone that you introduce yourself, let them know why you’re reaching out, ask them about their work or goals, or offer support. Beyond that, what you say in each individual message depends on why you’re reaching out.
If there's a potential contact whose career path is one you admire or you'd like to work with someday, your message can sound something like this:
Hello [recipient’s name],
My name is [your name]. I’m a [job title] at [company name]. I’ve been an admirer of your work and am inspired by your [positive attribute or achievement]. If you have some time, I'd really like to ask you some questions about how you've progressed in your career.
Yours truly, [your name]
In this case, you'll have to write more than "I'm a big fan of your work." Whether you're looking for a mentor, garner industry information, or set the stage for potential future collaboration, you need to get your “foot in the door.”
Dear [recipient’s name],
My name is [your name]. I’m a [job title] at [company name]. I attended your workshop last week at the [name of event] and was impressed by your methodology for developing expertise as a [position]. Do you have any other upcoming workshops? I read in [name of publication or website] that you'll be speaking at [event] in April. It would be great if we could run into each other and meet in person.
Sincerely, [your name]
If you’ve met people at in-person events or in a social setting, you can have a slightly more informal pitch when contacting them on LinkedIn.
Hi [recipient’s name],
It was great meeting you at [event name]. How funny that we both know [person’s name]! I always appreciate meeting smart, professional, smart people in [name of industry]. Are you going to the [name of next event]? It would be great to see you and catch up.
Take care, [your name]
Ready to take the next step in your career? Check out Career.io’s Career Pathways tool, which will help you explore career interests, identify skill gaps, and learn about job demand and competitive salary information, all in one place.
LinkedIn provides a place for professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds to make connections and build their careers.
LinkedIn can be used to find a new job, grow your network, or keep up with the latest industry news.
When you’re reaching out on LinkedIn make sure that you introduce yourself and state why you’re reaching out. Beyond that, what you say in each individual message depends on why you’re reaching out.
Jennifer Inglis is a freelance writer and content creator with extensive professional expertise in advertising, media analysis, teaching, writing, and literature. Prior to working for Career.io, Jennifer was a public school teacher, teaching courses in college and career readiness, writing, and public speaking. Jennifer has a master’s degree in Teaching, and is the author of two published novels.