It’s no secret that building a strong network can be critical to your career success. And in the internet era, it’s easier than ever to build and maintain a strong professional network using LinkedIn. With 675 million monthly users, 40% of whom use LinkedIn on a daily basis, LinkedIn is by far the best place to conveniently and easily build a professional network, especially in the current environment of Covid-19 where non-essential face to face meetings are strongly discouraged.
As a result, knowing how to use LinkedIn to network is one of the key skills that can lead you to success within your career, and can be an incredibly helpful tool when searching for a new job. The following article focuses on how to find and connect with the relevant people in your industry, the right way to build meaningful relationships on LinkedIn and how to maintain them as your network grows. Whether you’ve just created your profile or you’re an experienced LinkedIn user, I like to think there are some tips here for everyone!
1) Optimise your profile
The first step you need to take before going out to find new connections is to optimise your profile. Speaking from personal experience, when I receive a connection request, the first thing I’ll do is check the person’s profile to see whether they are relevant to my personal network. Details such as your headline and photo are particularly important as they will be the first thing that the person sees when you send a connection request!
In order to make sure you’re all set in terms of profile optimisations, I’d recommend reading over my previous article, How To: Create a LinkedIn Profile here
2) Finding the right people to connect with
You don’t want to connect with just anyone – you want your connections to be relevant to your space, ensuring you are finding the best people to support you in your professional development. When building your network, you can approach a number of different types of people. These can include:
• Agency recruiters
• Internal recruiters
• Current and previous colleagues
• Current and potential suppliers and customers/clients
• Peers in similar businesses
• People who work in businesses you’d like to work for
• Content creators and authorities in your industry
• University Alumni
In order to find the right people to connect to, decide which of the above you’d specifically like to search for. For this example, I’ll look for Agency Recruiters in my field. You should use LinkedIn and Google to search for companies specialising in your specific industry – in this example, I’d look for Supply Chain Recruitment Agencies. You can then look up these companies on LinkedIn and go to the “People” section on their page to find their individual consultants!
If you’re looking to find the people who can help you get a job at the company, it’s best to search for “Recruiters”, “Talent” or “HR”. A great tip is to use a Boolean search to search for multiple search terms at once – in this case, you would search for ‘Recruiters AND Talent AND HR’ to find all three at once rather than running three separate searches!
It’s also worth following the businesses you’re interested in, as you’ll then not only see all of their content and business updates but be the first to see when they post a new job! I’d especially recommend following Recruitment Agencies in your field as we generally aim to post industry content from our networks, and can be a great central source of industry news!
3) Sending a connection request
Sending a connection request is very simple but is often overlooked! Not only does it help to explain why you’re looking to connect, but it shows a level of effort and personalisation that a simple connect request does not.
When writing a note with your connection request, you are limited to 300 characters, therefore your note has to be concise and to the point. Generally, you want to explain who you are, and why you are looking to connect. An example of a good note might be:
Hey Example Name, I hope you’re well. My name is Sam and I’m a Logistics Recruiter here at Pod Talent. I’m keen to expand my network and would love to connect and see if we can work together in the future!
4) Maintaining your network
Once you’ve started connecting with people, it can be tough to stay in touch with and keep up with everyone in your network! If you have hundreds, or even thousands of relevant connections, it’s tough to message everyone on a regular basis to stay in touch.
The best way to maintain your network is therefore through posting and engaging with relevant content on your LinkedIn home page. Reshare news from your industry, post about insights you’ve gained from your role, share your achievements; I could write a whole article about content and relevant industry posts! The key is to post things you are genuinely interested in and want to start a conversation about.
You also should engage with content that you are interested in which other people in your network have posted. Like the posts you are interested in, comment on posts you have insights into and reshare posts that you think your network would benefit from. When you then feel the need to get in touch with someone in the future, they’ll know you and will recognise you as a valued member of their network.
5) Using LinkedIn when you’re actively looking for a new role
As well as being helpful for networking and industry news, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for finding a new role. There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to finding roles through LinkedIn, but to summarise the key things:
• Change your profile to show you’re open to new opportunities, and use the Open To Work banner on your photo
• Set up job alerts on LinkedIn roles for jobs you may be interested in, and check LinkedIn Jobs regularly
• Contact agency recruiters in your field! As well as being able to help find a role, agency recruiters can provide great insights into the job market, salary expectations and potential career paths
• If you’re immediately available, and/or are open to relocation, mention this in your profile as it can widen the possible jobs recruiters can bear you in mind for. Ensure that you have a location on your profile rather than just “United Kingdom” as you won’t show up when we search via LinkedIn Recruiter without a location!
Building a network on LinkedIn definitely takes time, but can be a great way to further your own professional development, meet new relevant industry contacts and find a new role in the future. With LinkedIn being such a huge platform, it’s a critical skill to develop, and hopefully this article has provided some initial insights that can help you to build out a strong, useful LinkedIn network!