If you could focus on one aspect of your professional life in the new year, I would say, build your professional network. And I have some smart LinkedIn tips to help you do just that.
Less than twenty years ago, the word “network” was more a verb than a noun. It meant to actively seek out connections within your areas of interest. And while technology has changed the means and methods, people are still people, and connections matter.
Not long ago, I had a Rolodex of business cards. Today, LinkedIn is that Rolodex. It is a place to collect and connect with who you know, in what capacity (or degrees), and how (through work, conferences, or other people).
My LinkedIn contacts are the people who know me and who can recommend or refer me to others. The value of this network is incalculable. In fact, the network I began to build in my early twenties has led to my last four jobs. Every step sideways or up, any role that seems interesting, I know someone who knows someone and I have a direct line into that position and that organization.
So don’t think of LinkedIn as one more social media channel, or turn away because of its reputation as e-mail spammer (you can always manage your settings). Use these LinkedIn tips to network like a pro, especially if you are searching for your next opportunity.
As promised, a few LinkedIn tips to help you get started.:
Smile for the Camera:
Have a professional looking photo, but think beyond the traditional headshot. A simple photo of your smiling face will suffice. Be sure you’re the only one in the picture, and skip the filters, poses or selfies that work on other social channels. An in-focus, well-lit close-up is your best bet.
Brag a Little
Add the places you’ve worked and where you currently work, your roles, and 1-3 bullets about what you accomplished in that role. Don’t be modest. This is your chance to play up your strengths and highlight your skills and achievements. Be your own best advocate.
Get Creative With Keywords
This is one of my favorite LinkedIn tips. LinkedIn’s algorithm searches key words in profiles and serves you up to people you might want to connect with and those who want to connect with you. Key words become especially important if you’re actively seeking your next opportunity (or your first). Recruiters use LinkedIn and if the key words in your profile match the key words in their job description, your profile will rise to the surface. For example, are you an expert in Adobe InDesign? Add it. Do you have experience in education? Add it.
Use your key words again and again to strengthen your profile. Not sure what key words to add? Find job descriptions of roles you’re interested in and look for key words within them. Add them to your profile as often as you can while still sounding natural. You’ll start seeing the “people are looking at your profile” numbers increase.
Become a Groupie
Want to connect with people who aren’t contacts? Join a relevant group. Groups used to be a place to spam or get spammed but a recent change in the model is making Groups the place to see and be seen. They’re harder to find and get into now (a good thing for engagement), so you may need to ask around your current network for ideas on ones to join.
Baby steps or big steps, leverage your network. Start now and keep working on it. Eventually, LinkedIn will be as dated as the Rolodex but your network will not.
How about you? Got any LinkedIn tips of your own? How are you building or leveraging your network?
By Namrata Patel
Namrata is fascinated by how we live through the lens of culture and technology. She grew up in an traditional Gujarati house in a northern New Jersey suburb and since then has lived in large cities (Boston, New York, London) and small towns (Spokane, Glamssboro, Lake Placid). She loves blogging about technology, social media, dual-culturalism, travel, food, and living life as a journey vs. a path.