March 16, 2021
How to Network on LinkedIn, Develop Your Networking Strategy with Tips from a Career Counselor
Written by Sara Lane
How can you use LinkedIn to network and benefit your career?
Recently, our career counselor, Andrew Tessmer, held a webinar about how you can maximize your LinkedIn profile.
In the video below, you’ll see that Tessmer goes through LinkedIn section-by-section, giving viewers a complete view on crafting effective bullet points in your experience section, the value of networking, and understanding the best practices for searching and applying for positions through LinkedIn.
This post focuses on how you can use LinkedIn to network, create helpful and lasting connections, and make use of the messaging function to the best of your abilities and for the benefit of your career.
Table of Contents
- What is Career Counseling?
- What is LinkedIn?
- Primary Functions: Building Your LinkedIn Profile
- Primary Functions: How to Use It
- What is Networking and How Do You Do It?
- Skills and Endorsements on LinkedIn
- How to Give and Receive Recommendations
- How to Make Lasting Connections on LinkedIn
- Messaging on LinkedIn
- A Couple of Things
- If You Need Help…
What is Career Counseling?
Career counseling is a counseling process specifically focused on discovering your passion, building career management skills, improving your ability to market, and promoting yourself as a professional.
You are more than a resume could easily cover, but in this fast-paced world, you must be able to present yourself in a way that utilizes every facet of your experience and character.
You likely care a great deal about your career path and how successful you are in it. Perhaps you don’t care? That is something we look at, too.
It is the goal of career counseling to help you achieve the highest level of satisfaction from your professional life. We will assist you in aligning your career goals and dreams.
This service means having an objective partner to help you recognize personal difficulties that translate into your professional life. We support you as you move past deterrents such as a fear of failure, lack of confidence, and procrastination.
Learn more about Career Counseling HERE.
What is LinkedIn?
Some call it the “Facebook for professionals,” and we are inclined to agree. LinkedIn is a professional social media platform designed to cultivate relationships and community in a digital setting.
It is widely used for networking, job searching, maintaining professional relationships, and discovering new skills that can help you succeed in your career.
Primary Functions: Building Your LinkedIn Profile
When you are building your LinkedIn profile, there are pillars that you need to be sure will stand under the eyes of those who may see it. Your profile should highlight all your experience, skills, and education relevant to the positions you are currently trying to pursue.
As you build your profile, we recommend you add a professional headshot that clearly shows you. Be sure not to use an image that has needed editing to be acceptable.
We don’t recommend using a photo you had to crop someone out of or one where you dressed for an event unrelated to your industry.
Your professional summary is the first section other LinkedIn users will see once they have clicked on your profile. It’s similar to a resume summary and should be treated as such.
Your summary should be composed of five to six sentences about you, what you are looking for, and why you are using LinkedIn.
Your “about me” section is precisely that, about you. Keep it to the point. It’s a good place to note the amount of general professional experience you have and then expand on that.
Relevance Rules and Bullet Points
Relevance is a term you’ll need to keep in mind as you build your profile. Whatever you are trying to achieve using LinkedIn is what you will center your whole profile around.
If you are looking to network with people in medicinal administration, you needn’t post about the art history club you joined last year.
Along with relevance, a good way to format your profile is with bullet points. They are bold, short, and to the point. Also, they will counter the use of paragraphs in your professional summary.
For more on the best ways to build a compelling LinkedIn profile, check out our previous post HERE.
Primary Functions: How to Use Your LinkedIn Profile
If you have ever used the internet for almost any of its functions, you probably understand its reach. Some of the uses of LinkedIn include:
- Networking on a platform designed for the professional world.
- Peer learning through networking.
- Groups you can join and use to connect with others in your profession.
- Sharing relevant articles, training opportunities, and even available positions, which makes your feed an incredible resource in itself.
- Strengthening and maintaining professional relationships, especially with old colleagues you want to keep in contact with.
But for all its good, there are a few quirks to remember. As you post, like, and comment on other user’s profiles and content, be thoughtful.
No matter how similar it is to Facebook, it’s still a professional setting. For that reason, we do not recommend that you interact with anything content that is religious or political.
Additionally, any changes you make to your experience, education, and accomplishment section will alert those you are connected with of that change.
Consequently, as you build your LinkedIn profile, having your privacy setting set to “private” will allow you to make those changes without notifying all of your connections every time.
On the other hand, your skills are a section you can mess with at all times without fear of alerting anyone.
Once your profile is in a state you feel good about, change that setting to “public.”
What is Networking and How Do You Do It?
Oxford defines networking as “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.”
Have you ever heard of the expression “it’s who you know”? Networking is the term for getting to know the very people you need to know in your professional life for success and expansion.
If you have ever gone to a dinner, a conference, or any sort of event where you met other professions in your industry or related disciplines? That is networking.
You get to know people, what they do, and what their specialty is.
The act of “networking” can seem intimidating, but it can be an incredible tool. No matter where you are in your career, being able to meet other professionals and create lasting, valuable relationships will always be helpful.
It is a long-term investment that can help you build your own business, further yourself up the ladder, and will translate into lifelong friendships.
Skills and Endorsements on LinkedIn
Like any application process, you are generally required to list and explain your skillset. And if you are actively searching for a job, LinkedIn is an incredible resource for getting your particular skillset considered by prospective employers, hiring managers, and recruiters.
You should craft your profile similar to a resume. You have a few moments of their attention, and they need to know what you are good at.
This is how you craft your skills section.
Regardless of your format or even profession, we recommend that you only post skills relevant to the positions you are trying to fill.
The skills you post on your LinkedIn profile are an essential part of the career story you are attempting to tell to prospective employers, and you can list as many as you like. But as with the rest of your profile, relevance is critical.
Also, consider how LinkedIn will break up your skills section into three categories: interpersonal skills, industry knowledge, and “other.”
You can play with how you describe your skills and determine what category they end up in. Additionally, you can free text skills, but they will always end up in “other,” which can be disappointing depending on how relevant they are to your profession.
On a mobile device, there will only be three skills visible, each of which you can choose, and they can come from any of the three sections.
Endorsements are a feature specific to LinkedIn that is a combination of a like and a review. Someone can endorse a skill that they have seen you apply in association with your profession and position.
And because the skills highest up on your profile are the most visible, it makes them the easiest to select for endorsement.
How to Give and Receive Recommendations
Before a supervisor hires you, no matter how good they feel about your candidacy for their position, they will check out your recommendations. Can you blame them?
Recommendations are one of the best ways, besides a resume or LinkedIn profile, to get an idea of who someone is and how they function in a professional setting.
On LinkedIn, you will be able to ask people you are connected to for recommendations with great ease, but it’s not that simple.
When you deliberate who you’ll reach out to for those precious recommendations, first think about asking the people that can speak to the skills you want to highlight for future positions.
If you are looking to get into managerial or leadership positions, reach out to anyone who can vouch for the kinds of traits necessary for good leaders.
How to Ask
When you go to ask someone for a recommendation, you will be asked to describe what your relationship looked like. For example, some options would be “you directed Jane Doe,” “Jane Doe managed you directly,” “Jane Doe was your client,” etc.
You will also be asked to determine your position at the time, which will be selected from every experience you have listed in your LinkedIn profile. You select “next,” and then it’s time to do the asking.
An easy way to do this could start by letting them know you are looking to enter a new field. Let them know that you enjoyed your relationship, and then just ask the question, “Would you be willing to write me a recommendation?”
You should always give the writer either your resume or a paragraph on what you are trying to do. This can help the writer create a stellar (and well-informed) recommendation.
Give and Take
If someone gives you a recommendation, it is only fair that you offer to write them one, as well. On LinkedIn, their recommendations feature allows you to like, pause, and even send back for revisions before your piece on them is public on their profile.
This is a good, kind, and effective strategy because, ultimately, you both benefit, and who doesn’t like a little kindness?
If there is something about the piece they wrote for you that you would like changed, you can easily ask, “Would you mind changing this?”
They cannot post the recommendation until you have approved it and vice versa. It’s a secure function, and it won’t just automatically populate without that approval.
Quality Not Quantity
On your profile, upon viewing, only the first three show up, whether they are ones you gave or received, though there is not a number that is required by any means. We recommend following the adage “quality, not quantity.”
One well-written, extensive review of your performance and capabilities is much more meaningful than a bunch that tells hiring managers nothing of use.
Expressing Caution on LinkedIn
If you are in a field where confidentiality is of great importance, like healthcare or law, recommendations can be tricky.
Just be sure that your review of someone stays within whatever laws or statutes you need to be wary of. The same goes for ones you are to approve for your own profile.
LinkedIn vs. The Usual Route
LinkedIn’s recommendation system is the most efficient for when you don’t want to pick up the phone or send them in physically, but, to be fair, emails and calls can simply be easier.
Who Do You Ask?
When you are searching for people from different parts of your career to ask for recommendations, you may not have to look farther than your profile.
Sometimes, merely scanning your experience and education sections can help provide some options.
Try to give prospective employers a complete, 360-degree view of you as an employee. Ask someone who oversaw you, someone you oversaw, and someone in the same position as you, a coworker.
Once you identify individuals you feel comfortable with, don’t forget to actually submit that request. Again, it may seem intimidating, but we have all been there.
And if you are righting one, the same applies. When you send what you have written back to be approved, be sure that it is as well written as it can be and that there are no typos.
How to Make Lasting Connections on LinkedIn
Connections on LinkedIn are like friendships or following someone on social media. It is a contact that you know and trust in a professional setting.
Once you connect, they are considered a 1st-degree connection, and your network expands because you have access to all of their connections.
On LinkedIn’s free version, you can’t message a new connection like you could on LinkedIn premium. You don’t need a premium membership. If you message someone that you don’t have a connection with or don’t know, LinkedIn will try to sell you on to the premium version.
On the flip side, someone who has a premium account messages you, you can reply with ease and no upcharge. If someone has a premium account, it will be indicated with a gold LinkedIn symbol next to their name.
We don’t recommend you buy it, ever.
You can do everything you need to with the free version. For example, you can find someone you don’t know, with no mutual connections, contact them merely because you are interested in them.
That is also the case for people you do have mutual connections with. You can easily message those individuals and say, “I see you are connected to Jane Doe. Would you mind introducing us?”
Upon reading this, you may feel that this is too forward or too direct, but don’t worry. In professional settings, and even on social media, it’s not considered too forward to message people you don’t know.
When you connect, you get 300 words to introduce yourself. Within that word count, you introduce yourself while noting what you are applying for, finished off with a bit about you.
The tone you take upon introduction ultimately depends on who you are reaching out to. If you are reaching out to someone you know personally, keep it simple, light, and friendly.
But if the individual you are reaching out to is a potential supervisor, hiring manager, or recruiter, be more professional. Your allotted 300 words may seem short, but it’s enough from a brief cover letter.
Messaging on LinkedIn
Just like making connections, messaging other professionals on LinkedIn can be a new and unfamiliar endeavor. But it’s not all bad.
Using the messaging feature, you can stay connected to colleagues, find new job opportunities, and take full advantage of the benefits networking offers.
When you go to a conference, you may collect cards from other people that attended. Messaging on LinkedIn is an efficient way to stay connected.
You will need to format these messages like an email, but, of course, write them with more formality than a Facebook message.
Like we said before, depending on who you are reaching out to, your tone will differ. If it is a new contact, keep it professional, and once you get to know the other party, your style can change accordingly.
We recommend you take a look, every six months or so, at who you could be connecting with and follow up with connections you have made in the past.
An easy way to keep the communication going outside of LinkedIn would be to include your email at the end of your message. Be careful who you give contact information, like a phone number out to.
This is a valuable feature and a favorite. It will automatically find your location and suggest jobs based on your profile. But just because that is what you are doing does not mean that is what you want to be doing.
Underneath the search bar, there is a section called “Because You Viewed…” This is why LinkedIn is the favorite for job boards. Once you look at a job, it will fill this section with other jobs that are similar and relevant. It will make job searching easier.
Leaving the job search section and using the general search bar, you can find people that can offer insider information on the organization you are looking into, the people you will need to submit your application to, and more.
Again, it’s not considered rude or forward to reach out to anyone like this on this platform. We recommend you always attach a connection message unless it is someone you are very familiar with.
The worst thing that can happen is they don’t respond; that’s it.
Another tip for job searching is to use your school.
You just enter linkedin.com backslash and whatever school you attended.
On the school’s page, you can see the alumni and all sorts of related statistics, including where they live, where they work, what they do, and what they studied.
You can use these lists to try and create connections for possible job opportunities.
Find the tutorial in the attached video.
While actively searching, you may find the profile of a hiring manager in charge of a position you are interested in. Something handy about LinkedIn is that it is basically an interactive resume.
And so, by messaging a recruiter or hiring manager, you can attach your phone number, and you have applied to the position. Remember to have a full resume prepared because they may require you to send that along as well.
A Couple of Things
If someone takes the time to reach out to you for a connection or to ask you for an introduction, take a few minutes to respond and send them on their way.
As a counseling group, we may be biased about helping others, but that kindness will come back around to you in the long run.
Though the need rarely occurs, you block people on this platform.
If You Need Help…
Career counseling can make a remarkable difference in your professional life, especially if you need one. They can help you find a fulfilling career that is right for you.
If you need help creating the most effective and persuasive LinkedIn profile or guidance regarding your career choices, career counseling is for you.
Give us a call at 832-559-2622 to get started on the next step in your career. Click here to schedule an appointment with a career counselor in Houston, TX, for face-to-face counseling or an online (video) career counseling session from the comfort of your home or office.
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