Is there a more influential professional networking site than LinkedIn? Launched in 2003, the website expanded rapidly out of the gate. 20 years and 750 million users later, LinkedIn continues to dominate the online networking space.
Whether you're new to the site or you're just looking to expand your network with best practices and processes, we're here to help. Here are some tips from successful executives on how to use LinkedIn to network and build connections.
Add and Connect
Learning the ropes of LinkedIn is so easy, it's hard to mess up. Get your profile up, fill in the info, and start adding people to your network. Any questions you have can be answered with guides or FAQs.
"LinkedIn is one of the most intuitive professional networking sites out there," said Jenn O'Hara, CEO of Soba Recovery. "Once you start adding connections, LinkedIn will suggest people from your schools and organizations. Continue adding people. Message them to fill them in on what you're doing."
Like other social media networks, there are more advanced features as well, but you can start by mastering the basics.
Active and Engaged
You've heard of the algorithms used by sites like Google, YouTube, Facebook, and others. The same technology powers LinkedIn, and requires you to be an active member of the community.
The more you participate, the more opportunities will come your way.
"LinkedIn is extremely important for building connections, ranging from everything to collaborating on content to acquiring backlinks," said Jordan Dwayne, CEO and Founder of 6 Ice. "Plus, these contacts that you make, even when not beneficial initially, may even come into play down the road. So, stay active, engage in posts, and support your fellow connects. Typically, a good portion will do the same for you!"
If you commit to posting frequently and engaging with others on the site, you'll have thousands of connections in no time.
Something for Everyone
Why use LinkedIn if you've already got a job you love? It's always smart to network regardless of where you are in your journey, because you never know what might happen next.
"If you can get better at your job, you should be an active member of LinkedIn, because LinkedIn should be connecting you to the information, insights and people to be more effective," said Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn.
It doesn't matter what industry you're in or what your goals may be. This is a site for everyone.
Like other social media websites, LinkedIn has many interesting groups and pockets of users who connect on certain topics and create small communities within the broader site.
Find groups that you enjoy or make sense with your background.
"LinkedIn allows professionals to connect with each other and build their networks," said Fred Gerantabee, CEO of Foster Grant. "Connect with people from your university and your company in order to build your network quickly. LinkedIn will usually suggest people to add but you can also search yourself if you'd like to add more relevant connections."
Conducting searches and exploring will open opportunities and unexpected connections, so why not take some chances?
Follow Up Online
Let's say you've met someone at work or a meeting with a partner organization. In addition to sending follow-up emails or calls, find them on LinkedIn to make the connection official.
"LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful tool to network," said Chris Gadek, Head of Growth at AdQuick. "A great way to build relationships is by adding everyone you encounter while working directly after meeting with them. From here you can message them a thank you for meeting with you and start to build a relationship that becomes more personable through utilizing LinkedIn."
Connecting on LinkedIn makes more sense than Facebook or Instagram - that's for sure!
Show Your Value
A grainy picture and sparse resumé are not going to draw much attention to your LinkedIn page, so take some time to spruce things up. It doesn't take long, and it has a huge impact on your success.
"To successfully leverage LinkedIn, you need a strategy in place that shows your industry that you're a valuable connection," said Michael Scanlon, CMO and Co-Founder of Roo Skincare. "LinkedIn only ranks profiles that are completed so fill out every section of your profile professionally. Request to connect with people in your industry and attach a personalized note. Post engaging original content on your page to elicit responses and highlight your industry savviness. Your goal is to stand out so join LinkedIn groups and interact with its members."
Only a small percentage of LinkedIn users are engaged users with complete profiles, so you want to be part of the upper crust.
Worth the Effort
Think that building and maintaining a LinkedIn profile is just another time-waster like other social media platforms? That's just not the case, considering the millions of profitable and life-changing connections that have been made on the site so far.
"Creating a network on LinkedIn takes time but it's definitely worth it," said Tim Mitchum, Founder of Winpro Pet. "Look at your feed and see who commented on posts and then add those people to your network. They're active on the site and may keep up communication with you."
You get what you put into LinkedIn, so apply yourself and reap the rewards.
If you're in the game of sales, marketing, or just representing your company for general partnerships, you've got to be on LinkedIn. If not, you're at a disadvantage, plain and simple.
"Traditional selling channels of email and phone are tried and true, but LinkedIn and other social channels can greatly increase sales performance," said Ken Krogue, Entrepreneur and Writer.
Learn the platform fully so you can be equipped to jump on opportunities and capitalize before others beat you to the punch.
Your experience on LinkedIn won't be very enjoyable - or lucrative - unless you make a point to contribute and connect with others on the site frequently. Just a few posts a week can put you in the upper tier of active users, so make the commitment.
"When used correctly, LinkedIn can be an invaluable networking resource for you to build connections with people in your industry," said Carrie Derocher, CMO of TextSanity. "First, you'll need a professional and fully completed profile that stands apart from the rest. Include a personalized note when sending connection requests. LinkedIn is useless if you don't contribute to the platform so be sure to engage in conversations, participate in discussions, and contribute original content. You want to show that you're knowledgeable and worth the connection."
Yes, with just a bit of effort, you can be a LinkedIn influencer and take your career to the next level. What is there to lose?
If you're searching for new contacts, browsing mutual connections is one of the best ways to stack up some quick connections. The introduction has already been made for you.
"Request to connect with someone in your industry or who shares a mutual connection with you," said Chris Vaughn, CEO of Emjay. "Be proactive and comment on other people's posts to initiate conversation, post interesting content, and join LinkedIn groups. The algorithm only ranks completed profiles so to increase its views you need to fill it out in its entirety and make sure it looks professional."
Use the algorithm to your advantage, and before long, people will be reaching out to you.
Buddies from school or colleagues from past jobs are all on LinkedIn, too. Drop them a line and connect to see where they're at.
"Use LinkedIn to reconnect with contacts that you may have lost touch with," said David DiLorenzo, President of Valentino Beauty Pure. "Do this by sending a connect invite with a message saying how it's been a while since you last spoke and wishing them well in light of current events. You can also try engaging with their content on LinkedIn. Maintaining relationships on LinkedIn is crucial to your networking success."
You never know if you might rekindle a connection from the past that leads to an exciting opportunity in the future, so give it a go.
Beyond Your Industry
The modern business world is interdisciplinary, and there is no reason to limit yourself to your industry when making connections. Branch out and you might discover new interests, connections, or even career paths.
"LinkedIn is a powerful tool to connect with other business professionals in your industry or adjacent industries," said Jordan Smyth, CEO of Gleamin. "You can leverage your current connections in order to reach out to new connections. LinkedIn has a feature on their app that allows you to connect with people nearby. This is a powerful tool that can help you build a strong local network."
It has never been easier to move from one career to the next, or at least learn new skills. Use LinkedIn as the foundation for exploration.
Blog it Up
You might think that blogs are no longer relevant, but they are alive and well on LinkedIn and beyond. People still love long-form content and want to hear what you have to say.
"A great way to grow your LinkedIn following and build connections is by publishing your own blog to LinkedIn," said Darren Litt, Chairman and Co-Founder of MarketerHire. "These types of blog posts can be centered around your business, your position, or skills needed to succeed. If done correctly, your blog post will start to gain the attention of other followers and you will start to grow a following."
No matter what they're doing on TikTok, blogs will never die, especially in the business world.
As you become more comfortable with the LinkedIn user interface, you'll notice that it has some interesting features that you may have originally missed. Take the time to learn all these quirks and put yourself at an advantage.
"LinkedIn networking is a bit different from networking on other platforms," said Randi Shinder, CEO of SBLA. "There's a way to use it to your advantage, however, Click the 'my network' tab and review your connections. Remove anyone whose position isn't relevant to your industry. Then search within your school and company to see who you can add and send them a message letting them know your current projects and professional goals."
LinkedIn is also adding new features all the time, so look out for those.
Spark a Convo
You don't have to follow the script when connecting on LinkedIn. Reach out in a confident way, but also put your own personal twist on communication.
As long as you're considerate and well-spoken, there's no wrong way to connect.
"Using LinkedIn to network and build connections is fairly straightforward and simple," said Jeffrey Brown, President of Big Fig Mattress. "Once you fill out your profile, you can add people to your network and chat with them. Let people know about any professional projects you're currently involved in."
Be authentic, casual, yet professional in your conduct - the perfect combo.
Feed the Beast
There is no end to your journey on LinkedIn. Add content to your page, join various groups, engage in conversations with business giants - there's always something to do!
"LinkedIn can help professionals connect with each other and build their network," said Dr. Anthony Puopolo, CMO of Rex MD. "One strategic way to build your network is to connect with people in your organization. Usually, when you fill out your company information, LinkedIn will suggest connections within your company. Add as many people as possible and add content to your feed at least once per week."
Go above and beyond on LinkedIn and you'll have no shortage of opportunities moving forward.
Make it Personal
Your LinkedIn etiquette will improve naturally as you learn how things work and what others expect. Find the balance of personalized content and professional structure, and you can't go wrong.
"If you request a connection with a complete stranger, then send a personalized note that explains why you want to connect," said Haim Medine, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Mark Henry Jewelry. "Post interesting content that invites people to comment and then engage in conversation with them. After you build an online connection, take it offline and meet in person."
Unless you've only just discovered the internet in 2021, you've probably got a good idea of how to use social media networks and connect with people you know.
LinkedIn is not fundamentally different - just keep it professional, follow these tips, and take your career to new heights!