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Professional Networking: Top 5 Tips For LinkedIn Beginners - Executive Leadership Articles

Professional Networking: Top 5 Tips For LinkedIn Beginners

Executive Leadership Articles

Professional Networking: Top 5 Tips For LinkedIn Beginners

If you're still trying out your professional networker's starter kit and have not optimized your LinkedIn profile, this is your next step. The connectivity-challenged emerging professional with eyes on bigger things can feel as if he or she is late to the LinkedIn party or has even missed the boat. Nothing could be further from the truth, as new memberships are created at the rate of two per second, with 93 million registered users in the United States alone. While the professional networking site certainly has its drawbacks, these are simply numbers that cannot be ignored, especially as more and more hirers are looking at LinkedIn profiles in their searches for their next hot talent. If you are still trying to figure out what this thing is for, fear not: you are not the only one, and these five tips will help get you networking like the pro you aspire to be.

1. Keep it current and professional.
Your LinkedIn profile is not the place for the cute picture of you and your toddler smearing cake frosting on each other's faces. If you don't have professional head shots, find a friend who knows what he or she is doing and work something out. Do not ask a professional photographer or an aspiring professional photographer, legit or just starting out, for free pictures. Keep it professional, respect the photographer's right to be paid, and consider adding the photographer as one of your first contacts. Look through a hundred public profiles to get a sense of what works and what doesn't, then take the time to mold your profile in similar style. Unlike many of your old resumes, your profile should be a living, growing entity with new modifications on a regular basis. It takes work to maintain and keep it vital, but you're a Ferrari and you shouldn't be parked in the garage.

2. Keep Giving.
Of course you are eager to collect endorsements like crazy and to get connected to some real movers, but it's not a bad personal policy to never solicit endorsements. Instead think of your regular LinkedIn time as a chance to help others out. This is what networking is all about, of course, so spend so me time regularly focused on endorsing others. If LinkedIn has one very excellent thing to claim, it's that a spirit of reciprocity feels engrained into the social sphere. People remember the person who left glowing, unsolicited testimony, and that's a good feeling.

3. Keep Your Ears Open.
One of the most rewarding benefits of healthy networking is making productive, meaningful, beneficial connections--between two people you care about. Pay attention when one LinkedIn friend says she's looking for a mobile apps programmer, and take a moment to look through your connections for someone who might be offering services along those lines. Be careful: your recommendation of one friend to another should carry some credibility, or else future referrals might not be taken seriously. But if you can, in good conscience, help two friends find each other, you are making the world--and LinkedIn--a better place. This is the value of the professional network and you just increased the value of yours.

4. Keep Your Eyes Open.
Pay attention to who's acquainted with your quality networkers. If you hold a particular contact in very high regard, and if he or she holds you in high regard, chances are excellent that others in his or her circles are worth getting to know. Look for those who have the same sharing spirit as you, and ask your mutual friend for an introduction. There is an introduction tool built in on LinkedIn, but this method lacks charm, especially if the involved parties don't modify the default introduction messages. If you have specific skills to offer your potential new acquaintance, ask your mutual friend to set up an exchange of emails or phone numbers, or to possibly set up an introductory meeting over coffee.

5. Keep it Professional.
You surely don't need to be told this, but thousands of hirers are looking through LinkedIn profiles all the time, and if a potential employer has not yet asked for a link to your profile, that day is almost surely coming. Save the off-color humor for the man-cave or woman-cave; ditto your red-eyed St. Patrick's Day photos. Keep your content above reproach, keep your comments on other's posts positive and encouraging, and keep an open mind as the enormous melting pot of LinkedIn sends you hurtling through the network headlong into all kinds of interesting, hard-to-predict people.

You can't spell NETWORKING without WORK, and keeping a well-maintained, thoughtfully-curated professional network is surely that. With these pointers, you can carve out your little place of the networking consciousness, adding to its value and to others' awareness of what your role is in that little space.

 

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Professional Networking: Top 5 Tips For LinkedIn Beginners - Executive Leadership Articles

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