Networking on LinkedIn

Networking on LinkedIn requires many of the skills needed for traditional face-to-face group gatherings. However, the environment for the acquaintance is completely different to a function room, hotel lobby, airport lounge, bar or water cooler. It’s good to use the status update frequently. It’s similar to a tweet on Twitter. In fact, the update can also work with Twitter. You can attach a link to things like press releases, order announcements, major events. Alternatively, you can let your connections know that you’re speaking at the Renewable Energy conference in London and that you have only 6 spare tickets left to give away.

Here are a few other tips to get the best out of networking on LinkedIn:
  • Just because you currently have the opportunity to communicate with a prospective contact doesn’t necessarily mean that they, too, have the time. They may be on vacation for two weeks, on leave following the bereavement of a close relative, or on a training course in a foreign country. So be empathetic and respectful of other people’s time. Resist jumping to the wrong conclusion if they don’t respond to you within 24 hours.
  • It’s imperative that you paste a photograph of yourself into your LinkedIn profile. The small minority of members who choose not to paste their photo are at a disadvantage. Potential contacts wonder why you are not showing your face to them. Are you untrustworthy? Use all of the media available to you in your LinkedIn profile, like video, audio, images, slides, etc.
  • Potential clients, customers, employers, and partners all like to work with people who are experienced in their profession. They also like to deal with people who have character. Consequently, it’s important to engage in discussions in the the Groups section and Answers section of LinkedIn.
  • Spend an hour or so, each week, on LinkedIn searching for old school friends, previous university students, fellow Rotarians, colleagues at earlier companies, and colleagues at your current employer. When you find an old friend or colleague then send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. It’s a good idea to tell them where you met and during which years. It’s entirely forgiveable to initially forget someone, after twenty or thirty years, until the memory is jogged a little.
  • It’s important to keep your profile information up to date. Obviously, this means updating your current job description and employer. Additionally, it involves pruning information that is no longer relevant and changing descriptions to use terminology applicable to the year 2012. For example, “wireless” in 1980 means something different to “wireless” in 2010.
  • Finally, job titles have changed tremendously in the last couple of decades. For example, in France, the lowest position title for a graduate can be “manager” or “leader” and, within a few years this becomes director and vice-president, almost automatically. It’s different in the US and other European countries where job titles more often are more meaningful and reflect better the seniority and responsibilities of the employee.

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