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5 tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn

September 22, 2014
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With more than 300 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is the online networking tool of choice for a growing number of professionals each year. In fact, in the time it took you to read that opening sentence, approximately nine new members joined LinkedIn.

With such a powerful networking tool at our fingertips, I’ve been surprised by how many users fail to utilize the features LinkedIn offers to help members network.

LinkedIn is far more than a shiny digital resume, and you may not be tapping into as much of its networking potential as you think. Here are some tips to help you fully leverage LinkedIn and start making more valuable connections. 

1. Make sure your profile is complete

Not only does LinkedIn’s search algorithm favor complete profiles, real people do too. LinkedIn shows you when your profile is complete, tells you what you’re missing, and prompts you to fill out new sections of your profile over time; don’t ignore these nudges! Make sure your profile is 100 percent complete or at least close. Then, when you do start intentionally reaching out to those new connections you’ll see better results. 

2. Get involved in groups

But not just any groups, get involved in the right groups. The search features in LinkedIn are continually being enhanced and the benefits of this can be seen in searching for groups. Do a search specifically for groups using keywords from your industry, educational institutions, community, interests, etc. You can also go to your homepage and scroll down to the “Groups You May Like” section in the sidebar on the right side of the page. Before you join a group, confirm that it is well-managed. Start by looking for active conversations from a variety people, valuable content, and a credible group manager. 

You can join up to 50 groups, which is great for gathering information and news in a variety of areas, however, many experts recommend choosing two to five groups to actively participate in. According to LinkedIn, participants who are active within their groups get four times the number of profile views, so be involved in conversations and look for ways to contribute with your personal expertise and experience. Once people begin engaging in conversation with you, don’t be shy about reaching out to them with an invitation or message.

3. Learn the art of asking for Introductions

To truly embrace LinkedIn’s networking potential, you need to get comfortable with LinkedIn’s “Get Introduced” function. Once you’ve figured out the mechanics of it, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of success. Most experts agree that asking for recommendations should be kept to second-degree connections. This means that you and the person you’re asking to be introduced to should have someone in common. Once you’ve found someone you’d like to ask for an introduction, be sure to craft a stellar message requesting the favor. 

4. Update your status

Shoot for at least once or twice a week, but be sure you aren’t bombarding your network (a maximum of twice per day). These updates can be used to share links to articles you’ve read, relevant news updates, and other information your network may find useful. Be sure that if you include a personal update it is professional in nature. This is another place to show your expertise and experience. 

5. Be helpful and authentic

If all of the connecting, sharing and participating you do is for your own benefit, people will notice. Make sure you seek to provide some kind of value to a new connection before asking for something in return. Show your personality, and of course, never use an automated message. You can also use LinkedIn and other mediums to do your research on someone before connecting or walking into a meeting. If you show people that you’re interested in what they have to say, it will make them even more apt to connect with you – virtually or not!

Keeping up with your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to be a chore! If you craft a unique and engaging profile, enjoy what you’re posting about, and truly find your connections valuable, people will pick up on it and be drawn to connect with you. So, find your style, and start making some new connections! 

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