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How to Network Using LinkedIn

Published On : May 22, 2020

LinkedIn isn't just an online resume; it's a place to tell your whole career story. "Everyone has the power to evolve their careers," says Katie Fogarty, a career strategist and founder of The Reboot Group. "But in order to do so, you have to own and be able to share your career story — and LinkedIn is great for that."

With nearly 690 million users, LinkedIn is the place for networking online. But how do you know if you're doing it right? Here's our primer on doing just that.

Complete your profile

LinkedIn isn't just an online resume; it's a place to tell your whole career story. "Everyone has the power to evolve their careers," says Katie Fogarty, a career strategist and founder of The Reboot Group. "But in order to do so, you have to own and be able to share your career story — and LinkedIn is great for that."

The best way to do that is to make sure your profile is as complete as possible.

  • Cover image and profile picture:
    Choose a professional-looking headshot to feature on your profile, not a candid shot snapped at the beach. If possible, upload a cover image that's related to your industry or work.
  • Headline:
    This is a title to describe who you are and what you do best. But choose your language carefully so you present yourself as both cutting-edge and knowledgeable about how your industry is evolving. "There's a big difference between the sound of 'social media manager' and 'social & digital evangelist' even though the roles might be the same," explains Ann Burr Clevenger, who has created social media programs for Aetna and Consumer Reports. 'Manager' in this case sounds dated, according to Clevenger. It's a term that was used to describe this kind of work a decade ago. In contrast, 'Evangelist' better captures the innovative spirit of the people who are currently successful in the role.
  • About section:
    Use this area to announce to employers who you are and what value you can bring to their company. Explain a little about what lights you up professionally and your major career milestones. And let your personality come through in the wording!
  • 'Featured' section:
    Here you should link to any site that features your work or achievements so that potential employers have this extra peek into who you are and what you've accomplished professionally. You can also upload your own relevant media, such as photos, presentations or infographics. If you have published articles on LinkedIn, you can also display those here.
  • 'Experience' section:
    This is where you should include detailed descriptions of your past employment or related expertise. If your previous employers have active LinkedIn pages, you can link to them here, which makes it easier for potential employers to get a fuller picture of your background. Then recap your responsibilities and achievements with concise, engaging language.
  • 'Skills & Endorsements' section:
    This is a great place to showcase any special talents you might have. Do you speak several languages? Include that here! If you have in-depth experience with various programs or technologies that are used frequently in your industry, this is the section in which to include this information.
  • 'Recommendations' section:
    Before LinkedIn, employers did not hear from applicants' references until the end of the hiring process. Today, former colleagues can recommend you publicly on your LinkedIn profile. "It goes a long way when someone who knows you professionally says something nice about you," says Ann Burr Clevenger.

Connect with colleagues and influencers

Ideally, you should aim to connect with both professional peers and also influencers in your field since they might post content that could help expand your knowledge and understanding of your industry's landscape. The best way to do this is to send a message request with a short personal note stating why you would like to connect.

For Greg Creamer, who works at a Boston-area environmental services provider, this strategy paid off big. "I sent a LinkedIn message to the CEO of my target company asking him if we could meet. He was impressed that I approached him because he thought it showed good 'hustle,'" says Creamer. Within a week, the company created a new position and offered him the job.

Participate in the platform

The key to success on LinkedIn is interaction, so make an effort to comment on posts related to your industry in addition to sharing relevant articles. But be mindful of what you post.

"Recruiters look at what sort of comments you're leaving on threads and any articles you might be sharing or publishing yourself," says Stacey Staaterman, a certified professional coach. They're also noting where you might have left a thumbs-up emoji or a 'like,' so be careful about what you choose to attach yourself to.

Above all, says Katie Fogarty of The Reboot Group, "keep your LinkedIn profile up to date so that whenever you need it, it's ready to rock and roll."

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Audrey Brashich

Audrey Brashich

Career Advice Contributor

Audrey D. Brashich covers lifestyle trends, pop culture, and parenthood for national publications including The Washington Post and Yahoo. She is also the author of "All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty."

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