Establishing a good rapport on LinkedIn involves more than following a how-to list of tactical steps. Sure, there are many technical things you can do to gain better visibility on the professional social network, but building a network doesn’t happen overnight.
A common misnomer about LinkedIn is that it’s a one-and-done, update-when-you-have-a-need type of network. It’s much more social than that. When you create a profile, you will not magically build relationships.
As a professional in your field, you have spent years handing out business cards, attending conferences, networking online and grabbing the occasional coffee or drink with an associate. While these are effective ways to network yourself and your business, if it has been a couple of months since you last logged into your LinkedIn profile, you could be missing valuable networking opportunities.
Most people understand the steps and value of creating a marketable LinkedIn profile, so let’s get right into the methodology of using the service to its fullest potential.
• Give to give. LinkedIn has simplified its recommendation process with endorsements, which provide a quick way of saying, “Jon knows a lot about this, that and the other.” Longer-form recommendations still exist, but they require more effort. Give endorsement and recommendations without expecting anything in return, but chances are, if the connection thinks highly of you, the favor will be reciprocated.
• Don’t wait until you have a need. Everyone has been guilty of this at some point. We neglect our LinkedIn page for months or even years, and suddenly the waters at our job begin to get rocky, so we race like heck to update our profile, showing people we still exist. Be proactive about updating your profile, not waiting until the final hour to make valuable connections.
• Remember what network you’re on. LinkedIn, at its core, is a social network, and it has a news feed like most other social networks. Share interesting articles related to your industry, comment on and like other connections’ posts and join niche groups. Don’t make every post about you and your company. Your LinkedIn network appreciates those personal updates, but your connections don’t want to be inundated by your company’s marketing messages and “humblebrags.” Share content that will benefit your connections.
• Harness your team’s network. Relationships and referrals are two of the most effective ways to get an “in.” Scour your connections’ connections to see if the person you’d like to get in touch with is already a connection of theirs.
• Be real. “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” This is the default message LinkedIn creates when you send a connection request. Instead, delete the default message and replace it with a personal message. Explain to the person how you met or how you know them. Oftentimes, people will not except a connection request from someone they have not met.