If you’re new to the world of LinkedIn and professional networks (and most women returning to the workforce are), then this is a good time for you to be thoughtful about your professional network. Hopefully by now I don’t have to convince you that getting to know people and building relationships are critical to your job search and, indeed, your professional success. But if you’re starting from scratch with LinkedIn, you might be wondering how on earth you’re going to amass a number of connections. More importantly, you might be worried that you don’t know the right people or enough of the right people.
Relax – I’ve got your back! Here are some strategies for expanding your network – on LinkedIn and otherwise.
- First, assess the state of your network. How strong is your network and how strong are your connections inside that network? I prefer to think about the strength of a network, instead of its size, because I’m a quality over quantity person. Having 1,000 connections on LinkedIn isn’t worth much if you don’t actually know them and can’t rely on them to help you if you ask.
- Second, realize that your message needs to be clear and will be different depending on who you are reaching out to. Friends and acquaintances are probably fine with a “Hi, here’s what I’m up to” type of message. The people you don’t know may need a more formal and flattering message like “I’ve read your books / saw you speak / admire your position on ______.” I’d like to connect so I can continue to follow your success.”
- Third, reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with via LinkedIn. I love hearing from people that I knew way back when! Carol Fishman Cohen, Chair of iRelaunch, tells re-launchers that they shouldn’t fear reconnecting with former colleagues because those people will remember you as you were when they knew you. In other words, people will remember the “professional you” even if that was from years ago.
After reconnecting, it’s perfectly OK to tap into that network for help. Many of us aren’t comfortable asking for help, but would happily help someone who asked us for a favor. Understand that sometimes in your life you’ll be in a position to give back to your network and sometimes you’ll need to tap your network for help. Both of these are perfectly natural.
Always ask “Is there anything I can help you with?” when you ask someone in your network for a favor. You never know what they might need help with so it’s always good to ask. Plus, both relationship-building and networking are two-way streets, so be prepared to give at least as much as you get.
Building and maintaining a strong network are critical to your successful career. If your network needs work, start today to map out who you know and who you’d like to know. Then reach out and build those relationships. If you’ve got a robust network but have let it go dormant, start reconnecting to people by noticing their successes and reaching out to say hi. Here’s a network map that will help you generate ideas about people you should be reaching out to and connecting to on LinkedIn.
Most of all, make networking and building relationships a habit that you work on every day. Happy connecting
For the longest time, I wanted to know exactly how recruiters used LinkedIn so I could advise the people I coached to be the most attractive candidates they could be on this platform. Then last year I had the opportunity to do some recruiting work myself and was able to gain experience being on the other side of the recruiter – candidate equation.
Here’s what I learned:
- Be open to recruiters – go into your privacy settings and click on Job Seeking Preferences => Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities. When recruiters do a LinkedIn search, they receive results that tell them (a) the number of people who have the profile they are searching for and (b) the number of people who have that profile and are open to new opportunities. In fact, recruiters start with the people who have indicated they are open to new opportunities and most never go through the others. If you want to be noticed, let the recruiters in! Also, being more active on LinkedIn will land you in more searches.
- Keywords matter – be precise. Make sure the language in your profile is an exact match to the terms you are finding in job descriptions. Reading job descriptions for the job you’d like to have is a great way to do research. The more search terms and keywords you hit on, the better!
- Have an appealing profile – show your energy, your passion and your ability to get stuff done. Your summary is a great place to do this. The language throughout your profile should reflect positivity and convey the idea that you’re a great team member.
- Be clear about what you want to do – again, your summary is a great place for this. Another place to do this is in the job titles that you specify you’d like to be contacted about. If your preferred job titles are all over the map, you’ll appear scattered. If they are focused on one specific thing, you’ll look like a person with a clear plan, which is very appealing to recruiters.
- Respond quickly when a recruiter reaches out to you – the opportunity may disappear quickly. If you’re interested, say yes right away. If it’s not the right offer, tell the recruiter why – giving feedback helps ensure that the next time they reach out to you it will be for something you’re interested in.
There you have it – the inside scoop on how recruiters find candidates on LinkedIn! Use this information to become a better candidate and get noticed for the jobs you want.
One final bonus tip: I’ve been following an Amazon recruiter on LinkedIn who is very transparent about the process for getting hired there and gives great tips for managing the job search and interview processes. Her name is Katherine Dumanoir. Follow her on LinkedIn for some solid job search advice!
Whether you are re-launching your career, making a career change or bringing in more business for your own venture, you simply must be “LinkedIn” these days. Use these tips to update your profile and get the most out of your LinkedIn experience.
Approach LinkedIn as a professional reconnecting with colleagues in the working world and finding ways to make a meaningful contribution. This tilt in attitude will help you enter with confidence instead of as someone who wants a job. Just as you are eager to expand your network, so are others. People will welcome your invitations to connect.
Sign up for a free LinkedIn account
First things first. A free account is all you need. You can decide after you’re using it regularly if you need the deluxe model and are willing to pay for it.
Turn off your Notification
Start by clicking on your picture icon on the bar at the top of the page. Go to Settings & Privacy, then scroll down to ” Share job changes, education changes, and work anniversaries from profile”. Change that setting to “No”. This is just while you’re getting set up. We want to prevent your network from being notified of every change you make as you update your profile as you build out your page. Once your profile is to your liking, go back and turn this notification to “Yes”. You’ll want to notify your network when you are adding a skill, a recommendation or a new position (!), but not right now while you are completing your profile and making edits. Build out your profile before you make lots of connections. Then start by connecting with people you know.
Create/Update your Profile
Now for the heavy lifting. Recruiters and hiring managers view your LinkedIn profile as the new version of the resume, and it could be the first thing they see – even before there is a job posting to respond to. So update your profile the right way – and do this before making connections – but know that your profile is an evolving creation that you will be editing regularly.
Even a clown uses a professional photo! You are selling the image that will get you that job, whether it is for a data manager or a clown. A professional photo is important because you’ll be reconnecting with people from the past and with people who have just interviewed you and might need to be reminded of who you are. In fact, professional photos are so important that we make it a priority at The Back to Business Women’s Conference to have a professional photographer on-hand to take photos for everyone. If you need to get yours done, I urge you to spend the money to have it done professionally. This is an investment that is well worth it. There is data to show that profiles with pictures get a much higher percentage of looks and connection invitations.
The first thing people see after your name and photo is your headline. It is not just a job title — pack it with keywords to attract others to read your profile. It does not need to be your current position (or lack thereof) since that will appear again under Experience. It should be strong and personal but not too salesy. Some examples include:
- Experienced Project Manager with pharmaceutical industry experience
- Competitive Intelligence Professional who applies data analytics to enhance decision making
- Certified Professional Facilitator | Helping Teams to get from Chaos to Clarity
- or just pack your “title” with keywords that relate to the job you want and the skills you have. Here’s an example:
Talent Management | Leadership Development | Succession Planning | Diversity & Inclusion | Executive Coaching
Customize your profile URL to include your name by following these steps:
- Click on your profile in the left sidebar to edit your URL.
- Then click on the blue pencil icon next to the box that says “More”.
- Scroll all the way down to the “Contact Info” section of the pop-up box to select your own customized URL. Keep it as simple as possible.
- Then add your personalized LinkedIn URL to your resume and email closing when sending out professional correspondence.
Take a moment right now to look up keywords that are applicable to your field of interest if you haven’t already done this for your resume. Use LinkedIn profiles for people in your line of work and job descriptions to find several keywords they use and then be sure to use them in your summary. When you use keywords in many areas of your LinkedIn profile, recruiters have a better chance of finding you.
This is an essential place to tell readers who you are and what makes you great. Be creative with this – you want to stand out and show enthusiasm – but use those keywords here and keep it professional.
Use your updated resume to populate your Experience section with your work history, education, and certifications. Pull out your biggest accomplishments at each job you’ve held to add to your LinkedIn “Experience” section. Don’t list all of your responsibilities: You just want to highlight your accomplishments here. Be sure to include new volunteer positions, skills training and organization memberships. The Back to Business Women’s Conference is a professional development opportunity, and as such can be included under the Interests or Organizations section of your LinkedIn profile. Also, be sure to join our LinkedIn group called “Back to Business Women’s Conference” and contribute to or start a discussion here.
So now you’re ready to start using LinkedIn and making connections. Turn your notification back on. Start with low-hanging fruit – connect with people that LinkedIn recommends for you. You are looking for quality connections: If there is someone you’d like to meet, you can ask for an introduction from a common connection. Set yourself a goal to make a specific number of new connections each day and track your progress. These could be former co-workers, friends and professional acquaintances. When you reach out be sure to note what they are doing and offer a kind word or a quality recommendation for a fantastic former co-worker. Remember that right now as you are connecting, you should be seeing how you can help them.
Tip: When you are requesting a connection with someone (especially someone you don’t know personally), be sure to include a personal note in the connection request that establishes why you want to connect. The generic LinkedIn request of “I’d like to add you to my professional network” is so impersonal!
Recommendations are testimonials to your service, expertise and skills. Ask others for recommendations and be willing to write a recommendation for them as well. Former co-workers, managers and clients are the best people to ask. If you’ve been out of the paid workforce for a while, think about asking people you’ve volunteered with to write you a recommendation.
Groups and Online Learning
Join a group (such as the Back to Business Women’s Conference group) under the Interests tab and get involved in a discussion. This will help to make you known to others in your field so be sure you are contributing in a constructive manner! Belonging to several groups but not participating will not help you. Similarly, check out some of the online learning opportunities – LinkedIn Learning offers online training on a variety of topics and adds completion links automatically to your LinkedIn Profile. Join your alumni organizations’ group, local networking groups and a professional group that interests you.
Use and Update
Use LinkedIn on a regular basis – the more you use it, the more likely you will come up on others’ radar. Keep your profile up-to-date and be sure to add any new skills, training programs or professional affiliations. Offer endorsements of skills for those who are deserving and recommendations where appropriate. Your connections will likely do the same for you.
Use LinkedIn to research potential companies and expand your list of target companies. Get to know everything about them and make new connections who work there. Know where your friends are working and check out who they’re connected to.
LinkedIn is another social media outlet that will demand some time upfront. Knowing how people make a living is a good use of your time for your own future, as is having them find out about you.