Maximising Networking Opportunities with LinkedIn

We have all heard the quotation “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” So how do we go about meeting new people and building contacts - in other words, how do we develop a network? Attending functions and utilising social media to hasten your networking opportunities, you can create potential opportunities.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform. It has grown from 58 million members in 2011 to over 200 million members in March 2013. More than 12,000 organisations have registered with LinkedIn and more than five billion searches on the internet were related to LinkedIn. This platform allows numerous opportunities to connect with potential employees, employers, business partners, suppliers and clients. Whether you are looking to return to the workforce after a break with children, wanting to profile the people behind your business or wanting to increase your business internet presence, it is highly recommended that you get on board. The beauty of LinkedIn is that maintaining a profile doesn’t need to be as time intensive as other social networking sites. However, it is not enough just to create a LinkedIn profile - you need to maximise your profile.

LinkedIn provided the following data:

  • As your professional network grows, so do your career opportunities
  • Job seekers who grow their networks are 30% more likely to find jobs than other job seekers whose networks remained static

An Effective Profile

LinkedIn suggests that having a completed profile provides you with a 40% greater chance for networking success. A completed profile is the most effective way to showcase your skills, background, experience, interests and areas of expertise. With your foundation in place you will be well positioned for the next phase, where you can grow your business or personal profile for networking.

Some key tips when creating your LinkedIn profile:

1. Upload a Professional Photo

Make a good first impression as this gives you the best opportunity to attract new connections.

2. Create a Compelling Headline

With only 120 characters, use descriptive and compelling keywords to capture the attention of professionals.

3. List your Current Position and at Least Two Previous Positions

4. Give Recommendations First

Recommendations from a LinkedIn member who has used your products/services can be displayed on your profile and these are an effective way to build credibility and trust. A good way to obtain recommendations is to provide them first. You need at least three in order for LinkedIn to label your profile complete.

5. Complete the Interests, Groups and Associations Sections

Each of these terms will be hyper-linked and will take you to other users in the network who share these interests.

Optimising Your Profile

1. Edit your LinkedIn URL

Customise your URL so your profile will be optimised to show in search results. Ideally, you want it to be your name or the closest possible match. For example, this is my LinkedIn URL

2. Customise your Website Listings

You can add 3 links to other sites - such as your website and other social media profiles. It’s a great opportunity to market your business and create valuable back links. You have the option of choosing the anchor text - select ‘other’ and use your name or company name with some additional keywords to boost your SEO.

3. Make your LinkedIn Profile Publicly Visible to Everyone

You want other LinkedIn professionals to find you easily. Being invisible or private will not help build your network or attract opportunities.

LinkedIn profile visible to everyone

4. Join Groups. You’re allowed up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. Join as many as you can. Groups are how you get things done on LinkedIn. By joining groups people can get to know you and your business. Try to post relevant discussions on a regular basis but not of a direct selling nature.  Post articles, events, requests for advice and suggest discussions about topics relevant to the group.

5. Participate in Threads. If you’re just a ‘poster’ and not a participant, it will appear that you are in it to promote yourself, rather than a participating member of the LinkedIn community.

Lastly, connect with everyone! You never know where an opportunity can come from. Start adding your LinkedIn link to your email signature, on other social networking sites, on your business cards and other marketing material.

Use this social network to gain exposure, credibility, to maintain contact and connect with other professionals who may otherwise be beyond your reach. In addition, you can seek advice; research companies; track the health of an industry (or company); check out potential clients and employees. There are also Search Engine Optimisation benefits that increase the search engine results of your website.

This is a brief overview on how to maximise your LinkedIn profile. There is a wealth of free information on the internet that can assist to further capitalise on this marketing tool, not only for a personal profile but a company profile as well.