When creating, building and maintaining a network consisting of both fellow executives and search consultants alike, LinkedIn can be vital tool as it allows you to strengthen existing connections and make new ones with ease. However, it is important to make sure that your approach to LinkedIn networking is focused and strategic to boost its effectiveness.
To make sure your LinkedIn networking efforts are fully optimized for success, here are three key fundamentals of LinkedIn networking for executives.
1. Create a Fully-Optimized Profile
Your LinkedIn profile is intrinsic to making good impressions with new connections, and to reinforcing your professional reputation with existing connections. You should make sure that your profile is not only complete, but also differentiates you from other executives to showcase what you have to offer.
Beginning with your profile picture, you should be sure to select a professional, high quality photograph where you are dressed in business appropriate attire with a plain background. Keep personal or family centric photos for Facebook. With LinkedIn, your aim should be to demonstrate your professionalism and your ability to integrate into different company cultures if you are planning on a transition.
Having no picture at all is definitely not a viable option either. You are also seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you include a photo, so it is worth investing your time to ensuring that you are presenting yourself correctly.
Other ways to make your LinkedIn profile looks polished and impactful is with the use of custom URLS, clear and aspirational headlines, intriguing summary sections that make use of industry-specific keywords, and collating a good selection of endorsements.
2. Carefully Plan Your Outreach
After you have finished optimizing your profile, you can begin planning and strategizing your target outreach. Your target outreach list should be reflective of your executive career goals. You can also sync your LinkedIn profile with your email or other platforms to export your existing connections from there in order to begin building your network.
When reaching out to new connections, it is always best practice to personalize your invitation. It will increase the likelihood of the recipient accepting the invitation to connect and can also encourage the initial flow of conversation. LinkedIn does provide a template that can be used; however, it is wise to edit this as it can appear too generic. When writing your personalized message, be sure to include points to help build a connection such as where you met, any mutual acquaintances, or anything else that would help solidify the connection. You can expand your network further by perusing the “People You May Know” section.
3. Make the Most of LinkedIn Groups
Joining LinkedIn groups can be a great way to engage and interact with executives who share common interests and who are representative of people who you’ve identified as your target for new connections. There are groups who represent particular job functions, industries, geographies, general interests and more allowing you to further focus your networking approach.
Prior to posting in your selected group, it’s advisable to read the group rules to make sure your post adheres to the group’s requirements and ethos. You should take the time to engage with the posts of other executives by sharing, commenting and posing questions to stimulate group discussion.
LinkedIn is continuing to increase in popularity and has become an invaluable resource for potential employers and executive recruiters, making it even more vital for executives to master the art of LinkedIn networking to gain visibility among these groups. With over 300 million professionals currently registered on the site, if you are not active on LinkedIn, you could be missing out on thousands of networking and possible career opportunities.