Network like a pro: How to maximise LinkedIn

Think of LinkedIn as, a networking tool that allows you to have human interactions that you otherwise would have face-to-face.

Are you taking full advantage of LinkedIn’s networking and business potential? Experts share their best tips.

LinkedIn, the largest professional social platform, is not just a place to display your CV. With more than 760 million global users, it is the coalface for career-based networking.

LinkedIn is not a means to an end, says Kieron Brown, founder of Melbourne-based lead generation agency LeadCycle.

“What you need to think of it as, is a networking tool that allows you to have human interactions that you otherwise would have face-to-face.

“The more you think of it as this kind of tool that’s strictly for marketing purposes, the less likely you are to treat people as humans and have empathy and build rapport in a natural kind of way,” he adds. 

Connect with prospective employers

Anna O’Dea, LinkedIn Top Voice and founder of Agency Iceberg, says: “Add people at companies that you want to work for and just start building up your network. 

“You can get your foot in the door if you connect with people. Send them a polite note like: ‘I'm currently working for one of your key competitors and I would absolutely love to have a chat if any new role comes up in your team’,” she says.

Do not overapply

“You have to be selective when it comes to jobs,” says O’Dea, who urges a quality-over-quantity approach. 

“I understand that we've gone through a pandemic and people might be really vulnerable and may even be a little bit desperate to find work, but you still have to be selective and go for jobs that are suitable to your skill set and are at the right level and at the right salary mark.”

Be an expert

Brown recommends positioning yourself as an expert rather than as a jobseeker or as someone who's networking for the sake of building their network. 

“You want to be the person... having the most interesting conversations and adding value to people’s situations rather than telling stories about themselves and pitching their own products,” he says. 

Post engaging content

“Whether it is a quick post or a long article, get comfortable with posting and sharing on LinkedIn,” says Brown. To many, this can feel like oversharing, but it is the natural order on LinkedIn. 

“I would recommend that people start with whatever format is easiest for them because the biggest barrier is posting consistently. If you are comfortable posting a video, do that, because videos attract more engagement. Remember just a phone video works; it doesn't need to be Hollywood standard.”

O’Dea adds: “Everything you post on the cyber world has consequences but don’t be shy about posting your opinions. In the end, it is important to ask: do you want to work for people who don't have the same values as you do?”

Join LinkedIn groups 

Brown notes that LinkedIn has recently reorganised their infrastructure around groups, and they are getting better. Now it can help to stay abreast with what’s happening within your industry and to make new connections.

The basics of a 5-star LinkedIn profile

Anna O’Dea shares a few ideas for making a strong profile:

Professional photo: Make sure you've got an up-to-date professional profile photo. Avoid posting vacation photos or selfies. 

Stay relevant: List your education and experience to include roles that are relevant to the industry that you work in and are relevant to the kind of roles you are targeting.  

Grow your network: Find colleagues and former classmates, previous employers and prospective employees that you know you'd love to work for and start connecting with them on LinkedIn. Personalising your connection request with a note always makes a difference and increases the likelihood that it will be accepted. 

References: This is an important part of the profile to build credibility. Politely ask previous employers or people that you've worked with for at least a six-month period for a recommendation or endorsement. Don’t go overboard with 50 endorsements or recommendations – five to 10 are enough.

Media and marketing collateral: Attach media such as photos, PDFs, presentations, websites and media stories associated with projects on which you’ve worked.

Using LinkedIn for business 

Kieron Brown shares key steps to successfully attract and keep your audience:

Identify your audience: A lot of people who fail to have success on LinkedIn are too broad in what they're trying to ask, whether it’s from a recruitment perspective or from a lead generation perspective. As a business, you must take the time to understand who you want to speak to and why. 

Solve a problem: Look at the types of clients that you’ve worked with in the past and see if there’s a theme around problems that you uniquely solve. Sometimes businesses are reluctant to explain themselves in a narrow way but being specific is often far more effective than being a generalist.

Articulate the solution: Showcase your expertise and thought leadership by explaining how your solution will make that person's life easier when you do connect with them. It's a fine balance between coming across as “sales-y” and being seen as a welcome guest into this person's life who is about to take this big problem off their shoulders. If you conduct that successfully, you come across as an authority on the topic.

Show, don't tell: You see a lot of people post about how they say they help clients to solve a certain problem. You would be much better off to show a screenshot of a client who has had positive results rather than saying we can help you get this result.

LinkedIn campaigns: It’s hard to imagine many B2B campaigns having the same effectiveness through other channels, like Facebook Ads or Google Ads, with anywhere near the immediacy that you can get by reaching out directly on Linkedin. It’s a scalable way to reach otherwise hard-to-find decision makers.

Is LinkedIn Premium worth it?

It was recently reported that 39 per cent of users have paid for LinkedIn Premium.

“If you're hiring a manager or a recruiter, you need Premium where you can actually post jobs and send a message to anyone on the platform,” says O’Dea. 

“If you're the talent, you don't need it too much because they can use a free service like a recruiter to help them find a job far more effectively.”

Brown says for a business or employer, one of the main benefits is that you can get much more granular around the searches that you run so you can filter by company, a company’s size, the titles, the functions and demographics, to find leads and talent. 

“From a networking and lead generation perspective, use Sales Navigator to see if someone is being promoted within a company or if someone has started a new company, and then use that as a reason to engage with them.”

December/January 2022
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