LinkedIn is a great business tool for talent development professionals for many reasons. Learning from your LinkedIn connections, being discovered as a talent development professional, and making new friends are just a few of the benefits. However, you may never realize these benefits if you don’t take the necessary steps.
You can create real value using LinkedIn if you commit to doing these three things:
- Build a professional LinkedIn profile (see my February blog post for details on this step).
- Build a network on LinkedIn.
- Build a professional reputation on LinkedIn.
Building a Network on LinkedIn
Building a LinkedIn profile by itself does not create enough value; you must also build a network. This is done by connecting and engaging on LinkedIn. Here are a few best practices for connecting on LinkedIn:
- Never send an invitation to someone you don’t know.
- If someone unknown to you sends an invite to connect, discover who that person is first. If the person doesn’t tell you, or the person’s profile doesn’t explain the connection, reply to the invite and ask.
- Connect beyond your industry, region, and profession. Creating diversity in our networks is how we learn new ideas and grow professionally.
- When sending an invite to connect, always use the personal note option.
- Sending an invite must be focused on one thing—making the connection.
- Make and ask for introductions outside of LinkedIn. Copy the person to be introduced on the email message.
- Don’t strive for numbers. Instead, strive to make your connections meaningful.
- Where possible and relevant, connect with your network outside LinkedIn.
Building a network on LinkedIn is not a one-time task. It’s a continuous routine you should include in your weekly business processes. As I said in my book, Networking for Mutual Benefit, “Networking is finding, developing and nurturing relationships that mutually move people forward through life.”
Building a Professional Reputation on LinkedIn
Engaging is how we build a professional reputation on LinkedIn. Done properly, this professional reputation can earn you the trust and respect of your peers. Building your professional reputation on LinkedIn requires paying attention to what you share and engage with. Here are a few best practices for engaging on LinkedIn:
- After connecting, begin engaging immediately. Use an email or a LinkedIn message, or even a phone call where appropriate. Make the first engagement all about your new connection.
- Like, comment on, or share LinkedIn content relevant to who you are and what you do.
- Always read or view content before you like, comment on, or share it on LinkedIn.
- When sharing content on LinkedIn, always tell your network why you are sharing it and how they may benefit from it.
- Never criticize, condemn, or complain.
- Unless you are a politician or in a religion-related field, do not engage in conversations about politics or religion on LinkedIn.
- Be balanced when engaging on LinkedIn. Liking something means “thanks,” commenting shows you are more interested in the content, and sharing shows you think others will benefit as well.
- Mention individuals or businesses directly involved in a conversation and not to get someone’s attention.
Skip any of these three steps and you can miss out on maximizing the value of LinkedIn. If you want help building your own LinkedIn profile, network, and reputation, visit my LinkedIn training program at Burriss Consulting LinkedIn Coaching.