Level Up Your Career With LinkedIn – Download a Free LinkedIn Checklist
As COVID-19 continues to reshape how we work, many practitioners are leveraging the LinkedIn community. Boasting 706+ million users in more than 200 countries, LinkedIn represents the largest network of educated, experienced, and influential people in the world!
How we interact with professional contacts may have changed, but connecting and cultivating relationships with others remains a key career development strategy. Even though social distancing, contactless exchanges, and work from home arrangements will likely be in place for the foreseeable future, that does not mean we can or should disconnect from others altogether. In fact, times like these require us to consciously invest more in social capital. Whether you are currently unemployed and looking for work, employed and interested in making your next career move, or self-employed and searching for new clients, LinkedIn is an ideal community to join. You can actually level up your career by leveraging the LinkedIn community.
If you find you have a little more time on your hands these days, or can steal some time in between Zoom meetings, here are a few ways you can use LinkedIn to connect and cultivate relationships with others; a key step to levelling up your career.
Update Your Profile (And Keep It Up To Date!)
Unfortunately, Covid-19 caught a lot of people by surprise. Perhaps they had created an account and populated a basic profile, but when 10% of Canada’s labour force was suddenly laid off, people realized they should have updated their profiles sooner. Having a complete and up-to-date profile means you appear in more search results and you make a positive first impression when people find you.
LinkedIn also releases new features on a regular basis. These features are all intended to help job seekers and professionals communicate their competencies, unique skills and offerings, as well their personal brand. If you have not updated your profile in a while, be sure to check out what is new and take advantage of as many features as possible.
Grab this FREE LinkedIn Profile Checklist I created to ensure your profile is complete!
Once your profile is up to date, it’s time to take stock of your network. Taking some time to assess who you are already connected with and who you would like to be connected with can help direct future networking efforts.
First, when looking at current connections, identify who your strong ties are. These are people you have known for a long time, have worked with for several years, or interact with outside of work. It is important to keep these connections “warm” by regularly engaging with them and their content. If you can master what CPC member and globally-recognized LinkedIn trainer Shelly Elsliger calls “the social art of reciprocity,” not only will you be investing in the relationship for the right reasons, but your strong ties will be looking for ways to return the favor.
Second, go through your connections and identify who your weak and dormant ties are. Weak ties are those people who you have met or interacted with at least once, but do not know very well. Dormant ties are people you were close with but have not interacted with for some time (for example, old colleagues or classmates). As long as these relationships started on a positive note, both weak and dormant ties can be incredibly valuable. Weak ties typically know a little bit about you (the good stuff!) and can serve as both bridges and ambassadors to the hidden job market; dormant ties are often eager to reconnect and help if they can, but now they have new experiences, contacts, and opportunities to share with you. Its important to reach out to both weak and dormant ties and tell them what you are trying to achieve. Do your research and be specific with your requests as simply asking for “help” can put people in an awkward situation.
Third, use various strategies to identify new contacts you would like to connect with. Ideally, you want to surround yourself with people, conversations, and content that will support progress toward your career goals. LinkedIn makes this easy with their People You May Know, People Also Viewed, Who Viewed Your Profile, LinkedIn Search, and connections of connections features, to name a few.
Lastly, build a habit of curating your contacts and subsequently your feed on a regular basis. Always be on the lookout for new and relevant contacts and feel free to remove old, non-responsive, or unsuitable connections to maintain the quality of your network.
LinkedIn is not primarily a job search site — it is a networking platform. It is important to understand the difference because how we approach others, how we interact with others, and what we expect from others on the platform is completely different than the way an online job board operates.
Online job boards are largely one-sided, impersonal, and transaction based, whereas LinkedIn is multifaceted, relational, and value based. Approaching LinkedIn like just another online job board will not produce the desired results and, in fact, may have a negative impact on your professional brand.
The most effective way to approach LinkedIn is with a give first, give often, and expect nothing in return mentality. By focusing on value — that is, creating, commenting, and engaging with content in a way that adds value to discussions, relationships, and people — you become known as a valuable professional.
The added benefit is that engagement allows you to demonstrate your professional knowledge, skills, abilities; your values, work ethic, and intrinsic motivation; your industry involvement, professional contributions, and known associates. With all this, people will have a much clearer picture of who you are, what you can do, and what opportunities would be right for you.
Ultimately, LinkedIn is about relationship building. You can’t gain the trust, respect, and favour of others if you’re not willing to put in the time, energy, and effort to earn it. While COVID-19 may have impacted the way we typically connect and cultivate relationships with others, LinkedIn still serves as an excellent first step as you look to level up your career.
Matthew Purdey, CCDP, CCS, is a career coach, facilitator, and speaker. With a combined 15 years’ experience in language training, and educational and vocational guidance, he has helped 1000+ clients including newcomers, students, and professionals understand and apply best practices in the job search process so they can search smarter, perform better, and take control of their careers. Learn more about Matt at www.foresightcareercoaching.