Networking 101: The Importance of LinkedIn
While there are definite negatives to the immergence of social media in our daily lives, the positives are overwhelming. From new reports to constant networking, the internet has provided us with enough resources to start an entire company right from the comfort of our own home.
LinkedIn, one of our generation’s most useful resources, is a phenomenal tool for networking. If you have not taken advantage of this site as of yet, we encourage you to do so. Utilize its features because it could essentially land you the job of your dreams.
As a millennial in the professional world, it is in your best interest to not only have a LinkedIn account, but to understand the pros and cons of the site and the facts about networking. Lucky for you, we have offered some tips for networking as well creating the ideal profile for your employer.
You may think networking is just shaking hands and passing out business cards, but it is a much more extensive process. Networking is about selling your brand and making a notable impression. Before delving into the realm of networking, know what you’re going to say, who you’re going to say it to, and how you’re going to say it. This is essentially one of the most important pieces of advice when attending a networking event. Preparation is key. Have your short, but powerful, speech ready when in the presence of potential employers. This speech should include your career goals, (short and long term) as well as how you can be of help to their individual company.
Employers see potential every day, in order to stand out you must show them something more. Representatives will relish in your genuine interest in their company. Ask questions, and show a passion for what you do as well as what they do within their field. PongoResume.com suggests researching these three components before speaking to industry executives and representatives:
a) The top 3 companies in the industry (It’s always helpful to know the competitors)
b) The company’s strengths and weaknesses
c) The company’s vision and values
d) Industry trends (social, economic, etc.)
This shows a true passion for the industry you plan on being a part of, and that you are dedicated, employers respect that. After doing all this, they will have no choice but to remember you and will hopefully offer you a connection or a position. If not, never blatantly ask about a job. If they are interested in you, they will say it.
A networking introduction is not like a date. There is no three day rule, or risk of seeming too eager. If you were lucky enough to gain a contact, use it. Do not wait until the person has forgotten you to send a follow up email. Immediately following the event, send an email to everyone you can. Whether or not you made a strong connect is irrelevant. At least say thank you. The more people you know, the better.
This is a great way to meet potential employers as well as business partners. You may be opportune enough to meet a person on the same path as you who can be the support, or help, that you need.
Before reaching out to all these people, check your website and social media accounts to make sure everything is running, relevant, and reputable. This is important, because although you have already made an influential first introduction, you now need your work to make a strong impression as well.
LinkedIn is one of this generation’s most useful tools for networking and creating practical connections. However, if used incorrectly, it could potentially be a sincere downfall in your networking attempts.
Before you start reaching out and creating connections, handle your profile with care. You never know who might be looking at it so make sure it showcases you in the best light possible.
Choose a professional looking headshot as your profile photo; not a selfie from your birthday party, or picture taken from the side. In Forbes’ list of “22 LinkedIn Secrets LinkedIn Won’t Tell You,” they explain that this is not the website for a “casual snapshot.” Take your time with this picture and make sure it has great lighting, angles, etc. Just because it got a lot of likes on Instagram does not mean it is welcome on LinkedIn.
Utilize the headline option. Use commanding words to attract potential employers and describe what it is that you do as well as what you are looking for. This professional social networking site also allows you to change your status and update your connections with what you are doing. Take time to keep your associates posted on your productivity. This allows them to consistently see you on their homepage, which is a great thing.
Use this platform to reach out tremendously. Social Media Today suggests joining and participating in groups. Unlike Facebook, these groups are only beneficial if you are active within the group. Connect with the members and provide feedback. This is a great way to make friends in your field as well as employers.
Before clicking “connect” on everybody’s profile, make sure yours is up to par. People are going to look at it to make the decision if they want to connect with you or not.
What Not to Do
LinkedIn expert, Joshua Jordison, explains to MiLLENNiAL that LinkedIn is not simply a digital resume. “Think of it as a place to share your past accomplishments, current projects and future prospects. Also, don’t be afraid to share your mistakes. If your profile makes you out to be a perfect person, people will see through that.” This is not a website for you to tell people about yourself, it’s for you to show them and essentially create a genuine relationship.
He also says it’s a big no-no to spam other’s accounts and request that they do something for you. This is not a site for favors, it is a place to cultivate extensive associations within your field. Remember that.
Networking is uber important when it comes to finding a career these days. It is no longer what you know, but who you know. If you don’t take the time to utilize opportunities and resources like LinkedIn, then you might get left behind. Gain a powerful network and you’re sure to be successful.
Freelance writer. ECU Alum. NYC. Unprecedented.