If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re missing out on key networking opportunities. With more than 200 million registered users, the platform is the world’s ultimate social network for professionals. Not to mention, it’s an amazing resource for discovering new companies, keeping track of your connections, eyeing new job prospects, meeting new people, and pursuing new ventures.
LinkedIn is a power-tool for keeping your contacts organized in one place – with minimal effort too. With minimal social investment and time commitment, you can casually keep a pulse on what’s happening in your industry and peer community.
Even recruiters say that you should make sure you’re using LinkedIn to its fullest potential. You may be on LinkedIn, but how actively do you use it? Are you dedicated to building new connections, sharing status updates, and monitoring connections?
And what about your profile?
Beyond sharing your title and company, do you actively showcase who you are by collecting recommendations, sharing feedback about others, and endorsing your peers’ skill sets? For your LinkedIn presence to truly take off, you need to invest in your personal brand and it’s in your best interest to get started right away.
The Gray Areas
As with most social media, LinkedIn is as confusing as it is powerful. You might be worried about coming off as overly aggressive or pushy when forging new connections. And if you’re updating your LinkedIn profile, could you be setting off red flags to your current employer?
Maybe – the truth is that everyone reacts to social media differently. But if you’re not putting yourself out there, you’re selling yourself short. Here are the top etiquette tips to help you navigate those pesky gray zones:
1. Know Your LinkedIn Privacy Settings
You might want to check your account settings before you go browse your boss’s profile eight times in a row. LinkedIn does have an anonymous browsing feature, but you need to opt-in to it. By default your identity is public to the people whose profiles you view. If you’re a little less than comfortable with that fact, jump into your privacy settings ASAP.
And if you’re thinking about browsing publicly? All the more power to you. Networking is LinkedIn’s core value proposition. To that end, significant lurking is inevitable. Don’t over-think it. Who knows? Maybe someone will see you, reach out, and say hi.
2. Be Smart About Your Intros
Oftentimes, job seekers and professionals are shy about tapping into their networks for intelligence and introductions. Yes, it feels weird. And yes, you should get over it.
The trick here is to be super stealthy (and just as polite) about how you reach out to your contacts.
Instead of being aggressive in requesting a referral, take a step back to ask your question nicely.
“I noticed that you’re connected to Person X at Company Y. I am thinking of applying for a job there and would love to learn more about the opportunity. Would you feel comfortable introducing us?”
When you make the ‘ask,’ move forward with zero expectations, and include an opt-out:
“If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t know her well, that’s totally okay too!”
Have faith in the fact that your peer circles want to help you and see you succeed. After all, you’d do the same for them.
3. Give if You Expect to Get
LinkedIn is a peer-driven community. If you want to see results, that means putting in the work. If you want recommendations, make sure you’re actively recommending your connections. If it’s endorsements you’re after, make sure that you’re actively giving props to others. Don’t underestimate the power of connection karma. Treat others well, and good deeds will inevitably come back to you.
4. Work those Connection Requests
Follow-up notes are thoughtful and very-much appreciated. Don’t be worried or alarmed if a recruiter or hiring manager ignores you – they’re probably just busy.
It doesn’t hurt to show extra interest in a company you love by reaching out to the recruiting team directly. If anything, the personal connection will get you on their radar. And hey, you might even get a follow-up phone call.
An inevitable area of confusion, however, is the dreaded ‘connection’ request. While some professionals welcome new requests with open arms, others can be much more sensitive and averse to strangers. Respect those boundaries, and hold off from sending connection requests unless you feel comfortable that the recipient will be receptive to it. You should also try to connect with “LION” users, or “LinkedIn Open Networkers“; these people in particular are always open to new connections.
5. Final Thoughts: Don’t Take It Personally
The top reason why your job applications and LinkedIn requests go unanswered is time. Recruiters and hiring managers are busy but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Keep your momentum going, and push forward. Keep your profile looking great, and put yourself out there. Somebody’s bound to notice.
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