As well as helping you raise your professional visibility by assisting you establish your online reputation and personal brand, LinkedIn is a very powerful research tool which can be used as part of your job hunting and career planning strategy.
Who to connect with?
In terms of your career development, when it comes to using a professional networking platform like LinkedIn, you need to ask yourself: does quality trump quantity?
The quality of your connections will impact your professional credibility so it does pay to be selective. Connecting to people who can reflect your professional identity is important.
Having 500+ contacts will work for you if are a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) because you want to use LinkedIn to grow your business, to appear more often in search results, to get more traffic to your website, use status updates to promote yourself, cultivate greater reach or find potential customers or job candidates.
6 key questions to ask yourself
Before connecting ask yourself these 5 questions:
1.What kind of network do I need ?
2. Assess potential connection's profiles -why do I want to connect with them or they want to connect with me?
3. How can I help this person?
4. Could I recommend this person to others in my network?
5.If I met them in real life, could I have a conversation with them?
6.Where does my network need strengthening?
Get a sense of what your network currently looks like and what you would want it to look like.
Your online networking career strategy
As someone who wants to career map, by reverse planning your strategy, you can connect with people who work in the sector and jobs you aspire to and reach out for insight. So, before you decide to start networking, think carefully about who you want your audience to be and the message you want to send them.
LinkedIn can help you get a sense of the skills you need to showcase or develop to progress along your chosen career journey. It can help you see what thought leaders in your field are sharing so you can enhance your commercial awareness and follow what is topical and trending in your industry. You can follow inspiring people and organisations, and join groups and forums relevant to your sector. You can join in conversations, start conversations raising your own professional visibility by posting, publishing and commenting. All this builds your personal brand.
I will be looking at how to ensure your profile is up to scratch and tips for crafting your headline and summary in a future blog post but think it is important to start thinking about LinkedIn now as a key part of your employability toolkit.
Online to offline
Remember for a really meaningful LinkedIn connection as opposed to just a numerical contact , move the connection from online to offline; this means moving it forward to a phone call, a skype call or a chat over a coffee-this is what can help build lasting relationships.
The key is using LInkedIn well is to know your audience and your message and then to be valuable, be vocal and be visible.