Jay Denhart-Lillard
Jay Denhart-Lillard 29 December 2015

Critical Decisions: Choosing The Right Networking Platform (And Getting Started)

Should I network in LinkedIn, when I already know my colleagues and have friends on Facebook? Find out how to start.

Should I network in LinkedIn, when I already know my colleagues and have friends on Facebook?


The concept of networking on LinkedIn has emerged as a powerful personal branding tool for everyone, not just sales professionals. This concept not only amplifies your number of connections, but if done correctly it can help build your brand across the entire social space.  Networking today, therefore, is not only a gateway leading to jobs and new opportunities, but can also help you to create powerful and productive relationships for the future.


And these relationships are directly related to how people perceive you as a brand. Your profile page, community involvement, information shared, and published articles contribute to the creation of your LinkedIn image. What started out as a resume sharing portal has now become one of the world’s most powerful business networking tools. Over time, LinkedIn has emerged as the most popular social media platform with over 380 million members.


And there are some benefits that are unique to LinkedIn – like the professional focus it brings, the control over contact information it has, and the ability you have to download your contacts.  (Disclaimer – any of these benefits could go away overnight, however, as LinkedIn remains fully in control of how their platform can be used.)


Everybody wants to grow their network and connect to new people. You may add people whom you know and can get introduced to new people from your existing connections. Or you can reach out directly to new people – more on this in a minute.


So – sure, you probably will want to use LinkedIn for you professional connections. But the next question is “How?”


So should I accept everyone who tries to contact me on LinkedIn?


Few weeks back, I got an invitation from a ‘Marketing Evangelist’ with a personal note in the invitation. The note said- “Hi, you and I are in the same role and I would like to discuss a business opportunity with you.” I was initially not sure whether to accept the invitation or not. I was curious about the opportunity but at the same time was not sure if I should accept the invitation. After looking at their profile, I didn’t even agree that we were in the same roles in our organizations.


In order to develop a strong network, should you start accepting invites from unknown people? How can you know whether the person is genuine or not? How can one know about the ultimate motive behind getting connected? Will accepting all invitations that come your way help you to build a powerful network of like-minded people? What should be the objective and strategy to network on LinkedIn? I ended up ignoring the request from the stranger on LinkedIn, since the invitation was unsolicited and I didn’t discover any way that we could be helpful to each other. But your experience may differ. The important thing is to have a strategy that makes sense for you and stick with it.


Reaching out to people outside your network via a network connection or introduction is a somewhat new trend – but already there are experts like Mike O’Neil and Ronan Keane who are teaching people how to use this new channel productively. LinkedIn has reported that sales professionals that utilize their platform for selling can achieve 16% gains in year-over-year revenue.


However one of the key concerns that exist in LinkedIn, unlike any other social media page is that people are still skeptical towards adding new connections. The social world remains similar to the real world, where people still are not comfortable sharing personal information with everyone and always think before adding an unknown person— more isn’t always better.


But selling isn’t the only reason why people network online. Networking can land you to a new job opportunity or even establish a new platform to start a new venture. So having a focused reason for why you want to build a strong network is important.


Here are a few key strategies to consider when building your network


The more first-level connections you have, the more people that you can connect with who are actually outside your network. To build this strong web of first-level connections, you can start by connecting with people from your school, college, and job.  If you are not an extrovert and do not naturally form a lot of bonds with numerous people, then make sure that every time you meet someone whom you would like to add in your network, that you send them a quick invite.


Accepting invitations from genuine sources could land you to your next dream job or provide you the business opportunity of the lifetime. So make sure that you have a new connection every week. The person can be from your industry, from your interest area or someone who is actively involved in any of the groups. Also, connecting with alumni who may be working in your dream company might help you getting the right industry break. So don’t leave those people out!


There is no harm in growing your network if you seek clarification before getting connected and are making meaningful connections.


The real work on networking does not end after you have created a strong profile and gotten connected to the right people. You then have to participate – to join the right groups and involve yourself in conversations, polls and views shared in the groups. By joining groups of your interest and interacting with like-minded people, you can unlock the possibility of getting invitations from people from the broader network. The blogging platform of LinkedIn is one simple way to stay in touch with your connections and network. So start liking, sharing, and commenting on content posted on your LinkedIn Pulse.


While sharing a post or commenting on them, you should always speak from the heart and don’t just blindly agree with the influencers in the conversation. This method will help you to craft your voice, and create a unique brand identity. LinkedIn is different from other social media sites in that people generally only want to see professional content and not random funny posts or quiz questions. So your content should be informative and helpful enough to influence your network and attract more like-minded people to want to connect with you. Since 2013, over 1 million unique publishers have successfully posted on LinkedIn and 40 percent of the readers of these posts are leaders in their industries including VPs and Managers.


Another way to stay connected with your network is to reach out to them on special events, such as their birthdays, new jobs, promotions, accolades and other achievements. Remember that they are professionals, but people too!


The art of networking on LinkedIn continues to evolve — it is a place where people participate in mutual sharing and publishing useful content, and are therefore rewarded with broader and more active networks. Some people focus on consistently recommending connections for jobs and opportunities for others, and they get the benefit of increased credibility and authority that contributes to their own individual brand.


But hey, if you still think that networking on LinkedIn doesn’t add much value for you, then please respond to this post, and let’s explore and connect together – maybe you know a few things I need to learn!


Original Article


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