How I use LinkedIn
To build a network with mutual benefits
LinkedIn is billed as a 'professional networking' online service and each user uses it differently. This short article outlines how I use LinkedIn to build a quality network of contacts.
LinkedIn is not Facebook
LinkedIn is not Facebook and I don't use it as such. To me LinkedIn is more of a virtual rolodex: a list of contacts that I have worked with at some point in my career and whom I am happy to keep in touch with. People at all levels of a company. The managers that control projects and budgets and that are more likely to hire you back, and the workers that are more likely to let you know about upcoming work that may require your skillset, or they may even move to another company and recommend your services to their new employer.
Recruiters use LinkedIn as a tool to search for candidates for their clients. Some are lazy and just do keyword searches and then spam you with job specs that are rarely a match to your skillset. I just ignore their requests and sometimes even hit the "I do not know this person" button, which adds a flag to their account as a possible spammer, although it probably won't affect premium users. Where a recruiter's connection request is of interest I will connect but if I have not heard anything from them for a few days I will remove them as a connection. Remember this is not Facebook, I don't really know that person so I feel nothing in removing them from my 'virtual rolodex'. It's just a way of me keeping the quality of my own network high. I have no time for time wasters or LinkedIn leeches (people that have no interest in you, only access to your network).
Where I have been connected to a recruiter for some period of time (usually 3-6 months) and I have not heard from them since the initial connection conversation, I'll reach out to them to see what's new whilst also reading their profile. The recruitment industry tends to have a high turnover of staff so chances are they have changed roles since we were last in contact. If they do not respond within a week or their profile has changed to say they now work in a role that is no longer relevant to what I do i.e. different industry, location or job types, then I remove them as a connection. Again it is not personal, LinkedIn to me is just a networking tool and I constantly refine my virtual connections list for quality.
Staying in touch
I keep in touch with every member within my network at least once every 6-months if not more often. Every connection in my network has heard from me within the last year at least once. These are people that at one time or another I worked with daily, had coffee with and worked closely with (Those that become good friends tend to also connect via Facebook). If they do not respond to at least three contact attempts over the period of a year and I have no other way of reaching them then I will assume that they no longer use LinkedIn or wish to keep in touch. I will then remove them as a connection. They can always connect back at which point I will open a dialogue with them. If I receive no response other than the connection request I remove and ignore.
Every 3-6 months I'll reach out to each connection with a simple message, just asking how they are and what they are up to these days. I am not looking for a job or leads, I'm just genuinely reaching out to see how they are. Often I end up helping them with something. I'm not one of these people with 500-plus connections but could not tell you anything about every one of them. These are people that I have worked with or know from networking events and have kept in touch with. My aim is to create a quality network of connections that can help each other.
I don't do much promotion via LinkedIn. I'm not one of these "look at me, look how amazing I am" people tbh. I'll help my connections promote events and their business if requested but my posts tend to be about an article I've written or talk I'm doing that I think might be of interest to my network. I am not going to post how great the services I provide are. I am going to let my network do that for me by word of mouth by just being good at what I do.
I have helped with recruitment and conducted a fair few interviews over the years and I find CVs to be dry boring documents, so with LinkedIn I like to have a little fun. My profile states exactly what I do and provide and does not use business-speak or power words. The skills and experience section is refined from an SEO-like perspective because I know recruiters use keyword searching to find candidates so I remove anything that I no longer do or that I do not want to do in future so that I do not match against the wrong keywords. Unfortunately that still does not eliminate all recruiter spam.
A virtual CV
I tend to find that most people hate writing CVs, trying to remember what they did a year or more ago and what they achieved. With LinkedIn you can keep your virtual CV up-to-date in real-time. You can add any new skills and experience acquired in your current job to your LinkedIn profile so you don't forget later. When it comes to a point in time when you need a CV you can either get LinkedIn to generate one from your profile to edit or you can use your LinkedIn profile as a template from which to write a CV yourself.
LinkedIn is a great way for mapping out companies that might hire someone with your skillset based on location, industry, projects and connections. Plus the better your network the more likely you are to have a connection that can make an introduction for you that will get you a foot in the door, or in the worse case another connection for your network.
LinkedIn is just another tool that you can use to help your career. Hopefully you found this article helpful. Feel free to drop me an email if you have any feedback regarding this article.
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Article last updated date: 21st October 2020