If the pandemic taught us anything, it was the importance of adapting to uncertainty and maintaining nimble career plans. Incorporating LinkedIn into your career strategy can help you prepare for ongoing volatility and uncertainty.
“Strategic use of LinkedIn gives you more potential to advance your career. LinkedIn is an effective media utility that far surpasses a mere job search platform,” says Marc Joseph, Global Head of Risk Engineering for Howden Specialty. In fact, he says, it offers many opportunities to expand your professional network, enhance your technical knowledge, and gain insights into global issues. The platform also provides resources to improve your emotional intelligence and soft skills.
The August 2021 Career Connection shared advice on building an engaging LinkedIn profile, which can open the door to new professional opportunities. Once your profile is updated, however, you may be wondering how to use the platform most effectively. As executive résumé and LinkedIn profile writer Lisa Rangel points out, “It’s a Catch 22 situation. Not many professionals have several spare hours a day to spend on LinkedIn. You have to be on it to create opportunities for yourself, but probably don’t have the time or interest to spend every waking moment there.” Follow these tips to efficiently and effectively establish a LinkedIn presence and help future-proof your career.
Know why you’re there
Are you using LinkedIn to search for job opportunities or build your reputation as an industry expert? Know what you want out of LinkedIn to inform your interactions on the platform. For instance, John Gohndrone, head of JMG Process Solutions, uses the platform to promote his new consulting practice. “My goal is to demonstrate my credibility, so I provide quality information to attract people from my target audience,” he says.
Block time on your calendar
“Set aside dedicated time, such as 15 min to 30 min a few times a week, and plan specific tasks to accomplish during this time. This can help you use the platform more effectively without wasting time,” Rangel says. For instance, you can plan to accept connection invitations, post company news, or comment on others’ posts.
Build your network
Marise Textor, Manager of Regulatory Affairs for Marathon Petroleum, advises developing as wide a network of contacts as you can. “You never know how you can help someone else or how they might be able to help you, sometimes years after you first meet,” she says. LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with others. Click on the My Network tab to see your connections, as well as suggested connections provided by LinkedIn. You can also use the search function to find individuals by name, then click on the blue Connect button under their profile photo. “Connect with at least one person every day. You’ll be surprised how many people can add value to your career,” says Joseph.
Use the messaging feature
The messaging feature is particularly helpful if you do not have a contact’s email address. Reach out to LinkedIn members to start or build relationships, expand your network, or develop client or job opportunities. Initiate these conversations from the Messaging page or directly on your connection’s profile. With a paid LinkedIn subscription, you can directly message members to whom you are not connected.
Focus on adding value
“When you offer something that adds value for people, you will be recognized as someone who makes a difference,” says Alexandre Chernichenco, a project manager at Orica Mining Services. “Even if you didn’t create the content, share it with others. The authors will be happy you have shared it.” Valuable content might include industry articles, event invitations, or expert guidance and tips. In addition, like and comment on others’ posts to build goodwill and relationships.
Follow relevant companies
Following companies on LinkedIn is an easy way to tune into what industry leaders, competitors, prospective clients, or employers are doing. Use LinkedIn’s company search feature to find those most relevant to you from among the 55 million organizations with a presence on the platform. Then, click on a company’s blue Follow button to receive their updates in your LinkedIn homepage feed.
Join and participate in groups
LinkedIn’s 2.9 million groups include industry and interest communities, company and university alumni groups, and professional associations. “By joining a group, your exposure will increase and LinkedIn will make suggestions for connections from among other group members,” says Joseph. You can further engage with members by posting relevant articles to the group and commenting on others’ posts.
Take a LinkedIn course
LinkedIn Learning, a paid feature, enables you to build high-demand skills such as hybrid project management, change management, or information security. Access these courses by clicking the Work tab on your LinkedIn homepage, then clicking the Learning icon.
Be professional at all times
“Do not sling mud at anyone or anything and never burn a bridge. Don’t post on personal matters. Avoid posting political or religious opinions, unless they are directly related to your work,” says Textor.
This article originally appeared in the Career Connection column in the October 2021 issue of CEP. Members have access online to complete issues, including a vast, searchable archive of back-issues found at www.aiche.org/cep.