Today I ran a LinkedIn workshop with a group of fantastic students, most of whom had already had a profile ranging from 7 months to 7 years.
It just goes to show that LinkedIn has stood firmly in the midst of changing sites and platforms (who remembers MySpace and Let’s Lunch?), in fact, I’ve had an active profile since 2009! In terms of longevity, it rates second to my 12 year old Facebook account.
All the students have aspirations to enter into new and exciting fields of work and some have vast overseas experience. The common feedback from the students was that they found it difficult to communicate with employers (connections) in a meaningful and purposeful way. This parallels with some research I did with Grant Verhoeven where we found that NZ tertiary students lacked confidence in building relationships on LinkedIn. You can read more here.
Whilst it feels discouraging when you don’t hear back from a connection (or potential connection), it always pays to reflect on a few things.
- No, no, no, no, yes, no, no no, yes. There are many people on LinkedIn who are courteous and generous in replying to others, and there are even more people who simply can’t be bothered, don’t have the time and capacity to reply, or they forget. Accept that everyone may not answer (it’s their loss!), but put faith in the fact that someone else will. #persistence
- Do your research. Be selective and strategic about who you may message or connect with. Read up about their company and have a look at their profile to get a sense of their experiences (YES, it is okay to look at other people’s profiles. They are made accessible for a reason!). Find the commonalities or things that make you want to find out more. #exploration
- Consider the tone and style of your message. Is it too demanding, vague or unclear? Is it asking for too much in return? (DO NOT ask for a job from the get-go!). Always mention why you are interested in connecting with them and use proper English and grammar (no room for TXT speak here). #firstimpression
- Make sure your profile is up-to-date. Are your sections completed, do you have an appropriate photo? People are less likely to engage with you if you have no photo, or little information on your profile. #preparation
- Be interested. Create engagement by ‘liking’ and giving a ‘thumbs-up’ to a post. Also share comments and don’t be afraid to post content (think about your audience and what might appeal to them too). You could follow-up with a connection by mentioning what you like about their post or comment. #engage
- Timeliness is key. A good way to build confidence is to add people on LinkedIn after you’ve met them at an event or activity. Call it your online business card. #timeliness
Based on my experiences, I can vouch for LinkedIn being a useful tool for connecting with people for a variety of purposes. In fact, some of the most valuable insights I’ve received have been from those I’ve only met online! In a future blog I’ll give examples of these different connections.