My story begins with the LinkedIn workshop, the one that I went to. It started with information on how to log in to LinkedIn and then it continued with how to build a profile and how to connect with other people. This information is very important, especially for people for whom computer and internet are a new territory. However this is not what I am about to discuss, my post is for those interested in understanding what is to do on LinkedIn after the log in process and after the profile is complete.
This is where opinions start to vary greatly, some suggest to start adding people you know and people that you do not know, some want to invite people for coffee, some for an informational interview. Some do nothing, they just log in and look at profiles of other members. I can't tell you what to do but I can give you my perspective on it, which I hope will be of some use.
First: you must start with a goal and a purpose. What is your goal and what is the purpose of spending time on LinkedIn for you? Possible goals:
- to join groups that discuss a topic of particular interest
- to take part in discussions
- to find local networking events (the ones that could be attended online or in person)
- to find local nonprofit organizations that specialize in your field of work
- to find out what kind of companies exist in the area
- to find out what companies are hiring and for which positions
- to find out whom to contact in a particular company for a specific need
- to find a job
- to find a business partner
- to find an employee
These are just some of the goals that might be of interest to you, I am sure the list is much longer. I suggest you take a little time to think about what is that interests you, what do you need on LinkedIn?
Second: Remember that people on LinkedIn are professionals that are usually busy. If your goal is to connect with as many people as possible than it can happen, but what is the point? It is important to build quality connections. Quality connections, could be build in two ways. By connecting with people whom you actually met in life, or through introduction by people who know you well. How to do it?
1. Go to a networking event, meet people face to face, ask to connect on LinkedIn, follow-up and connect.
2. Become a member or a volunteer of a non-profit organization or a chapter. If you are an HR professional join HR Professionals Organization, if you are an IT Professional join an IT Professionals organization in your area. Go to the meetings, take part, get involved. You will meet people who will gladly connect with you on LinkedIn and who will be glad to offer business referrals, or information about open jobs.
The key to success on LinkedIn is the communication offline. For every rule there are exceptions. So take my suggestions and create a strategy of your own.
On Meetup.com you go online to get offline, on LinkedIn you meet in person to connect online.
And remember, it takes time to build a network, it takes effort and persistency.
So get offline, get involved, and come back online to connect the missing part of the puzzle!