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Networking 2.0: Leveraging LinkedIn for Meaningful Connections

Networking 2.0: Leveraging LinkedIn for Meaningful Connections

So confession time, I’m a raging introvert. Networking receptions were never comfortable for me and often left me feeling overwhelmed and tongue-tied. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the theatre….

I discovered LinkedIn and its powerful tools to help you break the proverbial ice so that networking isn’t as scary and daunting! LinkedIn can help you forge meaningful connections that transcend the online realm and break the ice when you finally meet in person. So grab your favorite caffeinated beverage, put on your networking hat, and let’s get started!

Why network using LinkedIn?

  1. It’s the Professional Facebook:

LinkedIn is like Facebook’s smarter, more career-oriented sibling. It’s a hub for professionals to showcase their expertise, connect with like-minded individuals, and, of course, browse impressive profile pictures that scream, “I’m serious about business… and selfie angles.”

  1. It Helps Break the Ice with Familiarity:

Ah, the joy of LinkedIn. When you connect with someone on this platform, it’s like secretly peering into their professional soul. You can discover common interests, mutual connections, and all the glorious endorsements that make you go, “Wow, Susan is a master of Excel AND team building? I’m sold!”

Before you start growing your networking with “just anyone”, there are some great places on the platform where you can tailor your search to the relevant connections you crave – check out these places!

  1. Alumni Networks:

Your alma mater is not just a place for fond memories and questionable fashion choices. It’s also a treasure trove of potential connections! Join LinkedIn groups specific to your university or college and start networking with fellow alumni. Remember, shared experiences can be a powerful bonding tool. Go forth and conquer that alumni network like a champ!

  1. Industry-Specific Groups:

LinkedIn groups dedicated to your industry are like the watering holes of networking. Join relevant groups where professionals gather to discuss trends, share insights, and debate whether “Reply All” is the ultimate sin. Engage in discussions, offer valuable contributions, and connect with individuals who catch your attention. Who knows? Your next big client might just be one group post away.

  1. Company Pages:

If you’re targeting specific companies or industries, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn’s company pages. Follow the pages of your dream clients or prospects, stay updated on their latest news, and engage with their content. This shows genuine interest and might help you establish connections with employees or decision-makers within the organization. Just be careful not to come across as a stalker. We’re going for networking, not restraining orders.

  1. Events and Conferences:

LinkedIn isn’t just a digital platform; it’s also a gateway to real-life networking opportunities. Keep an eye out for industry events and conferences, and search for relevant hashtags to find professionals attending these gatherings. Connect with them on LinkedIn before the event, so you can break the ice in person with a handy “Hey, I saw we’re both attending the XYZ conference. Let’s grab a coffee and talk about how to survive endless PowerPoint presentations!”

  1. Advanced Search:

LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature is your secret weapon for finding specific contacts. Need a marketing manager in your city who loves cats and has a knack for designing eye-catching graphics? Well, maybe that’s a bit too specific, but you get the idea. Use filters like location, industry, job title, and keywords to narrow down your search and find the perfect prospects or clients who align with your interests or business objectives.

Knowing how LinkedIn can help move you from event wallflower to networking super-hero, we need to know how to use the platform’s powerful features. Here are some of the best tips for increasing and influencing your growing network on the platform:

  1. Tailor Your Connection Requests:

LinkedIn is not a race to see who can amass the highest number of connections. It’s about quality, not quantity (unless you’re in a “Most Connections” competition, in which case, go for it!). When sending connection requests, take a moment to personalize your message. Show genuine interest, mention commonalities, and resist the urge to copy-paste the same generic message to every poor soul on your list.

  1. Be a Content Connoisseur:

Sharing valuable content on LinkedIn is like making a delicious potluck dish for your network. It showcases your expertise, sparks meaningful conversations, and attracts the attention of potential clients and prospects. Just remember, if your posts start getting more likes than your cat photos on Instagram, you’re doing something right.

  1. Engage, Engage, Engage:

Let’s face it—everyone loves a little ego boost. So, when you stumble upon a captivating post or an insightful article, don’t be a silent admirer. Comment, like, and share your thoughts. Show the LinkedIn universe that you exist and have something valuable to say. Who knows? Your witty comment might be the icebreaker that leads to a conversation with that elusive client you’ve been eyeing.

  1. Master the Art of the DM:

The untapped opportunity – the ability to send a direct message to someone you desperately want to connect with. But beware: DM’s (and paid Inmail credits)l can be a double-edged sword. Craft your message carefully, avoiding clichés like “I saw your profile and couldn’t resist reaching out.” Instead, opt for a personalized approach that reflects a genuine interest in their work. And remember, if they don’t respond, don’t sweat it! Move on, and keep spreading your networking magic.

 

LinkedIn is the gift that keeps on giving. It empowers you to build a network of invaluable connections, make your mark in the professional world, and even get inspired by the countless success stories of others. Remember, networking is not just about expanding your contact list but about creating meaningful relationships. Find new connections, nurture them, and create life-long fans with your selfless giving.  Happy connecting, everyone!

Follow Leanne on LinkedIn

 

 

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