With 225 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is a powerful networking web site for people in professional occupations. Its membership grows by an astounding two new members per second.

How can you best utilize LinkedIn to build your professional identity, seek out job opportunities and advance your career?

It’s all about building the right list of connections. Not necessarily the longest list – but the best one.

Make it Work for You
Clearly, LinkedIn can be a key component in your career tool kit. Forbes recently called LinkedIn “the most advantageous social networking tool available to job seekers and business professionals today.”

When considering who you’ll invite to join your LinkedIn network:

  • Be strategic: Don’t just connect with anyone and everyone you know, but rather build your contact base with those who will be able to help you – and vice versa.
  • Link to people similar to you: A good barometer for determining who to invite is the “favor test.” Ask yourself if you would do a favor for this person or ask a favor of them. If so, make the connection. By consistently applying this principle, you’ll establish a network that’s useful and efficient in supporting your professional goals.
  • Drop names. Start with your own friends and colleagues as you solidify your first-degree LinkedIn connections. Then, build your network from there.

Finding Connections
A good place to find potential LinkedIn connections is right there, on LinkedIn:

  • Go to members’ profile pages and click Connect. And by the way, make sure to keep your own profile complete and up to date.
  • Use the Add Connections page to search your email address book for invitees.
  • Find people you may know on the LinkedIn page of the same name. Click Connect next to a person’s name and use the pencil icon to add a note.

The Best LinkedIn Invitation
You can send up to 3,000 LinkedIn invitations, but think of it like you would a party guest list. You want to include people you like, people who like you, and friends, colleagues and associates with whom you have a mutually beneficial relationship. So opt for quality over quantity.

When sending a LinkedIn invitation:

  • Customize it. Avoid using the standard invitation format provided on the site. Instead, write a personalized note explaining why you want to connect.
  • Introduce yourself. Remind the invitee how you know each other. If the connection is an obvious one, make it personal anyway. Successful networking is based on reaching out to others on a one-to-one basis.
  • Emphasize the benefits of connecting. Note how being part of a common network can benefit both yourself and the invitee. This can be a simple statement such as, “I enjoyed working with you on the recent community center fund raiser. Let me know if I can help further.”
  • Follow up. If your invitation hasn’t been accepted after three to four weeks, send one more request. After that, it’s probably best to stop. Some people prefer to keep only a small list of close contacts.

When used strategically, LinkedIn can live up to its name and keep you connected as you promote your personal brand and value. To learn more about this and related career path tactics, contact the expert team at Alternative Staffing today.



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