LinkedIn Offline Professional Network Best Practices

Building Your Online and Offline Professional Network with LinkedIn

It is no secret that your personal and professional network can be a major catalyst for your personal success.

This holds especially true with things like career advancement, business development, referrals, and getting plugged into new communities. Although life gets busy, and face to face networking might take the back burner as you juggle your work and personal life, there exists a whole world of professionals online looking to connect! With 443 million users, LinkedIn is a great place to facilitate these kinds of networks. Here are a few tips on how to connect with the right people and build your online network.

Get out there and seek informational interviews

Is there a manager at a specific company you want to get in touch with? Or maybe there is a subject matter expert whose brains you would like to pick? Chances are, you can easily find them first on LinkedIn. Be sure to connect with them online with a personalized note along the lines of this:

LinkedIn connection request best practices

You’ll also want to follow up once they accept, thanking them for their connection and reinforcing your original message. Make it authentic and let your personality shine through. This is an easy way to reach people and build relationships without scaring them away with pesky sales or marketing pitches.

Best practice: Keep your message short, sweet, and to the point. Don’t send a connection request without a personalized message. If you are able to get someone on the phone, don’t expect them to lead the conversation. Be prepared!

Make friends with the LinkedIn blogging function (Pulse)

Blogging is a great way to position yourself as a subject matter expert. It allows you to share your knowledge, provide meaningful advice, and give your readers, clients, customers, or leads, a glimpse into your personality. By posting relevant content, you can reach people around the world, leaving them with a resonating message. By offering best practices, lessons learned, or industry insights, you are letting your connection know that you’re are an expert and have something to offer. This may put you on people’s radar and can create a positive first impression with someone before ever having met them!

Best practice: Make sure your blogs are authentic, offer meaningful information, create an open dialogue, and offer relatable advice. Keep it to the point and make them easy to ready, using creative headlines and easily digestible paragraphs.

Participate and engage with your connections and groups

There are endless amounts of professional groups specific to your interests and industry on LinkedIn. Take the time to join different groups and engage in conversations, post your articles, and share relevant content. By building these relationships online, you make yourself more visible to gatekeepers of possible opportunities. This is a great way to learn about industry events, new job opportunities or connect with industry-specific leaders.

Best practices: Focus on the quality of your engagement rather than the quantity. You want to be visible on people’s newsfeed without bombarding them with updates. Act as you would at a face-to-face networking event by tastefully making your presence noticed.

Turn your cold calls into friendly warm calls 

Picking up the phone to cold call someone is certainly not for the faint-hearted. However, if you can muster up the courage, you will certainly set yourself ahead of the pack. The great part about having LinkedIn is that your cold calls can easily be turned into warm calls. By taking the time to study someone’s LinkedIn profile, you can almost always find some common ground to break the ice. Are you looking to get in touch with an employee from a specific company? Want to become a conference speaker and need some advice? With a quick search and playing around with some advanced settings, you can easily find the person you are looking for on LinkedIn, along with their company name and company switchboard.

Best practices: Pick up the phone with confidence and don’t be afraid to call someone out of the blue. While some people will abruptly hang up, others will be more than happy to give you 10 minutes of their time.

Remember, all this effort is for nothing if you make amazing connections and they refer to your empty LinkedIn page. Take the time to invest in your profile and give it the TLC it deserves. Your LinkedIn page is the first place people will go to scope you out. Consider it your modern day resume and business card, but more public, and more representative of you as a professional. Keeping your professional brand updated and your LinkedIn profile optimized is the first and most important step to growing your LinkedIn Network!