2020 has put an end to the majority of face-to-face networking opportunities. Social-distancing means the quick coffee date isn’t possible anymore. The zoom date has taken its place. Thankfully, we all have access to an incredible tool that allows us to continue networking unimpeded: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is often touted as the world's largest networking event. It takes place 24h a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. This statement is so common it's almost a cliché. The thing is LinkedIn really is as powerful a networking tool as they say. That is if you know how to use it effectively. In this article, we’ll share the “5 rules of power-networking”, and teach you how to do that.
Rule 1: Connect with people you know
If you’re a first-time founder and CEO, and you’re getting started on LinkedIn, this is where it begins. By connecting with people you know, you build a solid foundation for further growth in the future. These people will include family, friends, and former colleagues.
These people will know you best. They’ll be able to speak about you as a person. They may even be able to give you some coveted recommendations. These are essential for building out a complete profile.
So how do you find these people? Check out the people you may know feature on the “My Network” tab. Here you’ll find people who went to the same school as you, or who work in similar roles and industries. You can even connect with people working in the same city.
Rule 2: Reconnect with people you used to know
Reaching out to former colleagues or schoolmates can feel difficult, if not uncomfortable. LinkedIn is an easy way to break the ice. Take a look at their profile, engage with their content, and then personalize the invite. This will show that you care enough to take that extra 5 minutes when connecting. Taking that time is more effective than firing off a generic connection request.
The personalizing of invites is a LinkedIn best practice you shouldn't skip. Do this with new connections and reconnections alike.
Rule 3: Maintain existing relationships through engagement
Existing relationships won't flourish without maintenance. This is networking-101, both online or offline. LinkedIn makes this incredibly easy to do.
Keep an eye out for birthday-reminders. Congratulate members of your network on recent job changes or promotions. Engage with their content, and share valuable professional insights and observations. You could even set monthly reminders to stay up to date. Otherwise, keep an eye on the alerts tab and you’ll be kept abreast with any important updates. Make sure you keep the conversations genuine - nobody likes a disingenuous try-hard.
Rule 4: Create the content on a regular basis
You’re engaging with your network, and providing valuable insights about their content. Now you need to give them something to do the same with. Producing content that provides value to your network is one of the core principles of power networking on LinkedIn. As a CEO, a content strategy that showcases your products and/or expertise helps you to build credibility with your network. If you’re struggling to know what to post, you can check out the Yenox guide to LinkedIn content here.
The frequency of posting is also an important factor to consider here too. Sharing daily will see you rewarded by the algorithm. More people will see your content, and engagement will be higher.
Rule 5: Ask your network for help
By connecting with people you know on LinkedIn, you’ll also begin to see content from people you don’t know. This is one of the most powerful features of LinkedIn: the ability to connect with people you’ve never met before. There are 2 ways that you can do this: through engaging with their content, or by asking your network for help.
By asking mutual connections for introductions, you can leverage the power of warm introductions. Having a member of your network introduce you to someone new increases credibility. Once you have the introduction, follow the other rules to nurture that relationship.
Remember though, asking your network for help without something in return is a quick way to use up trust. Keep this trust topped up with reciprocal engagement, and give more than you take. Give value, and you will get value back.
With much of the world transitioning to online for the foreseeable future, your networking strategy needs to change. LinkedIn is the perfect tool to ease that change if you know how to use it. Start by connecting with people you know, both new and old. Maintain those relationships by engaging with their content. Keep abreast of important updates in their professional lives. Show that you care. In return, give your network something of value to engage with, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it! Though online networking can never replace face-to-face, there’s no reason you can’t make the most of the time you have available. Follow these 5 rules, and you’ll be power-networking in no time!