How to network professionally online

LinkedIn logo

LinkedIn is renowned as the world’s largest professional social network site with over 175 million members and growing. I have often heard people say that as they are not looking for a new job, they don’t don’t take much notice of a) what their profile looks like or b) the connections they have there.

What people tend to forget is that once they have created a profile this can be found every time anyone uses Google or other search engines to search for their name. The person will without doubt click on the profile and this could be their first impression of you as a professional. It is therefore very important to keep your details up to date and ensure that what you have written portrays you in a good light. LinkedIn is an excellent way to connect you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals. It enables you to build a network through the people you already know.

LinkedIn have put together some very useful pointers to get the most out of your profile:

1. 100% complete = 100% more likely to get noticed

You can’t build connections if people don’t know you exist or see what you have to offer. Your LinkedIn profile is your online business card, your resume, and your letters of recommendation all in one. Don’t be shy: users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.

2. You’re more experienced than you think

Complete profiles are so important because the more information you provide, the more people will find reasons to connect with you. Think really broadly about all the experience you have, including volunteer work plus as a student or recent graduate any summer jobs, unpaid internships and work with student organisations. You never know what might catch someone’s eye.

3. Use your inbox

Contrary to popular belief, networking doesn’t mean reaching out to strangers. The best networks begin with those you know and trust, and then grow based on personal referrals. Start building your LinkedIn network by uploading your online address book and connecting to friends, relatives, internship colleagues, and professionals you know in the “real world.”

4. Get personal

As you build your connections on LinkedIn, always customize your connection requests with a friendly note and, if necessary, a reminder of where you met or what organization you have in common. If you’re being referred by a mutual friend, write a brief introduction of who you are and why you’d like to connect. You’ll impress people with your personal touch.

5. Join the “in” crowd

Another way to form new online relationships is to join LinkedIn Groups. You can use the ‘Group search facility to find ones that match your professional interests. Students may want to start with your university group – alumni  love to connect with students – and then find volunteer organisations or professional associations you already belong to. As a member, you can comment on discussions, find exclusive job listings, and meet people who share common interests.

6. Lend a (virtual) hand

As you build connections and group memberships, think about what you can do to support other people. Comment on a classmate’s status update, forward a job listing that fits the criteria of a friend, or write a recommendation for a summer job colleague. You’ll find that your generosity is always rewarded (and, of course, it feels really good to help someone!).

7. Update your status 

Networking is not just about who you know; it’s about who knows you. Stay on other people’s radar screens by updating your LinkedIn status. By using the LinkedIn apps to update events you are attending or books that you are reading these will auto update in your status. Connecting your blog or presentations that you’ve uploaded to Slideshare will also show.

8. Question (and answer) everything

LinkedIn’s Answers feature is a great place to seek advice from a wide variety of people all around the world. You can also show the world what you have to offer by answering people’s questions about a topic where you have some expertise. The more active you are in Answers, the more people will view your profile and want to connect with you.

9. Do your homework

Before an informational interview, a job interview, or a networking get-together, use LinkedIn to learn about the background and interests of the people you’re scheduled to meet. Access Company Pages to research organisations and their employees, and use Advanced Search to find things you have in common with people you’re meeting.

10. Now step away from the computer…

Be sure to support your online networking with real human contact. Set up phone calls, attend live events, and send snail mail notes to people you interact with on LinkedIn. Remember that online methods should supplement, not replace, in-person relationship-building.

For more information visit

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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1 Response to How to network professionally online

  1. Pingback: Your Professional Profile – Technology Enhanced Learning Blog

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