Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Business Network

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

In a nutshell, the power of LinkedIn is that it shows you who you know who “knows someone.” That idea was introduced by Michele Jennae of The Conncectworker, who wrote that “The power of a network can be reduced to its simplest form in 'I know someone who knows someone who knows someone,’” and it couldn’t be truer with today’s tools.

If you're not already a member of LinkedIn, it's critical that you learn how to use this powerful networking tool for a variety of reasons:

  • Your LinkedIn profile will usually show up at the top of search engine results. If you're trying to build your personal brand, LinkedIn will be the best way to broadcast your skills and abilities to the professional world. In a world where being on the “front page” of Google is critical, LinkedIn is a great way to get you there.
     
  • LinkedIn is pervasive. Estimates put the number of users over 300 million, making LinkedIn the largest network for professionals. For people researching potential employees, employers, or colleagues, LinkedIn is often the first place they turn. 
     
  • LinkedIn has many valuable resources for professionals. If you're just getting started, you should check out all of the professional groups on LinkedIn. You can ask questions and participate in discussions on almost any career topic or field. And, once you start using LinkedIn, even more options become available. Custom job recommendations and connections are suggested based on your individual experience and network connections. 
     
  • It really is a network. When you do it right, you can use LinkedIn just like you would use a face-to-face network. If there's a job you're trying to land, LinkedIn can tell you who you already know that works at the company. If you don't know anyone who works there, LinkedIn will let you know who you know that does. 
     
  • You can stay up-to-date on your chosen field. Regardless of your chosen field, you can find thought leaders who are sharing their thoughts regularly on LinkedIn. Subscribing to the feeds of chosen experts can provide invaluable advice and ideas for improving your results. 
     
  • LinkedIn makes managing your network “manageable.” Over the course of your career, it becomes impossible to keep up on “who went where.” If you have a great manager who leaves your company, you'll always be able to get back in touch if you're both on LinkedIn. For people who work in larger organizations, keeping track of where all your co-workers went is critical to knowing where you might have an “in.” 

More people find jobs through their connections than through posting blindly or blanketing companies with resumes. If you haven't yet, get a LinkedIn profile and start building your online person, and if you have, be sure you're taking advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer.

Don't just connect to people, but connect to companies you're interested in as well (you can find the Midland MBA on LinkedIn—we’d love to connect). Also, join some professional groups and participate. The more work you put in to LinkedIn, the more it will work for you. 

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photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc

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