LinkedIn now plays a critical role in getting hired. When you apply to jobs, they are very likely to check out your LinkedIn profile, and some recruiters are now searching LinkedIn to try to find potential applicants.
At its core, LinkedIn is a networking tool – a way to make sure that you keep track of your professional connections, so that you can use them to find new careers, get recommendations and endorsements, and more. But growing your network is not as simple as adding the people you’ve worked with. There are some rules you need to follow in order to make sure your network works for you.
Five Networking Rules You Need to Follow on LinkedIn:
1. Don’t Add Everyone – But Add Almost Everyone
There is a tendency to add everyone you’ve ever met on LinkedIn. It’s not that bad a tendency – after all, a network is made up of all of the people that you have met in your personal and private life.
But it’s bad form to add people you have no connection to anymore – people that you have lost touch with, no longer like, or have no intention of ever contacting. If you both barely remember each other and have little to gain from connecting, it is best to avoid adding them.
2. Send a Personal Message on All Contacts (Especially Cold Contacts)
One of the top rules for a better LinkedIn network is that everyone you contact receives a personal message. This is ESPECIALLY true of cold contacts (people you contact that are not familiar with you), but should also be true of everyone you add – from those you know well, to those you only know a little bit.
Personal messages help make sure that people feel like they’re really a value to you, and will make sure that they recognize and remember you in their network.
3. Stay Active with All Contacts
If you decided they were worth adding, then you should also stay active with them. That means commenting on anything interesting that they post with a thoughtful comment, congratulating them on new jobs, and making sure they know that no matter how you’re connected in real life, on LinkedIn you’re close.
4. Networking Goes Both Ways
There’s a tendency to add everyone you can on LinkedIn, and then hope that they help you get a new job or give you endorsements. But networking is a two way street. If you have a way to help someone on your network, you should help them. Many will return the favor by assisting you as well.
5. Don’t Spam Your Network
The larger your network, the more you have to be sensitive to over-posting. You don’t want to irritate everyone in your network by posting too frequently and spamming their LinkedIn feed. Be very sensitive about what you post, posting only the best links and thoughts and allowing your feed time to breathe once in a while.
Make the Most of Your LinkedIn
Your LinkedIn network is a potential source for your next career. But long before you can get that career, you have to make sure you build your network. The above tips help ensure that you’re building your network “the right way” – in a way that will give you the most impact, without breaking any rules.