Are you active on LinkedIn?
If not, why?
What comes to mind when you hear about it? That it’s just for business people? Only people looking for jobs use it? Isn’t it just a giant resume?
It’s true. LinkedIn is primarily focused on reaching the professional world. It’s the largest professional network in the world, tipping the scales at 313 million members in over 200 countries. Is LinkedIn targeted toward job-seekers? It can be. But it’s also an efficient and effective way to keep track of and expand your professional network.
Why should a Christian care about digital networking, or networking at all?
I know many women, and Christian women especially, who struggle with the idea of networking. The research bears this out, showing that women, more than men, tend to see traditional “networking” activities as insincere or as “dirty” gamesmanship. But “who you know” and what you know about them are important parts of the business world.
We look at networking, not as a “sneaky” way to get ahead, but as an integral part of the job. If God has called you to be in the work place, then you should do that work “heartily” (Colossians 3:23), to the very best of your ability. And in 1 Peter 4:10, we’re directed to use whatever gifts and resources we have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace. When you expand your professional network, you also expand your potential sphere of influence for Christ. It can help you to better serve your clients, and to better represent your company. It can help you build personal connections, and provide opportunities to support and encourage and care for the people your life touches.
Networking is a good thing, and digital networking can be a big part of that.
Here’s why you should be on LinkedIn, and using it, at least once a week.
No better way to cyberstalk your new contact.
No one likes to go into a situation unprepared. That same principle is especially true for business. When you’re meeting with someone new, whether to discuss partnerships, a job interview, or just to put a face to a new name, that first meeting will always play out more favorably if you’ve “done your homework.”
Using LinkedIn, you can do some preliminary “digging” to learn more about the person or people with which you’re meeting. A quick browse through their LinkedIn profile will give you an idea of where that person attended school, has worked, any skills or endorsements they have, and maybe most importantly, which connections you share. Depending on who your connection is, you might be able to gain advice or additional background on your new contact from people you know who also happen to know him or her. Call or text your friend before the meeting and get some scoop on where the person likes to lunch, their communication style, do they dress business attire always, and other tips to help make a great first impression.
In fact, we have seen that even if you think you already know someone, by going into “Sherlock mode,” you might discover new information or connections between you and your contact that will take your business relationship to a whole new level. And by having “done your homework,” your contact will likely leave your meeting impressed at your dedication and knowledge.
Don’t have a website? LinkedIn to the rescue!
In many industries, having a web presence is essentially mandatory today. You can’t expect customers or clients to take you seriously if you don’t have a website that they can use to find out more about you, your company and what you have to offer. While there are a wide variety of options available, building and maintaining a website is definitely an expense.
If you’re not ready for your own website, you can use LinkedIn to provide an accessible web presence, for individuals and even corporations.
For individuals, a basic LinkedIn profile gives you concentrated access to co-workers, colleagues, and even future opportunities. Like other social networks, you can post updates, articles, and pictures/videos to share. Using the site’s search tools, you can find and connect with current co-workers and clients, as well as discover other users in your industry or field that you can network with.
You can list skills you are proficient in and then your connections can endorse you regarding those skills. This is an effective way to position yourself as an industry expert, as well as open up doors for yourself with companies who may be looking for someone with a skill set like yours.
There’s even a content publishing feature that allows users to post their own original articles. This not only helps further establish you as an industry expert, but it opens you up to even more LinkedIn users which will help you grow your network.
You can create pages for Companies too, with many of the same features.
A new way to network
Anyone in business knows how important networking is, not just for career and business opportunities but also for gleaning industry news and staying connected to your field’s growth. However, a lot of people find networking tedious and/or stressful and often find an excuse to never do it.
With LinkedIn, you can build your network and engage with other users working in your industry without having to attend awkward lunches or after-hours events. As you connect with other users on LinkedIn, you will find your “pool” of connections growing to include others in your industry or people connected to those you follow on LinkedIn.
You can choose (through the “Connections” tab) to have LinkedIn keep you informed about the LinkedIn lives of your contacts, enabling you to offer congratulations on a recent promotion, or to provide leads to someone who might be job-hunting.
The more information you share on your profile, the more industry-specific you will find your feed becoming. Articles and updates pertaining to either your skill set or industry will be filtered through to your feed, giving you concentrated access to news and events that you might otherwise have never seen.
If it’s time for you to start looking for a new job, LinkedIn offers tools (in the “Jobs” tab) to help you search. You can search job listings by location, company size, or industry. You can also save jobs you’re interested in, save certain job searches and have LinkedIn alert you when new openings that meet your criteria appear. You can also look for jobs available within your network, and post a job opening that you or your company need filled.
As you can see, LinkedIn is much more than an online resume. If you’re smart about your approach and dedicate the time to research and see how you or your company can benefit from using it, LinkedIn just might be your key to seeing your career or company grow this year.