6 Dos and Don'ts for Networking on LinkedIn

By DeVry University

Your LinkedIn profile is the home of your personal brand. And much like a virtual business card at a 24/7 conference, you never know who it might reach.

Networking on LinkedIn is a strategic way to help establish yourself as an expert in your field while connecting with colleagues and peers who can support your professional growth. Want to make the most of this critical resource? Learn what to do – and not to do – with these six LinkedIn networking tips that can help you build meaningful relationships with your network:

1. Don't Be Too Casual.

LinkedIn is not a socializing venue – so always keep your career objectives in mind when posting or interacting. Be sure to double check that all posts, requests and comments serve your professional goals.

"Connect with the intent to add value. Don't connect casually, like on Facebook. You want to engage with your audience," advises DeVry University Senior Career Advisor Maurice Breaux. Posting and commenting on articles is a good practice, but keep in mind that about 45% of LinkedIn article readers are in upper-level positions – so be sure to choose language that's friendly, yet professional.

2. Do Add a Personal Touch.

"Approach networking with curiosity," suggests DeVry University Senior Career Advisor Renae Hall. Discover what interests you about people before sending them a connection request. Did they write an impressive article? Do you know someone who speaks highly of them? Are you living proof that their advice really works? A succinct, personalized note tends to be more memorable and increases the likelihood of a successful connection.

3. Don't Expect a One-Way Street.

Networking is more than connecting with the intent to request favors or gain recognition. It's an ongoing, mutually beneficial exchange. As DeVry University Senior Career Advisor Tamara Small suggests, "Build rapport before asking for something. It's a two-way street – what can you provide your network?" Simple gestures such as endorsing skills and writing recommendations helps cement relationships, which is the very core of networking.

4. Do Know Your Worth.

"Be sure to understand what you are bringing to the table," says DeVry University Regional Manager of Career Advising Amber Hornbeck. Don’t be shy or sell yourself short. While it may seem like a no-brainer, recognizing our own value can often be one of the most difficult networking tips to put into action.

You worked hard to develop yourself, so make sure your profile highlights all the relevant skills you’ve mastered at school or on the job. Reviewing your recommendations is a great way to add skills to your list that you may not have thought of.

5. Don't Delay.

Just as you would write a note to a recruiter after an interview, send a thank-you message to each contact who took the time to post a recommendation or endorse your skills. Then return the favor by writing a recommendation for them. Also, make sure your LinkedIn settings enable you to see when someone is trying to contact you directly so you can respond in a timely manner.

6. Do Engage Consistently.

Your LinkedIn profile will give back what you put in, so it benefits you to use it regularly. Follow key career trends and share content your connections will find valuable. Read articles and comment thoughtfully. Research and join relevant LinkedIn groups where you can connect with like-minded professionals to discuss career concerns, case studies and emerging technologies.

Networking on LinkedIn is a marathon, not a sprint, so keep a positive outlook and don’t burn yourself out. Skim your feed for interesting content and professionals, reaching out only after doing your research.

"Seek out connections where you can share your skills and area of expertise," says Hall. A targeted, consistent approach will enable you to forge and sustain meaningful connections throughout your professional career.

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