Navigating your job search: Networking on LinkedIn

Over 87% of corporate communications professionals haven’t been active on LinkedIn for over 30 days. Don't be like them. Nurture your LinkedIn network.

Navigating your job search: Networking on LinkedIn

Looking for a new role is challenging at the best of times. But during a pandemic, how do you stand out from the crowd in such a competitive field?

In our last blog we looked at perfecting your CV. In this article we are going to dive into networking during a pandemic – specifically how to get the most out of online networking.

Why bother?

The majority of job seekers will get their next job through a referral by someone in their network. Whether you’re currently actively looking for a new position or thinking ahead to your next big move, keeping in touch with your network is an essential part of your professional development.

Networking during a pandemic

At the time of writing, the UK is in lockdown. The opportunities to catch up over coffee or meet new people at industry events are either on hold or have gone online. With location no longer being a barrier, virtual networking is open to everyone and is a great leveller. Organisations like the IoIC and CIPR have taken their events online and provide valuable content as well as opportunities to virtually meet with peers.

You don’t need us to tell you how important social media is. Most of you are aficionados. But we have found that, although communications professionals are very comfortable explaining the virtues of social media to their clients, many are not active on LinkedIn*.

Over 89,000 people are registered on LinkedIn as working in PR/communications in the UK. Over 87% of them haven’t posted anything on the platform for over 30 days.

*We are focusing on LinkedIn here, as this is where most employers and recruiters are talking to your competition.

The dreaded algorithm

If you are active on LinkedIn, the algorithm will reward you by pushing you higher up your contacts’ home feed. And if your level one contacts comment or like your posts, their contacts will see your posts too, giving you the opportunity to be seen by more pairs of eyes.

Quick, simple actions such as liking, commenting and sharing other people’s posts also help you to be seen.

The more you show up, the more people see your posts, the more likely someone will think of you the next time they’re seeking advice or looking for their perfect candidate.

I don’t do LinkedIn because…

Here are some of the objections I hear about using LinkedIn:

I don’t have time
Start small and make it a habit. For just ten minutes every morning, look through your feed for interesting articles to like or comment on.

If there is nothing of interest there, type ‘corporate communications’ or a similar phrase in the search bar, hit return, and then filter by ‘posts’. You can select more filters to find articles you might like to share or comment on.

I can’t think of anything to post
I understand. This is my most common problem. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Industry insights: share a post from a trade publication in your niche.
  • Ask a question: the best way to get people engaged is to ask for advice or an opinion about a project you’re working on.
  • Share something personal: LinkedIn has become a more human channel over the last year. We all crave human connection, so don’t be afraid to share something about the person behind the day job.

No one ever reads, likes or comments on my posts
It takes a little while for the LinkedIn algorithm to reward you for activity. If you show up consistently over several weeks, you will start to see engagement in your posts go up. Don’t forget: liking, commenting and sharing other people’s content are also valuable activities.

I don’t like to brag/sell
You don’t have to be in the spotlight to post on LinkedIn. Sharing insightful posts written by other people will improve your online reputation. Highlighting teamwork, or company-wide successes are other options. But if you are looking for a new job, you will have to get comfortable with talking about your own achievements sooner or later.

Start here

Here are some tips for getting active on LinkedIn:

First – work on your profile
Once you start posting, people will want to find out more about you. Your profile page needs to include a professional photograph, a strong headline and compelling information about your current role. Use your LinkedIn profile page as a mini portfolio of your work. What do you want to be known for? Use phrases in your profile that are most likely to come up in searches in your niche (internal communications, stakeholder engagement, M&A for example).

Be consistent
If you can’t post every day, don’t worry about it, but try to show up at least once a week (likes, comments, shares, or posts).

Follow up
Reply to every single comment on your own posts as soon as possible. It’s just polite. If you aren’t connected to the person who has left you a comment, follow up with a connection request, acknowledging their comment in your invitation.

Don’t sell and don’t broadcast
Mix up your content as I’ve suggested in the section above. Share interesting, valuable information. Great posts educate, inspire, entertain or build a community.

Build relationships
Social media is meant to be sociable. You can make strong and lasting relationships by connecting with like-minded people.

Pay it forward
See how you can help others. Respond to your connections’ appeals for advice. Liking, commenting and sharing their posts will help them be seen by your network. And it might encourage them to do the same for you.

Include a call to action
Even a simple question at the end of your post such as ‘do you agree?’ will encourage readers to get involved in the conversation.

Mix it up
Use different formats, such as text, image-based posts and video and test which ones work best for your audience.

Be authentic
You can use a networking platform like LinkedIn in a professional manner without sounding like a robot. Use language that comes naturally to you (no swearing please!) and bring personality to your posts. People connect with that.

Just start
The best way to get over your nerves is to start. Don’t wait for perfection. You will become more confident with each interaction.

Looking ahead

You need to nurture your network like a plant, giving it consistent attention. So that it will bear fruit when you need it.

In future posts, we will look at improving your interview technique. Please let us know if you would like us to cover other elements of job searching.

In the meantime, have a listen to Vicki’s podcast. Episode 10 featuring social media consultant Phil Szomszor is all about LinkedIn for leaders.

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