Rebecca: “But Sherry, it feels so … so icky. So pushy. I really don’t like doing it. It makes me feel so uncomfortable.”
Sherry: “Let’s just explore that a bit more. What is it exactly that makes you feel so uncomfortable.”
Rebecca: “I’m worried what they’re going to think. Or what they’re going to say. It’s just so embarrassing.”
Sherry: “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Rebecca: “They might say no. Or they might not reply at all.”
Can you guess what I was encouraging my client to do? Run naked through Shoreditch High Street? Invite Kate Middleton to afternoon tea? Ask her former boss for a payrise?
No, none of those. Much, much easier in fact. I was simply asking her to get confident networking on LinkedIn. To reach out to people she already knows and arrange a time to chat or meet for a coffee. To have simple conversations. To nurture her connections and relationships.
Would you be willing to have a conversation with somebody you’ve worked with in the past? Of course you would.
Why you need to network on LinkedIn
Rebecca has taken a career break and wants to get back into her previous career. She has a unique skillset working in legal technology at management level, coupled with experience working for an industry group. She’s good at what she does. But as she’s discovering, only about 30% of jobs get advertised. And that’s the No 1 reason why you need to network. The cost of a job advertisement or recruitment agency fees is an expense that many organisations want to avoid or at least minimise. Organisations much prefer to recruit based on recommendation.
Today’s article explores LinkedIn networking however you need to start networking in person too. Check out my directory of career groups for women to find the right group for you.
Get clear on the purpose of your LinkedIn networking
To get started with your networking on LinkedIn, the first step is to get absolutely clear on the purpose of your networking. In other words, why are you networking? What do you want to achieve? Some of you reading this are going back to your career after a break or redundancy. Some of you know you need to network to boost your profile or you are looking for a new career opportunity. If you are not clear on the purpose of your networking, the messages that you send out will lack clarity and focus. Start by writing down the purpose. Do you want to get up-to-date on changes in the industry? Do you want find job opportunities? Do you want testimonials and recommendations? And maybe it’s all of these or some other reason.
Polish your profile before you start LinkedIn networking
But first, before you start networking, does your profile might need a little polish? When you start being more active on LinkedIn, you can be sure that your LinkedIn profile will get more views. As humans, we have a natural curiosity and want to find out more about the people we see appearing in our newsfeed. You want to be sure that when people click on your profile, that they see what you want them to know about you – for example, your skills, your strengths, your experience, and your testimonials. In my view, there are 7 essentials that you need to get right on your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn networking is an essential skill
Networking on LinkedIn is an essential skill to help you get back into your career or find new career opportunities. Rather than seeing it as “manipulating” your contacts, think about networking as nurturing your relationships. LinkedIn is simply an online version of going to a networking event. You wouldn’t go to an event and then not talk to anybody in case people thought you were being pushy. It’s the same as LinkedIn. It’s not about barging in saying “Give me a job now.” It’s about building a relationship so that when opportunities arrive, your contacts think of you. It’s about making sure that your contacts know what you want – but also it’s about you being helpful.
Still not sure what to say to your LinkedIn contacts?
If you are still not sure what to say to your LinkedIn contacts to get the conversation started, here’s the wording that I suggest to my Back to Work Confidence participants. The key here is to get started. Those conversations are not going to happen unless you ask. Feel free to use this and adapt to your own style and purpose.
I hope you are well. I’m after a quick favour. I’m looking to get back to work as a service delivery manager. I’d love to get your honest thoughts on my LinkedIn profile and any suggestions you might have for potential employers. Do you have time for a 15-20 minute chat over the phone or we could catch up over a coffee? Thanks, Sherry”
I hope all is well – I loved the recent article you posted on LinkedIn about the digital marketing strategies being used in law firms. As you may know, I am looking for work after a career break, and I would love your guidance. I’m very interested in a position at ABC LLP and I know that you worked there previously. Would you be open to a quick phone chat to answer a few questions about ABC LLP and what they look for in candidates? Many thanks, I appreciate your time and happy to return the favour at some time in the future. Thanks, Sherry”.
Nobody loves me
Just because somebody doesn’t reply to you immediately, don’t fall into the trap of thinking “Nobody loves me”. Make it easy for people to reply to you and keep your opening message brief and to the point. Lots of people won’t reply to you immediately. Not everybody accesses LinkedIn every day (or even every week), and not everybody is set up to received LinkedIn message notifications. Don’t be scared to follow up. Often somebody not replying is simply that they got distracted or forgot.
Get confident networking on LinkedIn
Getting confident networking on LinkedIn requires a few key essentials:
- being clear on the purpose;
- having a polished profile;
- asking for conversations
- and practice. The more you do it, the more confident you will feel.
If you are going back to work after a career break or redundancy or you are looking for new career opportunities, my challenge to you today is to reach out to 5 of your LinkedIn contacts to ask for a conversation. Hell, you can cheat and reach out to me on LinkedIn to ask for a conversation.