4 Ways to Spartanize Your Networking Efforts, From LinkedIn Insiders

Halo by Xbox360 via Getty Images

Halo by Xbox360 via Getty Images

If you were to take a cue from the Fortune 500 CEOs of the world, you might be keen on avoiding social media. It can be a productivity killer, or a way to do or say something stupid that will follow us around forever. For those suffering from social anxiety issues, putting yourself ‘out there’ can be stressful – hell, even making sure you have a killer profile picture can be a monumental task. For those reasons, wanting to avoid social platforms is perfectly understandable.

But in the 21st century economy, it’s also the most powerful networking tool we have at our disposal. That means there are virtually limitless opportunities to mine our networks for job or training opportunities, or to simply expand our reach further, and add friends or colleagues to our ranks.

Using platforms like LinkedIn, you can really beef up your career clout. Become a social Spartan – a Napoleonic networker. And it won’t even be all that difficult. In fact, you can use social media platforms to build yourself up, and then let the legend you’ve become take some of the awkwardness out of real-life situations.

Here are four basic steps you can take to beef up your social media and networking efforts, straight from the LinkedIn team.

1. Brand yourself

Nobody likes to be told to “brand themselves.” It has such a salesy ring to it, and is a phrase that gets a lot of people to tune out right away. But there’s something to it. When you go on a job interview, you’re basically advertising your services to an employer. Whether you like it or not, you are a product, and you need to sell yourself.

The trick is to brand yourself in a way that separates you from the pack. Think of how advertisers put together effective marketing campaigns – it’s the ones that are different that make an impact. You can mimic those strategies. LinkedIn’s own Catherine Fisher has put together a blog post on how to best build your profile to do just that: leave a lasting impression. Read through it, and get your profile(s) up to speed.

2. Let your online presence do the work

If your profile is rock solid, then it should be making some impressions. This will allow people to get to know you before ever actually meeting or interacting with you. You’ll carry a certain amount of clout – or, as president Teddy Roosevelt philosophized, hold a “big stick”, which is your reputation and persona.

In another blog post, LinkedIn’s Senior Director of Product Management Mark Hull recounts how one user used her profile to actually “take the work out of networking,” by letting her profile speak to her reputation. In this way, people knew her before meeting her. They see her history and prowess, and know that she’s someone to be treated with respect, or revered.

Let your profile do the work. And if you’re scant on accomplishments? Get out there and get to work.

3. Write, and start conversations

In that same post, Hull highlighted another member who found a way to use social media as a way to create a career narrative. By writing long-form posts about her passion, photography, lifelong tech worker Andrea Wexler was able to create a second career for herself in the field that she loved. The posts she wrote resonated, and led to many connections within the photography community, helping spark her growth in the industry.

“If your profile tells your professional story, posting – as Andrea observed – reinforces it in your own words and invites others to comment and connect with you,” Hull writes. “You can begin a great conversation in different ways. Write a post or update yourself – or start small by leaving an insightful comment or a good question on what someone else has shared.”

4. Be active

The final piece of the puzzle? Be active. Don’t create profiles, and let them sit there idle. You need to show your network and potential connections or employers that you’re a doer. Update your profile, make posts, ask questions, and keep yourself in a state of perpetual motion. It’s not that much work; even logging on and sending out feelers once or twice a week will suffice.

LinkedIn suggests staying active by joining insider groups, offering help when your connections ask for it, and even asking for interviews, or opportunities to pick someone’s brain. The worst that can happen is that you’re ignored or turned down, and you’ll at least learn something about communication or strategy from the experience.

Put the pieces together, and you’ll conquer your networking anxieties.

Follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter @SliceOfGinger

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