Networking

4 Ways You Are Limiting Yourself on LinkedIn

LinkedIn claims to be the “world’s largest professional network” and it is hard to deny that.  A LinkedIn profile has become the electronic version of one’s resume. In addition to that, it allows you to highlight your personality and, as an extension of you,  is a hub for your professional network.  It allows you to create and build professional relationships and facilitates the sharing of knowledge and insight via articles and group discussions.  TheAfter5Edge - 4 Ways You Are Limiting Yourself on LinkedIn

If you take advantage of it, it is a powerful tool that can enhance your professional situation. But are you taking full advantage of it?

Here are 4 ways you may be limiting yourself on LinkedIn:

1. You’re not taking advantage of opportunities to continue the conversation

How many times do you connect with someone on LinkedIn and the communication ends there?  You press “Send invitation” or “Accept” and then there’s silence.  Networks like LinkedIn make it easy to connect with others beyond your geographic location but maintaining that relationship comes with time and effort on your part.  This is the same was with offline relationships.  Make an effort to continue the conversation with your connections by touching base throughout the year, find out what they’re up to, find out what issues they could use help with and what their latest accomplishments are. Go a little deeper than waiting for periodic updates on your homepage.

2. You’re uncomfortable selling yourself

Many of us, especially women, have been taught to be humble and to not brag.  But is it bragging if you’re simply stating a fact?  I’d agree that how tact is applied affects how the information you’re sharing about yourself is perceive.  So provided it is done gracefully, I think it is important to share your achievements. At the very least, we’re each responsible for being our biggest proponent and supporter.  If you’re not able to exhibit confidence in yourself and your abilities, how do you expect sponsors to feel comfortable vouching for you at the decision-making table? It all starts with you. And if you don’t share your progress with those around you, the world may never know about the impact you’re making day-to-day.

3. You’re unsure about when it is appropriate to interact with “professional” contacts

If you feel this way, you’re not alone.  This is especially the case with contacts who appear to be on LinkedIn strictly for business.  They may be the same ones you’ll hear making comments about the frivolity of social media.  Yes, LinkedIn is a professional network and often, it is the next step after a networking event. But sharing knowledge, insight, engaging, building relationships and creating opportunities are all part of maintaining your professional network. You just have to be mindful that the information that’s appropriate for LinkedIn may be different from what you’d share on Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  For example, interacting with your contacts around articles on leadership, industry trends and technology will likely be appropriate if it is along their purpose for being on LinkedIn.

4. You’re not participating in relevant and timely discussions 

Many people like to wait until they feel like they’re an “expert” to contribute.  While you’re perfecting their expertise, time is passing and the topic you’re passionate about is taking a different turn.  Timeliness and relevance are important when it comes to providing valuable  feedback.  Therefore, if you have a point of view that you’re able to support, it is important to share.  Your contribution may be the fresh new approach that others who have been addressing the topic may need.  If you feel so inspired, comment on articles and statuses and join the discussion in groups on LinkedIn.  You never know who you will help with your commentary or who will see your comment and feel compelled to reach out to you to continue the conversation.

Are these limitations relevant to you?  What are opportunities that LinkedIn provides that you haven’t taken advantage of?  For the opportunities that you’ve taken advantage of, how have they helped you?   

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What To Do Within 48 Hours Of A Networking Event

You made the effort to attend a networking event, even if you didn’t know anyone who would be there and that thought made you uncomfortable.  You forced yourself out of your comfort zone and walked around the room to meet people.  With time, you got into a groove and solidified how to begin and end conversations and also how to transition conversations into introductions.  Now you’re home and you’re glad you went.  You met some interesting people, identified synergies and had some great conversations.

So what happens now?

You’ve heard the importance of networking and looking for ways to grow and foster your network.  You’ve also had a lot of guidance on how to prepare for and what to do during networking events.  But do you know what you should focus on within 48 hours of a networking event?

Here is a to-do list to ensure you ride out the momentum from a networking event and build your relationships on a strong foundation:

Take notes.  While the conversations you had are still fresh in your mind, go through the business cards you obtained and make some quick notes on the back with key information about the person and topics discussed.  Make note of what they do, things that are of interest to them and what they need help with.

Do Research.  Take the initiative to deepen your understanding of the person, there involvement in various activities and find common grounds. These days, it is easy to find additional information on others on sites like LinkedIn and via personal or business websites. There is only so much you can fit into a short networking conversation so leverage these other means to your advantage.

Reach out.  Continue the conversation by reaching out via email or phone.  Let them know it was a pleasure meeting them, you enjoyed the conversation, and we’re happy to help in the event you can be helpful.

Reinforce your value.  Share an article or resource that is an extension of where your conversation left off.  Show that you can provide value to your new contact and that you can help them with their top-of-mind items.

Connect on social networks.  Let social networks help you continue the conversation.  Follow your new contact on LinkedIn or Twitter.  If they’re sharing interesting content, retweet it to share with your followers.  Acknowledge them in a tweet for what they do and what you’ve learned from them.

Extend an invitation to meet.  Take the initiative in deepening the relationship by meeting in person so you to know them better and can also discuss projects  you’re both working on and how you can help each other.  This could be over coffee or a cultural or sporting event.

Offer to introduce them to others.  Do the heavy lifting in helping them expand their network by introducing them to people who could be of help.  This will help establish you as someone who is well connected and as a go-to person if they’re looking to meet a certain type of person at a later date.

Your timeliness in acting after a networking event is crucial and lifts some of the weight in terms of how much time and energy it takes.  The faster you get to know the person at a deeper level and create a genuine relationship, the more flexibility you’ll have in continuing the conversation with them.  So take advantage of the momentum and create a bridge to what happens next.

Have you used a similar approach after your networking events?  How has it been helpful?  Are there additional things that you do to build your relationship with new contacts?  Share your comments below!

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5 Places and Events that Facilitate Networking Opportunities

We’ve heard that networking is one way to circumvent the traditional approaching to becoming employed.  But unbeknownst to many, networking is more than the new way to get a job.  In fact, once you’ve been hired, networking can help you get placed on the right projects and with people who will help you grow professionally and succeed. Similarly, when you’re ready for your next move, networking can help you pivot.

With days ran by long to-do lists, conference calls, and meetings, you’re probably wondering where you’ll find time and opportunities to network. But just as you would create a plan for important tasks, you can do the same for your networking goals by setting aside times and places to make it happen. Here are a few places:

Conferences – National or regional conferences provide great opportunities to network with others.  If you’re attending a conference that’s specific to your industry, it is a great way to meet others with similar expertise and who may be a resource if you have a technical question. Or if you’re attending a conference for a common interest such as blogging, you can build a network and can help each other grow your blogging community.

Alumni events – It warms my heart when I come across Wharton and Penn alumni.  It happens so frequently and most recently while I was traveling in Canada!  With that common bond and having “grown up” in the same place and having shared similar experiences that have since shaped our lives, I’m especially willing to help and support my fellow alums.

Boards – Non-profit or advisory boards provide a great opportunity for you to meet people who are accomplished in their respective fields and are passionate enough about a cause to lend their skills and expertise.  Working with them for a common cause, they learn about your work ethics and will be able to speak first-hand about your credentials.

Clubs and community organizations – Coming together to play a game of volleyball or soccer with individuals who are nostalgic about their athletic youth is a great way to stay active. At the same time, you’ll be actively expanding your networking and meeting people who you may not run into with your normal routine.

Training events – Training events bring together people who are interested in improving themselves whether it is rooted in professional development, technological skills or general self-improvement.  These individuals are usually very interested in sharing ideas and strategies and having an accountability partner to help them follow through after the training.  Therefore, this presents a great opportunity to continue the conversation and expand your network over time.

What places and events help you the most when you’re looking to expand your network?  Are they places and events that are part of your normal routine? Or do you go out of your way to network? Share your experiences below!

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