5 Golden LinkedIn Rules
5 simple rules for anyone using LinkedIn:
Tell people what you are doing
Whether you're at a conference, working on a particular project or attending a meeting - use the share feature to let your connections know what you are doing. People spend hours reading their connections updates, you never know when the people you are connected might be in the same location as you or might be able to help you on a project.
As an alternative to saying 'help others' Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn, coined the phrase 'small goods'. By this he means, at a very basic level, by generous and kind towards others. If one of your connections posts a question in LinkedIn Answers, post an Answer. If they start a discussion in a mutual group, post a comment. If they post an article, Like it. This is key to networking as you are not only engaging with your connections, but you entice them to help you in return for helping them.
Search and connect with everyone you know
You never know who your connections might be connected to. You might be in the process of applying for a particular role when you realise one of your connections has a contact in the recruitment team at that very company. Connect with everyone you know, invite people you know who aren't on LinkedIn to join the network and connect with you - that way your network becomes more valuable to you, and you come closer to finding that connection that could lead to your next career step.
Find and Follow your potential employer
Everyone knows (or should know) that you should always do research before applying for a job. If you apply for a job and don't have a clue what the company does, how it operates or what it sells, you're going to fail under questioning from the very start. Aside from the obvious research tool which is the company's own website, you should utilise the company feature on LinkedIn.
Find the potential employer in the company pages on LinkedIn and follow them - you'll get all sorts of updates straight to your news feed. Find any current employees of the company and view their profiles. What groups have the employees joined? What backgrounds to they come from? What are they saying about their jobs? The more information you know about the company, the better.
Be polite and friendly
Your connections are still people! For some peculiar reason, many people seem to forget that LinkedIn is a professional business network and that the users of LinkedIn are in fact people. You should be polite and friendly, and interact with LinkedIn members as you would with your friends or someone you met face-to-face at a meeting. Personalise messages that you send to people: InMails, Messages, Connection Requests - after all, you wouldn't walk up to someone in the street and say "I'd like to add you to my list of people I do business with".
Aside from the above, and I suppose what governs all the points mentioned in this article, you should always remember that LinkedIn has been created and designed as a platform for people to discover new opportunities, broaden their networks and boost their careers.