If you never visit LinkedIn because you aren’t looking for another role you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build a strong, intentional network that will pay dividends well into the future.
Making the right connections is, in my opinion, more important than what you know at any given time.
Back when I was a corporate recruiter, LinkedIn was an integral part of my day. I spent more time on LinkedIn than anything else throughout the day.
It’s been nearly five years (I was actually shocked when I realized how long it’s been) since I’ve done any recruiting on a consistent basis but I’m in LinkedIn every day. Usually, several times throughout the day.
Why? Because it’s crucial to my career.
Here are eight reasons why I’m such an active LinkedIn user despite not being in the market for another role:
Opportunities to Learn
This is a big one and something that is often overlooked, I feel. There are a lot of experienced and extremely generous people on LinkedIn that share their thoughts, best practices, and talk about what’s worked for them and what hasn’t.
A lot of them are leaders within organizations. Many more are not leaders by job title, but very knowledgeable and generous all the same.
Some are surprisingly (and refreshingly) vulnerable and help you realize that even experienced, very successful people have their own self-doubt and limiting internal dialogue.
Be More Intentional
You’ve probably heard me talk a lot about being intentional lately. One reason is, instead of creating a boatload of New Year’s resolutions, I chose, instead, to create a theme for my year based on a video that I saw around the start of the year. My 2020 theme is being intentional.
What does that have to do with LinkedIn and networking? It has everything to do with it. When you’re not actively looking for another role and spraying and praying connection non-personalized LinkedIn requests to everyone and anyone you can slow down, research companies you could see yourself working for one day and be very intentional about who you connect with. It’s important to add a note to your connection request letting them know why you want to connect.
Once connected, you’ll want to be very intentional about how you engage with them. Just like great brand managers and marketers, being intentional in not just what you say, but how you say it, helps you better tell your story and control your narrative. If you’re not intentional about this, what you say could be taken out of context or misinterpreted. Both are things that often occur in a digital world absent of body language and voice inflection.
Patience is on Your Side
Patience. It always comes back to patience. And for good reason. By having patience, you allow things to fully develop. That includes relationships and an understanding you may develop of a company and it’s culture through interaction with people that work there.
No one is born great. No one has ever been great the first time they’ve done anything. Everyone who has been great (and stayed great) has put in lots of hard work and have been patient.
The same holds true in networking. There will be ebbs and flows. There will be times that people lean on you for advice or help and times you lean on others for advice or help. That’s how it works. If you’re not patient and only interested in getting help from others and don’t have ‘time’ to reciprocate you will likely see minimal benefits and almost zero long-term benefits because people won’t be interested in interacting with you if they feel like you’re only out for yourself.
Understand How Their Leaders Think
A lot of company culture is driven from the top down. I witnessed this first hand while I was at Microsoft during the transition in leadership from Steve Ballmer to Satya Nadella. The change in culture has been amazing. The Steve Ballmer Microsoft is not a place I would ever go back to. The Satya Nadella Microsoft would be an amazing place to work. I left shortly after the transition and didn’t get to truly see the effects of the change in leadership that took time to work their way through an organization that large.
By connecting with people in leadership roles at the types of companies you would be interested in working at in the future you get to see how they think, what they value, how they interact with people, and how they communicate.
You also get the opportunity to engage with them in meaningful ways. When I say meaningful, I don’t mean replying to one of their posts with “Great post!” or trying to prove how smart you are or how much you know.
I mean adding value to what they’ve already written and to the audience they were intending to reach. It means, asking questions as a way to get them to go deeper or elaborate on their initial thoughts. It means being curious and asking questions.
Did you know that it’s actually OK to ask questions on LinkedIn? It’s not all “thanks for your post and I’ll raise you one by showing how much I know” word vomit.
Get a Feel for the Company Culture
When you target companies that interest you, don’t limit the people you connect with to only leaders. You can learn a lot about a company’s culture and the kind of people they hire by connecting and interacting with non-leaders. People who could potentially be your peers.
By doing this, you’ll be able to get a great feel and understanding of what the company culture is like and you may actually develop an advocate or two along the way.
Increased Chances to Show Up and Be Visible
Like anything else, time is a valuable resource when it comes to networking. By diving into networking well in advance of needing to, it provides more opportunities to show up and be visible. One of the interesting things about LinkedIn, is not only are your direct comments to someone’s post visible to them but they will also, occasionally see your comments to other posts. This is one more chance to show up in their feed and be visible.
Deeper, More Meaningful Connections
It also takes time to build relationships - professional or personal. The sooner you begin connecting and engaging with people the more likely you’ll be to form deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Maintain Past Relationships
Something that I think is often overlooked when people decide to begin actively networking is they forget that they have relationships that have been built over the course of their careers. Focusing on building those back up and getting reconnected can be extremely valuable. Chances are, they’ve moved on to other companies and now you have exposure to even more opportunity. By re-engaging with them when you’re not actively looking they won’t get the sense that you’re only out for yourself and asking something of them.
That allows you to begin building those past relationships back up and maybe getting to know them better than you did when you once worked together.
As you can see, the benefits of networking, even when you’re not looking for another role, are immense.
Networking is often talked about but rarely done consistently throughout one’s career. People who are successful haven’t done it alone and in a vacuum. They deeply understand the importance of developing and maintaining a strong network.