Peeping nervously around my front door – I catch a glimpse of the postman holding a parcel delivery for me. Adopting social distancing etiquette, I emerge briefly to retrieve the book I’ve ordered, nod and smile appreciation and retreat quickly back into isolation. I disinfect my delivery package and wash my hands before returning to my laptop to click “join meeting” and resume my virtual exchanges with work colleagues. Such is business life in lockdown.
Homeworking, as a legal requirement, is now being reviewed to combat any slowing effects on our economy and we’re being encouraged to resume a “new” normal way of conducting business. Many of us may emerge reluctantly, questioning the safety of getting back to “pre-Coronavirus” office-style activities. Will we ever feel comfortable conducting face-to-face meetings or attending a networking event again? Can we remain in hiding and still retain our productivity? Online meetings will work, but what about networking? My own exploration into LinkedIn reveals opportunity!
LinkedIn is described as an online “platform for anyone looking to navigate their professional life.” By joining LinkedIn – you can “harness its power to tap into a network of professionals, companies and groups in your industry” and lots more besides. LinkedIn has been around longer than Facebook, hosts more than 600 million professional profiles providing an unlimited supply of networking connections and plenty of job opportunities – if that’s your purpose.
To build a professional LinkedIn profile – online, it’s important to stand out by creating a powerful profile and demonstrate a strong personal brand. I’m advised to be authentic and personable – and understand that people buy from people – even in a business to business environment.
Your profile image on LinkedIn must be up-to-date and recognisable – all very sensible, but apparently not common. It seems many of us try to disguise ourselves – or perhaps we have our own perception of what will portray our best “business face”, a mistake which is generating mistrust and apparently spoiling our connection opportunities. We must be real and genuine to develop good business relationships.
Have you ever “Googled” your own name? Your ranking on search engines can seriously impact upon your business opportunities. Uploading a professional profile image and writing a powerful summary to emphasise your strengths and showcase your personality on LinkedIn, demonstrates to your industry colleagues the skills you bring to the table and helps to raise your Google rankings. It’s time to update that profile!
Have you ever met someone in a crowded room – pre-Covid-19, then done your usual network shuffling to turn and talk to many others, do you remember their names and business benefits when you get back to your desk? Do you have a neat business card file that you keep up-to-date or a folder complying with GDPR where you store email addresses? Probably not – well you can maintain your contacts if you add them on LinkedIn – all ready to connect when the time is right. If you’ve ever opened to invite connections on LinkedIn on your phone during a networking event – now could be the time to refine them!
Don’t forget! Business networking is about developing meaningful connections which will add professional value, not accepting strangers using the default LinkedIn request to connect. If you’re looking for a career move, seeking to provide advice or mentorship or keen to create a unique business presence, be fussy who you connect with – make sure you find the right connections with selective LinkedIn networking. Use a quality not quantity approach.