LinkedIn is the social media network for professionals, and for that reason alone you have to maximize the opportunity to stand out.
Why LinkedIn? Let’s start with the basics.
LinkedIn is the Social Choice for Business Communication.
Not Facebook, not twitter, not insta. Not snap. LinkedIn.
People on LinkedIn are:
They are not:
These were tools we didn’t have when I was coming up in the industry – I couldn’t reach out to industry folks and ask questions, I couldn’t connect with a Talent Acquisition Manager for the Cleveland Indians.
Start (seriously) using LinkedIn! It’s not magic, you don’t set it up and then forget it, it requires activity and intention.
Here’s how to make LinkedIn a part of your job searching strategy and professional persona:
1: Update your profile first
This is your social impression, and it can be much more than your resume.
Pictures, links to blogs, recommendations, referrals, skills - all are included options on your LinkedIn profile.
Make your profile focused on WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR A BUSINESS, not what you need or want. I repeat WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THEIR BUSINESS.
So for example, rather than saying, “Seeking a role in marketing communication that will allow me to utilize my skills in advertising,” which is 100% focused on what you want, instead make it focused on how you can help a business:
"Experienced digital marketer with a history of successful campaign launches, branding initiatives, and group leadership. Able to manage teams through the entire product lifecycle and analyze data.”
I read that and think -- I see exactly how this person can help us grow!
2: Use LinkedIn to Network Like Crazy
There are three types of people you should connect with:
Zone 1 – the people you know well. Family, friends, professors, advisors
Zone 2 – the people you meet at conferences, volunteer events, industry events – you’ve met them, but they aren’t family or even that close.
Zone 3 – the people you have a loose but creative connection to – you haven’t met these people, but you have a reason to connect. Alumni, podcast guests, speakers at conferences, etc. Even peers or people closely related to where you want to go.
Let’s say you want to work in operations for an NBA team someday…and you find someone who is an operations assistant with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Gatorade league.
Reach out with a connection request and add a note.
Say “Hey, I’m Gary, I’m in school now but when I graduate I dream of working in operations for a pro basketball team like you are – could we connect?”
By adding a note like this, you are setting expectations for the connection. Transparency matters!
Some people will say yes, others won’t. Don’t care about this! Don't let it stop your activity level.
Assume the person doesn’t check LinkedIn that often, or they are busy - it’s not personal. Just pick up and move on to another person. You have to have a thick skin when networking, but trust me when that connection hits, it’s worth its weight in gold.
3: Don’t Ask For Things, Build the Relationship
Someone accepts your connection request and the first thing you ask them: “hey you know of any jobs for me?”
Please, please, please - I am begging you - don’t do this!!
This happens to me daily, and there is no way I can help someone I just met — no possible way. Immediately you’ve sent me the message this is going to be a complicated connection, a one-way street where you feel emboldened to ask me for favors as if I owe you my time and referral network.
Start by asking a softball question that is related to them and their career. Start a dialogue. Like their posts, share their posts, read their posts and comment on them.
Let’s go back to the example with the Maine Red Claws – the person accepted your connection, and you’ve spent some time building the relationship, you have had a dialogue, you’ve liked and shared their posts and maybe commented here and there.
Now, a job posting comes up with the Long Island Nets, and you reach out to your contact and say, “Hey just noticed an operations assistant with the Long Island Nets opened up this week, would you happen to know anyone over there you could connect me with?”
This is fair game because you’ve put in the work the build a relationship.
If it wasn’t for Linkedin, this exchange never happens.
4: Build Your Brand
Be a thought leader, share valuable content, write content, have insightful commentary on a developing issue.
When you publish content or are active on the platform, people are going to notice and wonder, “Who is this cat?” Also, they’re likely going to check your profile.
If you’ve built yourself the right way, they just might be impressed with what you bring to the table - being visible matters.
Here are some ideas you can use to publish content so you can become a thought leader for the sports industry:
5: Stay up to date on industry trends
All the people I am connected with are interested in the sports industry. My news feed is my daily newspaper!
I get all of my industry-focused information off LinkedIn. I learn about new deals, fresh branding, people in my network who earned promotions (another good reason to reach out) and so much more.
Keep in the know with LinkedIn.