By Andrew Tui, NZ Career Development Specialist and Wellbeing Advocate
Yes you can connect on LinkedIn
Making useful LinkedIn connections helps your career
The year was 2010 and I had commenced my new role as a Career Consultant for Career Services. At an overly enthusiastic Millennial, I was excited about all things Facebook and loved the idea of connecting and sharing information with ‘friends’ online. During a team meeting, we were discussing the merits of social media in relation to career services, but there was a sense that it was fad and clients would not want to use it. In the words of the Tui ads: YEAH RIGHT.
Nine years later and social media is a useful and necessary tool for navigating and exploring careers information. It also provides a popular communication platform for clients, practitioners and employers alike. It is a normal and usual daily practice for me to check and manage my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts for work purposes, and even better if I can quickly do this on my phone.
Why is it difficult to make meaningful and useful LinkedIn connections?
I recently ran a LinkedIn workshop with a group of fantastic students, most of whom had already had a profile ranging from 7 months to 7 years. With such longevity, it shows that LinkedIn has stood firm in the midst of changing sites and platforms (who remembers MySpace and Let’s Lunch?), in fact, I’ve had an active profile since 2009.
All the students in my workshop had aspirations to enter into new and exciting fields of work and some had vast overseas experience. The common feedback from the students was that they found it difficult to communicate with their connections in a meaningful and purposeful way. This parallels with some research I did with Grant Verhoeven where we found that NZ tertiary students lacked confidence in building relationships on LinkedIn. You can read more here.
6 super easy tips for building useful LinkedIn connections
Whilst it feels discouraging when you do not hear back from a connection (or potential connection), here are some useful things to reflect on when reaching out to your network:
- No, no, no, no, yes, no, no no, yes. There are many people on LinkedIn who are courteous and generous in replying to others, and there are even more people who simply can’t be bothered, don’t have the time and capacity to reply, or they forget. Accept that everyone may not answer (it’s their loss!), but put faith in the fact that someone else will. #persistence
- Do your research. Be selective and strategic about who you may message or connect with. Read up about their company and have a look at their profile to get a sense of their experiences (YES, it is okay to look at other people’s profiles. They are made accessible for a reason!). Find the commonalities or things that make you want to find out more. #exploration
- Consider the tone and style of your message. Is it too demanding, vague or unclear? Is it asking for too much in return? (DO NOT ask for a job from the get-go!). Always mention why you are interested in connecting with them and use proper English and grammar (no room for TXT speak here). #firstimpression
- Make sure your profile is up-to-date. Are your sections completed, do you have an appropriate photo? People are less likely to engage with you if you have no photo, or little information on your profile. #preparation
- Be interested. Create engagement by ‘liking’ and giving a ‘thumbs-up’ to a post. Also share comments and don’t be afraid to post content (think about your audience and what might appeal to them too). You could follow-up with a connection by mentioning what you like about their post or comment. #engage
- Timeliness is key. A good way to build confidence is to add people on LinkedIn after you’ve met them at an event or activity. Call it your online business card. #timeliness
Is LinkedIn worth it?
Based on my experiences, I can vouch for LinkedIn being a valuable connection tool. Here are some examples… I have been contacted by recruiters asking if I am interested in a particular role (or asking if I know someone else who is interested); I have contacted people requesting information or advice and they have been happy to provide this; I have been able to source guest speakers by directly contacting people of interest; I readily follow and interact with people who contribute interesting articles and posts, thus positively impacting my learning; and I also seek to inform others by posting articles and photos too.
LinkedIn may seem overwhelming at first, but it becomes easier once you know what you want from it. Take the time to dabble and be curious with all the different parts. Much can be learnt and gained by testing things out.
Andrew Tui is a career practitioner of Samoan-Chinese descent. He is currently the leader of the CDANZ Auckland branch. Andrew has strong experience in the education sector, having managed the Career Centre at Unitec. More recently he was the lead Career Advisor at St Peter’s College, before commencing his current role as the Employability Manager at Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus. With a passion for social media, he presented research on this topic at various symposiums and conferences. He currently is the author of the blog ‘Coffee and a Career Chat’. He holds Commerce and Arts degrees from the University of Auckland and the Graduate Diploma of Career Development from AUT. Outside of work, Andrew plays in an amateur ukulele band called ‘The Unicorns’.
You can follow Andrew’s blog here: https://coffeecareerchat.wordpress.com/