From properly presenting your job history to being curious about your engagement, here are nine answers to the question, “Can you share your most effective tips for leveraging your LinkedIn profile as a networking tool?”

DEEPER DIVE: Here’s how Metro Phoenix offers startups advantages over other tech hubs

  • Optimize Your Job History 
  • Be Yourself When Networking Online
  • Don’t Sell, Help
  • Make Your Profile a Portfolio
  • Capture Attention With a Well-written Headline
  • Remember the Three P’s
  • Keep Curious
  • Build a Personal Brand With Engaging Content
  • Explore, Like, Comment, and Engage

Optimize Your Job History 

As a recruiter, I look at LinkedIn day in and day out. Some key components for leveraging your profile are your job history and current job. Be sure to always have your current job up to date, and don’t leave the description of the job blank. 

Putting a one- to two-sentence blurb about what you are doing or what you have accomplished can go a long way in networking; it will make you appear as if you are active and engaged on the site. 

This also will give others who are looking to connect and network with people in similar roles or roles they wish to achieve a better idea of whether they should connect with you and ask you industry-specific questions.

Dell Oliver, Sr. Tech Recruiter, BuzzFeed

Be Yourself When Networking Online

Many people don’t enjoy networking in person. They get uncomfortable or nervous; they don’t know how to approach people or feel as though they need to become someone else to suffer through the experience. 

However, when you are networking with people on LinkedIn, you won’t get the same sort of in-person, instant rejection or the awkwardness of speaking with someone face-to-face; you can be much more genuine. If you are shy, reserved, or don’t easily open up, then share that on LinkedIn. 

I struggle to network with people in a face-to-face setting, but I love the community online where we can exchange ideas and nobody has to pretend to go get another drink just so they can exit the conversation. 

You will probably have a much easier time connecting with folks and finding your people than you think. It is also a much better and more authentic way to start a conversation than trying to fake your way through it.

Allen Plunkett, Founder, Phoenix Staff, Inc.

Don’t Sell, Help

LinkedIn is clearly the place where most business professionals interact with each other. With so much free access to the world’s business leaders, many now use it to “mass connect” without a helpful purpose. Frankly, it can feel a bit icky. 

I’ve found that growing my personal network works best when it’s less of a “push” and more of a “pull.” I post 1-2 times a week, and my posts are never about trying to sell people anything. Instead, I help solve common frustrations or offer helpful tips.

My most successful post so far this year was advice to people who were laid off from their jobs, offering free tips on some of the pro-tactics to get on recruiters’ radars. I never ask for anything in return and people can sense that. When someone feels like they can go to LinkedIn for helpful information, that to me is the true purpose of the site!

Lavi Schechter, VP of Sales, AutoVitals

Make Your Profile a Portfolio

You can use your profile’s “Featured” section to highlight professional achievements and share work samples. It’s essentially a portfolio tool built into your personal LinkedIn page. All you have to do is upload and link to your favorite work samples, which can include documents like PDFs, media files such as images and videos, or links to web pages that feature your work.

Jonathan Ward, Head of Global Marketing and Public Relations, Navaera Worldwide

Capture Attention With a Well-written Headline

The LinkedIn headline is a one-liner resume for networking. It comes up in Google searches, and it’s seen when recruiters scroll for candidates. So, it’s an opportunity to tell the community what you do and who you are. 

I’ve received many messages that play on the “mommy desk” piece of my headline, and it’s been a great conversation starter. A good three-part structure to follow is title or title you are seeking + keywords + a personal touch or unique selling point.

Anna Taylor, Director of Global Recruiting, Semperis

Remember the Three P’s

LinkedIn networking is all about perfecting your profile and getting your posts noticed by keeping these three P’s in mind: 

1. Professionalism – LinkedIn is a professional platform, so ensure that your job experience and title are recent so people can locate you through the search feature. 

2. Precision – Know your target audience and update your LinkedIn headline accordingly to market to those people. For example, if you’re a marketer looking to get hired in tech, your headline should read something like, “experienced and award-winning marketer open to working in tech.” 

3. Personality – In a social platform that is full of redundant sales messaging and similar-styled posts, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine! Create valuable content that educates people, makes them laugh, or simply encourages them to think differently—it’s all about breaking up the noise and stopping the scroll when trying to get noticed.

Sarah Edelman, Sr. Director, Marketing, Homie

Keep Curious

Learning and connecting are in abundance on LinkedIn. To show up with curiosity about the other people there and what they offer might help expand your network in a way that is meaningful for you—whatever you might be seeking. Ask thoughtful questions of others and show up to connect first. (Personalize the automated responses.) The business or advancement of your project will come later.

Rhonda Bannard, Founder and President, Inspired Connections 

Build a Personal Brand With Engaging Content

First off, don’t be scared to be yourself. Share your journey, your struggles, the good, the bad, and the ugly with your network. Create content that applies to your industry, showcases your expertise, and is tailored to your professional goals. This will help position you as an authority in your industry. 

Long-form content like podcasts, LinkedIn Live events, etc., are great ways to build your brand. Reach out to experts and influencers in your industry to speak about relevant topics that you feel others would find interesting.

 Last, one of the easiest and most overlooked forms of content creation is engaging with other people’s content. Posting thoughtful and thought-provoking comments on other large creators’ posts will encourage others to visit your profile and engage with your own posts.

Eric Smith, Founder, Abuveground

Explore, Like, Comment, and Engage

One of the greatest advantages of LinkedIn for me back in 2013, as a young professional, was my ability to search for and learn from other professionals in my industry. (Tip: Find someone to “look up to”. Study their growth; how can you mimic or adapt it?) 

So much so that it helped me land a job in 2015, all because I reached out to someone. That someone is still my mentor today—priceless. (Tip: Be authentic, sincere, and intentional.) 

Over the years, I have leveraged personal and professional relationships by engaging in topics where I am not a “Subject Matter Expert.” Don’t stay in your lane; learn from as many sectors and professionals as possible. We are more connected than you think. (Tip: Ask your personal network about topics you see on LinkedIn; learn in a comfortable setting first.)

Joshua Martinez, Founder and Owner, The OSO Consulting Group