Networking might as well be a four-letter word, a curse, or a blasphemy for introverts. Sure, sure, we all know the value of connecting with people to open doors for job opportunities. But the mere suggestion is like fingernails on a chalkboard to us. I’d pick staying at home and scrubbing my bathroom floor any day over attending a networking event.
Good news! The dreaded cleaning frenzy can wait. We can abandon clever excuses to wiggle out of that horrifying activity of showing up at networking events. We owe massive gratitude to LinkedIn because suddenly, we have access to more than 460 million people, all from the comfort of our homes where we can carefully craft our approaches and wordsmith our interactions.
Networking on LinkedIn takes several forms, but three distinct approaches make introverts cheer, including the following.
Fully developed profiles replace nervous speeches
You’ve heard of the elevator pitch, right? That snappy introduction that’ll make people pay attention and steer you towards your dream job in your target organizations. Kick that elevator pitch aside and turn your attention to your LinkedIn profile. Pay attention to five key areas:
- You’ve got 120 characters to define yourself. That’s prime real estate, rich with keywords and branding opportunity. Make them count!
- For more, check out LinkedIn Headline Ideas That Don’t Suck.
- Use first-person language to simulate a 2,000-character conversation with your target audience. It’s a networking interaction without the sweat and agony. Bring your favorite beverage to your keyboard and take your sweet time putting together your highlights. Use your line return liberally so that you have ample white space. This makes it easy to skim your Summary for keywords and marquee accomplishments.
- You’ve got 50 slots here to outline your expertise, and you can decide the order that they appear. You’ve also got control over whether people endorse you or not. You’re the architect of your own profile in so many ways.
- Here’s your chance to supplement your resume, so instead of copying and pasting (I know how tempting this sounds! But it’s a mistake many job seekers make, so take the time to distinguish yourself), add some depth to what’s on your resume. As with your resume, you should still define your accomplishments with metrics. However, if your Summary is written in first person language, carry that forth into your Experience section and imagine that you’re having a conversation with a decision-maker, someone who can make your career with one click of the mouse.
- These short testimonials are listed in your Experience section, not in your Skills section. Those are Endorsements, which are often confused with Recommendations. They carry a great deal of weight, so invest some energy in asking people to write something for you and offer to draft it for them so that you can pack it with keywords! Try to get at least 2 for your most recent 2-3 positions.
Group membership increases your profile reach
You can join up to 100 groups on LinkedIn. It’s such an easy way for you to connect with decision makers in your industry, and it just takes the click of a button to ask to join groups. It’s the virtual equivalent of a massive networking event. You can be in conversation with and be seen by influential people; only you get access and interaction without the agony of deciding what to wear, without the awkward conversational pauses, and without the tense internal dialog about how much longer you’ll force yourself to stay at an event.
Find the perfect groups with these tactics
- View LinkedIn profiles of your competition, people in positions you covet, and people with hiring or jobs you’re targeting. Scroll to the bottom of their profiles to see which groups they’re in. The groups displayed on their profiles are hotlinks. Click on the titles of the groups to view the group page. If, after reading the group description, pay particular attention to the number of people in each group. More is better and you want to join the group, click on the “Ask to Join” button.
- In the search bar at the top of the main page, type in keywords associated with your industry, and you’ll see groups that are associated with your specialty. Also, search for groups related to your alma mater, your geographic area, and hobbies there are a surprising number of groups associated with personal interests such as golf.
- Look for groups that LinkedIn recommends for you by clicking on Interests on the main menu, selecting Groups, and clicking on the Discover tab.
It’s possible to privately signal to recruiters
LinkedIn has a new feature that allows job seekers to indicate that they’re looking for opportunities. Just go to the Jobs tab on the main page, select the Preferences tab and move the setting that says, “Let recruiters know you’re open” to “On.”
Mercifully, LinkedIn has created this tool that allows people to communicate that they’re in a search. Now job seekers no longer have to devote precious real estate in their Headlines and Summaries for phrases like “Seeking New Opportunities.”
If you use phrases such as these, you’re vulnerable to trolls who will approach you to sell you their services or products. So make sure to use the setting that LinkedIn provides and remove those phrases from your profile. If you’re a strong introvert (like me!), you’ll quickly find that LinkedIn is a job seeker’s playground with many features that allow us to network virtually and bypass the uncomfortable in-person events (or at the very least, supplement them!).
For more LinkedIn tips check out 19 Essential LinkedIn Profile Tips For Job Seekers.