LinkedIn has revolutionized professional networking, and I would not have had some of the career successes I have with the platform. Here are four reasons I love it.
When I first entered the business world, the only way to network was at in-person events. These could get expensive quickly. The best places to network were usually for paying members. (For example, Chamber of Commerce events when I owned a brick-and-mortar fitness studio, or Association of Fundraising Professionals events when I started my fundraising career.) Even when networking events were free and open to the public, there was the cost of transportation to get there.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is a completely free place to engage with professional connections. (Yes, there is a paid version, but the vast majority of professionals do not need it.) I’m always excited to find a bargain!
830 Million Members
There are so many people on LinkedIn. 830 million and counting! While I definitely believe quality beats quantity every time in networking (and most other aspects of life), some basic math says that if there are more people “in the room,” you’ll be more likely to find the people that you need to. The largest networking event I have been to was related to a conference that had a few thousand attendees. Impressive, but there are so many more people in my field who were not there – but are on LinkedIn.
Your next hiring manager is probably on LinkedIn. Or your next client. Or your next employee. Or the mentor you’ve always dreamed of. You get the picture – with so many professionals on LinkedIn, you definitely want to be there, too.
Networking of the past was most likely to happen at a happy hour. Maybe a morning coffee. Occasionally a luncheon. Today, it never has to stop!
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take breaks – open 24/7 doesn’t mean our notifications have to be on 24/7. Boundaries matter.
However, it is pretty cool that you can log in when it meets your schedule to network, rather than having to rearrange things on your work or family calendar to make the events work.
You Don’t Have to Wear Pants
Before heading out to a networking event, it’s necessary to dress the part. While it can be fun to get dressed up, my feet are so much happier when I don’t go out as often. Tennis shoes feel much better than heels! I can skip the hair and makeup, too. Life is more comfortable this way. And if you don’t like to wear pants, well, you do you – they aren’t necessary for networking on LinkedIn.
None of this is to say that LinkedIn will or should replace networking in person. Those events can be rewarding and have value. LinkedIn offers a chance to do additional networking beyond the events. (I always connect on LinkedIn within 24 hours of meeting people at a networking event to continue the conversations we started!) It’s a chance to network with people that don’t live in the same geographic area (some of my best mentors are many states away).
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start networking on LinkedIn today!
(Want help assessing your LinkedIn profile and networking strategy? Hire me!)