The study was based on two findings:
Interestingly, when broken down by industry, more male LinkedIn network in traditionally female fields, such as the cosmetics industry. But in tobacco and ranching industries, which are normally considered male-dominated, women are the predominant networkers. Why? LinkedIn suggested the “minority sex has to network harder than the dominant sex to break into those industries.”
The study did not look into the quality of the connections for the various groups. But when it comes to networking, having a large network isn’t always the key factor to success. Job seekers and others should always take into account the depth and breadth of their contacts in addition to the number of people in their circle. In other words, consider the quality of your connections in addition to quantity.
Here’s what you should consider to grow your LinkedIn and other networks strategically:
Is your network geographically diverse? LinkedIn provides statistics about your network via the main toolbar. Click on “Contacts” and select “Network Statistics.” Study the “regional access” data to see where your network is strongest, and decide whether you need to work harder to grow your number of contacts in a certain location. If you live in New York and are planning a move to Omaha, it could behoove you to focus your network expansion with that geographical goal in mind.
Does your network include members from each of your past industries and jobs? Luckily, “Network Statistics” also highlights the top industries in your network. You may be surprised to learn the breakdown by field. Is the fastest-growing network in your field one you believe will propel your career forward? If not, consider joining industry groups and answering questions on LinkedIn to engage new contacts.
Does your network include contacts from your targeted (future) fields? When evaluating industries, keep in mind you’ll want a strong network in your next field if you plan to change careers. One way to help you visualize and categorize your LinkedIn network is by using inMaps, which produces a color-coded chart to illustrate different affiliations or groups represented in your network, including people associated with your previous employer, college classmates, or industries you’ve worked in. The inMap also illustrates how the people you are connected to connect to each other. You can identify pockets in your networks and consider where you may want to expand your connections via this visual tool.
Once you strategize about how to grow your network, don’t forget: a useful, engaged network requires ongoing upkeep and effort.
Keep the following in mind to fully benefit from your LinkedIn profile:
Use your headline to clearly describe your value proposition. Market yourself clearly, and don’t feel compelled to use your work title as your headline. Use the headline to describe your expertise using keywords to help people find you. You can even use your headline to announce your job-search goals.
Make sure you tell a compelling story in your summary. Use your summary section to your best advantage and give people a reason to learn more about you. This is an opportunity to share the most important and interesting details about you with visitors to your profile—and to engage them so they want to learn more.
Interact and engage with your network. Update your status regularly to let people know what you’re doing and thinking about. Share links to posts you write and important or useful articles from others in your circle. Comment on others’ status updates, and keep an eye on the updates LinkedIn offers to stay in touch with what members in your network are doing. When someone adds an updated job description, congratulate him or her. If a colleague wins an award, make sure to acknowledge it.
Don’t allow LinkedIn to become a static network—engage, interact, and share your resources. When you do, you’ll benefit from all it has to offer!
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.