How to use LinkedIn for Career Development and Personal Growth?

LinkedIn is a valuable resource for any professional. If you’re not already using LinkedIn for career development, now is the time to get started!

LinkedIn is a fantastic online resource bringing employers and prospective candidates together.

It can be used for networking, too, and for companies and businesses to promote their products and services.

To get the most out of LinkedIn’s networking and job searching potential, here are the top ways to utilize LinkedIn for career development and personal growth.

LinkedIn for career development and personal growth

Making Connections

Linkedin Connections - LinkedIn for career development and personal growth.

LinkedIn can be used to connect to other individuals in your field – or in a field, you want to break into!

Connecting with individuals who are in a position you aspire to is the best way to maximize LinkedIn as a networking tool.

If you are, for example, looking to go into the humanitarian field, connect with people working at NGOs. You can get in touch with them and ask about how best to develop the skills you need for your future career. 

Carefully read all of your connections' profiles, too – you can find out where they have worked, giving you ideas about where next to apply, and learn from their skill section what skills you need to be developing.

You can connect with alumni from your university or other educational institutions, connect with people who have worked at the same company as you and so on.

You can begin conversations when you connect with someone, too – discuss shared work or study experiences, or how you know shared connections.

It’s wise to not connect with everyone straight away – especially not when you have a shell of a profile.

Think about it: this is the first thing your contacts will see, and if it’s a profile that’s not filled out, it doesn’t make a very good first impression!

Wait to send out your connection requests until you have set up your profile. That way, when you do pop up on people’s radars for the first time, you have a complete and professional profile ready to go.

Always personalize your messages and requests, too – nothing is worse than a ‘let’s connect!’ from a complete stranger to who you didn’t bother explaining to them why connecting is a good idea.

Remember your manners – introduce yourself and give a context for why you want to connect. You can do this with a simple personal message, reminding them of a project you worked on in their company or that you were in the same university.

Always send thank you notes if you ask for recommendations. Finally, don’t be shy to congratulate people – when LinkedIn sends a message that a connection has started a new job, has a work anniversary or has completed a project, send a congratulatory note. It’s kind, and it will make them remember your name. 

Your Profile

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Your profile on LinkedIn is like your resume – you should develop each section as if you were writing your resume and include everything that is relevant to you.

There’s even a language section and a patent section!

Projects and volunteer sections are crucial to showing your experience, both in and out with your professional role. You can also include associations, conferences, training and certificates. 

You should be updating your profile every month with something new – there’s nothing worse than having an out-of-date profile!

You have to demonstrate to your connections that you are always learning and willing to develop new skills.

Whether this is working on a new language or completing work training courses, you should be showing that you are always improving your abilities.

Update your current job responsibilities frequently, particularly during you’re your review as you focus on what you have accomplished in one year and look to what you can accomplish in the next.

Your connections will notice these little changes in your profile and may eventually offer you a job after seeing you grow over a number of years!

Don’t forget to update your picture, too – that old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words has never been truer than on LinkedIn!

Your profile picture is the first thing employers and connections see when they view your profile. Bad, blurry photos should be avoided, as should selfies – it’s unprofessional.

Instead, opt for a quality photograph of yourself. These are easy enough to get with a decent camera, or you can ask a professional photographer for some help.

You can also reach out to your university or college marketing and careers department if you’re still a student. It just takes a few minutes but will make a big difference – after all, these are the things people remember about you!

Follow Companies and Individuals You Care About

It sounds common sense, but don’t just follow people or companies because of their big name. Follow things you genuinely care about and causes you are familiar with.

This might be human rights, LGBTQ rights, or animal rights. If you’re into law, follow law firms and lawyers you are familiar with. Following these communities will allow you to see how they support hiring job seekers in these fields.

Follow individuals who communicate messages you are drawn to – writers who have written great books or articles in your field, for example. 

Join Groups

LinkedIn allows you to join up to 100 groups, too, so you can join as many relevant groups as possible.

These will give you great connections, increase awareness of your own personal brand, and allow you to share job listings and articles to get yourself noticed.

You can search for groups with keywords – keep them as targeted as possible, so you only get groups which are specific to your needs and wants.

You can find groups that contain lots of your connections, too – chances are, if they are interested in this group, you should be too!

Offer High-Quality Content Only

LinkedIn is a platform for professionals, meaning content you post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram doesn’t make the cut here.

Make sure things you post are relevant to your profession, the general economy or a certain field, and makes people think! 

Endorse Others Skill Sets

Endorsing skill sets of others is a great way to support other individual’s profiles and shows that you support their core values. It’s a good way to build relationships with your connections, too – and they might endorse some of your skills in return!

Job Searching

As well as getting your name and resume out there via your profile and connections, LinkedIn actually has a job search app! Here you can use your profile to apply for jobs in one tap, and it shows who you are connected with, too – crucial for getting that interview!

Develop New Partnerships

Initiating projects and partnerships with new connections is a failsafe way to network and grow your profile. You can ask a new connection to co-author an article with you in a journal, for example, or submit a conference proposal together. If your article is published or a proposal is accepted, this will level up both your LinkedIn profiles and future career prospects.