How to Be Social in LinkedIn


The place to start your professional presence in social media is LinkedIn.

With nearly 300 million professionals and two new members per second, it’s where to be in the work world.

Reciprocity is a key principle of social media. Think of others. What interests them? What inspires them? How can you highlight and promote their efforts?

Be a strategic giver, in the spirit that Wharton professor Adam Grant wrote about in his bestseller Give and Take.

Setting goals. On any social media platform, start by defining your goals. Why are you there? What do you want to accomplish? Two big reasons are because LinkedIn is becoming your resume and to build your professional network.

Getting started. Assuming you already have an account, refresh your profile (make sure you’ve turned off the profile notification updates to your network). Include a professional photo. Upload samples of your best work.

Get Work Smarter with LinkedIn by Alexandra Samuel. This Harvard Business Review e-book gets you started with a great profile and easy ways to update your professional portfolio and expand your network over time.

Connecting with people. To start, you can connect with your existing contacts to invite people you already know. Every time you meet someone new – whether inside or outside of your company – send them a connection request. Be sure to personalize it. Don’t send the default request. Write a short note about why you want to connect. Use it as an opportunity to differentiate yourself and brighten someone’s day.

Assessing connection requests. Generally I’ll connect with people I know. And with people at my company, even if I haven’t met them yet. If I don’t know someone and their industry or role looks relevant, I might accept the request. If a request is from someone completely unknown to me, I don’t accept it. Unless they have taken the time to personalize the request and explain why they would like to connect with me.

Growing your presence. Add something new to your profile at least once a quarter, and ideally every month. Add a new project, a video or other work sample. List speaking engagements. New awards. Something you wrote. At least once a week, post a status update about a project or accomplishment. Share a pertinent article or blog post. Consider starting a LinkedIn blog to share your expertise.

Engaging with people. Beyond building your network, scroll through the home page a few times a week. Tuesdays are especially good. “Like” people’s postings. Comment on a few. Join a discussion group and be an active participant. Offer to write recommendations for people you can enthusiastically endorse.

Fitting it into your life. Schedule a few minutes each week to post a status update. If you’re the super organized type, create an editorial calendar. Research says the best times to post to LinkedIn are early in the week. Put the LinkedIn app on your smartphone so you can access it on the go. Waiting in line somewhere? Post a quick status update (on a professional topic, not the line).

Learning from luminaries. Want help with your LinkedIn profile? Check out speaker and author Donna Serdula. You can also learn all about LinkedIn from Eve MayerLori Ruff and Viveka von Rosen.

Finding adjunct uses. Jumping on a call with people you haven’t met yet? Check out their LinkedIn profiles. See what looks interesting, and what you might have in common to quickly build rapport. One of my responsibilities is to design and deliver my company’s annual leadership meeting. LinkedIn is incredibly helpful once I’ve identified speakers of interest and I want to connect with them directly.

Engaging with customers. From time to time I hear from customers. I make those requests a priority and connect people to the right place within customer care. It may change someone’s mind for the better and generate goodwill.

Engaging with job candidates. People often contact me looking for the hiring manager for an online job posting. This is an opportunity to further our company’s employer brand, we entertain the future. I’ll use my internal network with our recruiters to direct the person to the right place. It’s all part of wanting candidates to have a great experience interacting with us and furthering our corporate reputation.

Engaging with recruiters. With the economy picking up, so has the volume of recruiter outreach. If a recruiter’s profile looks legitimate, I’ll review the job description and try to recommend at least a few good candidates. If there aren’t any people I can refer, I’ll connect the recruiter with a forum group I belong to of senior-level corporate communicators.

What are your best LinkedIn tips?

Published by

Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

One thought on “How to Be Social in LinkedIn”

  1. Great blog Caroline!
    This really helps someone who is not “in the know” and now can be “in the know” after reading your blog.
    I am starting my way into the “future” with baby steps and taking it all in as I go.

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