LinkedIn Best Practice Guide - Part 2: Build Your Network
(Last updated 10/10/2020)


IntroductionIt’s About Who You KnowUsing LinkedIn As A Targeted Research ToolReaching Out To The Right PeopleAvoid These MistakesReferences


Given the current state of the economy and employment, many members of the Jamat may find they will soon need to re-enter the job market. Now is the time to prepare for your job search, which often involves creating or updating your LinkedIn profile.

Did you know that 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn as part of their candidate search? LinkedIn ( is the top professional social networking site with 500 million members (133 million users in the U.S. alone) and reaching 200 countries and territories around the world. Having an up to date LinkedIn profile helps build trust and keeps you in the loop on potential employers.

While filling in your LinkedIn profile will get you started, it will not be complete, and indeed the real power of LinkedIn will not become apparent until you start to build your personal network.

LinkedIn is a social network, just like Facebook and Twitter, but that is where the similarity ends. LinkedIn is not a place to “have fun”. It is somewhere to find a job, connect with customers and build a business.

In this second of three guides, we will show you how to begin to leverage the real value of LinkedIn by building your personal network.

The Aga Khan Economic Planning Board has prepared this comprehensive best practice guide to help with building your presence on LinkedIn and is also offering 1-to-1 assistance with your CV, cover letter or interview preparation. Please contact us on [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.

It’s About Who You Know

Your connections on LinkedIn are measured in degrees of separation. A direct connection is a 1st degree of separation, their direct connection is a 2nd degree of separation from you and so on. You will see references to these degrees - written as “1st”, “2nd” etc - peppered throughout LinkedIn and for good reason. A person 1 degree away from you (a direct connection) is far more likely to help you than a 2nd degree or more, who is effectively a stranger. A direct connection is more likely to write a recommendation, endorse your skills, refer you on to someone else or let you know of an opportunity and so on.

A person with a 2nd degree of separation is not totally useless to you however. They will be able to see that you have a friend in common and who that friend is and they will be more likely to respond to your message or otherwise listen to what you have to say. They will also be more likely to see anything you have written on LinkedIn, in their feed, if a mutual connection has liked or commented on it.

Building your network on LinkedIn is a very powerful tool and a great boost to your job search.

The fastest way to build your network is to import your contacts, e.g. from Gmail. After you have logged in, click on “My Network” at the top, head to the “Add personal contacts” box on the right and click on “More options”. You can then select the email service you wish to import contacts from and follow the login prompts from there.

Another way to build your network is to visit another person’s profile page and click on the “Connect” button near the person’s name. This should be used sparingly as the profile owner will get a ‘connect’ message from someone they may not know - you. They may be happy to accept the connection - after all this will add to their network too - but many on LinkedIn are now quite discerning about who they link to, as they know that their network says something about them.

Top Tip:

Statistics show that only 8.33 percent of people use LinkedIn during working hours compared to other social media sites, such as Facebook, indicating that you might get more interaction and exposure if you update your status, network, and connect with people and companies after business hours on LinkedIn. Test this out at different times of the day to see what works best in getting responses and other interactions.

Using LinkedIn As A Targeted Research Tool

Once you have built a substantial 1st degree network (at least 150-200+ connections) you will be able to research who among your network works for a company you are interested in or is connected to someone there. You can reach out to these people depending on their connection with the company. If they work there, you can ask questions about the company culture. If they are a client or service provider, you can ask what it's like to do business with them.

It is also an excellent idea to use LinkedIn to research your future manager and team before going in for an interview. You can use LinkedIn to research hiring managers and interviewers to find out about their likes, interests, and more. You can leverage this information during your interview to create relatability and show that you've done your homework.

Not only can you connect with people on LinkedIn, but you can also connect with companies by “following” them in the same way you would follow on Facebook or Twitter. Research the companies you're interested in and follow them: first go to the company profile page, then look for and click the “+ Follow” button near the top under the “headshot” picture or logo. This will help you stay in the know about company news and new positions as they become available. Note that this company will now be added to your Interests section at the bottom of your profile page

Aside from following specific companies, you can create job alerts for particular search terms. This will alert you to new positions as soon as they are posted to LinkedIn, putting you a step ahead of the competition. When you are logged in, click on the “Jobs” icon at the top of the page. This will take you to the advanced job search page. Search for your job and when you are happy with your search terms and location, simply click the “Job Alert Off” toggle button at the top of the search results page. Click the gear icon next to that, to manage your job alerts. You can also click the “Job Alerts” link at the top of the advanced job search page (or click on Jobs at the top of the page after you login, to get there).

Once you start to build your profile, connections and job alerts, LinkedIn will automatically create a page of jobs you may be interested in, displayed on the main job search page: just click the “Jobs” icon at the top of the page.

Top Tip:

Recruiters using LinkedIn often make use of keywords in their search for candidates. Knowing this, you should make judicious use of select keywords and phrases throughout your profile, in order to turn up in search results.

Here, you can use your target job descriptions to your advantage!

Take a look at the job descriptions of the positions you’re after, and copy them into a word cloud tool like The words that stand out are likely what recruiters are searching for when they’re looking for people like you. Make sure those words and phrases are sprinkled throughout your profile summary and experience.

Reaching Out To The Right People

Building your personal network confers ‘social proof’ that you are at least trustworthy enough not to dismiss out of hand. Once you have built a sizable network of friends and colleagues it’s time to start targeting and connecting with the people who will help get you your next job.

Here are some of the most useful approaches.

The quickest way to reach out a potential employer is to ask one of your connections to make an introduction to someone they’re connected to within the target organisation. At this point, clearly the larger your personal network, the more likely it will be that one of your personal connections will themselves have the right connections.

Another fruitful approach is to connect with your university alumni network or association. First join (or follow) your specific alumni network or university and then search for past alumni at employers of interest. You can also first search for your alumni network or university and then do another search for your target employer: LinkedIn will give you an option to search for the employer’s company name within the alumni network.

An extension of this idea is to search for - and join if you haven’t already - a common group that will help form a connection between you and a target employer. It could be a community group, faith group or another interest group

LinkedIn also helps you avoid gatekeepers to the executive level or to hiring managers. It doesn’t eliminate the barriers completely, but it does at least give you a fighting chance of contacting a hiring decision maker. Take this opportunity. This can help you cut through the noise and stand out from other potential recruits, even if only for your tenacity.

Remember that when reaching out directly to a potential employer, write a succinct, personalized message. Don't just copy your cover letter.

A final tip is to use LinkedIn to search for recruiters in your industry. For example, if you’re in advertising, you might do a search on advertising recruiters.

Top Tip:

Send your LinkedIn messages on a Sunday when reaching out to potential employers. Executives often spend Sunday evening preparing for the week ahead, including checking their LinkedIn page.

Simply introduce yourself at this stage. Pitching for the job will come later. They will review your LinkedIn page for further details if there is any interest. This is why your LinkedIn profile should be in top shape by this point as they will spend only a few seconds reviewing it.

Try to find some common ground or common connections in the message, including mentioning - and complimenting - the people you have already spoken to in the target organisation.

Everything you have done so far to build your profile and network will help convey credibility with your target employers and will help them view you as valuable enough to connect with - all in a few seconds.

Avoid These Mistakes

  1. Don’t lie about anything
  2. Don’t post inappropriate or unprofessional photos, documents or content
  3. Don’t forget to clean up your Facebook. Facebook is the second most visited social network among recruiters (55 percent, versus 87 percent for LinkedIn). If recruiters don’t like what they find out about you on another social network, it can kill your chances at getting hired.
  4. Don’t procrastinate - post status updates, comment and connect regularly
  5. Don’t leave your activity feed on when making changes to your profile, until you are ready to share
  6. Don’t wait for others to connect to you - reach out to them first
  7. Don’t send generic connection requests - make them bespoke and relevant each time
  8. Don’t ask for recommendations from someone you barely know
  9. Don’t forget to keep checking your Social Selling Index

References And Further Reading

LinkedIn Privacy and Notifications Share Profile Changes with Your Network

LinkedIn Social Selling Index LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn For Students For Your Students

LinkedIn Slideshare New Feature: Add Your SlideShares to Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn Exemplar Lori Bumgarner, Passion and Career Coach - Passion & Career Coach | 3x Author | Speaker - paNASH

Renovo 7 Benefits of using LinkedIn

TopResume How to Use LinkedIn Effectively During Your Job Search

The Balance Careers What to Put on LinkedIn When You Are Unemployed

Save The Student How to use LinkedIn to get a job in 2020

The Muse The Best LinkedIn Profile Tips for Job Seekers

Business Insider How to use LinkedIn to find a job

AARP 10 Little Known Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job How to Use LinkedIn to Full Advantage

Forbes Ten Ways To Use LinkedIn In Your Job Search

Strategic-IC  How To Increase Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index

Hootsuite The Complete Guide to Using LinkedIn Hashtags