As a newcomer professional to Canada, you need to build up your network here. Of course you can do that by becoming a member of professional organizations, and attending conferences, seminars and other professional or social events, etc.
In the age of social media, however, you should also include in your plans one of the most powerful networking tools out there, LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a professional social network that allows you to network professionally. But unlike other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, it is a tool to be used for professional purposes only and therefore, be treated as any professional job.
Here are some suggestions when it comes to communication and collaboration on LinkedIn:
One of the tools LinkedIn offers is “Endorsements.” With a click of a button, you can endorse the skills and expertise of your contacts. But be careful when endorsing people’s skills; you should only endorse the skills of those you actually know, have met and have experienced.
Having recommendations on your profile is important, as it helps potential employers to verify your experience and know more about you. But as in the real world, you shouldn’t blanket everyone you are connected to with a request to recommend you. You shouldn’t ask someone who doesn’t know your work well, because this puts them in an awkward position. As well, if they don’t know you well, they won’t be able to give a recommendation that is strong and reflective of your experience. The same applies to you when you get requests for recommendations, as it puts your credibility and judgment to the test.
As LinkedIn is a tool that helps you build your professional network, you may be tempted to quickly send out a bunch of connection invites using the LinkedIn template. Resist that urge. Take your time to send invites to people, especially if you are attempting to connect with people you don’t know very well. The invite template has a default copy which you can change or modify to acknowledge how you know the person, why you would like to connect, etc.
Messaging your contacts is another helpful tool offered by LinkedIn. However, you shouldn’t message them early and often and indiscriminately.
As with messaging, don’t post updates of everything that comes to your mind. When updating your status or posting an interesting article you read, have a good reason for posting it on LinkedIn. If it’s a blog post you wrote on a business topic that is relevant to your field, go ahead and post it. But if it’s an interesting news article you read during the day, hold the breaks! That will only clutter your contacts’ pages.
The world is “small” and social networks make it even “smaller.” With LinkedIn your experience is out there for everyone to see, unlike your resume which may be seen by only a few. So be clear and honest in everything that you post about your experience, companies you have worked for, duties you have performed, etc.
Make sure not to take sole credit for achievements that others have contributed to as well.
Well having read all the previous suggestions, you may decide to play it safe. You may think it’s better not to update your status, not to like someone’s post or not to message your contacts. Doing so might be even worse. After all, you are on LinkedIn for professional purposes, so why wouldn’t you keep your profile updated with new skills that you acquired; update your status with relevant content that you wrote; share articles you read that may provide solutions to some of your contacts’ needs; connect with interesting people you have met at conferences and had meaningful discussions with; and join and participate in industry-specific groups where you can interact with professionals in your field, make new contacts, and contribute with your opinions, comments and expertise?
Go ahead, “socialize”, but…professionally.