When talking about social media and networking for business, most of us immediately think of Facebook and Instagram, but how many of us are utilising LinkedIn as well?
For many years, LinkedIn has been seen, for the most part, as a recruitment platform. You could set up a profile, upload your resume and hope to get noticed. However, just as the business world is evolving at a rapid rate of knots, as is LinkedIn. There is massive potential in this underused platform to excel your career – and Alex Pirouz is here to show you how.
Alex has been an entrepreneur since the age of 13, having tried his hand (and unfortunately losing out on) four businesses by the age of 26. However, in true entrepreneurial spirit, Alex did not give up and was able to successfully scale and then sell his next two businesses. His passion for helping people evolved into his next venture, an advisory firm, where he learned the power of clever networking and relationship building through LinkedIn after a mentor suggested he take a closer look at the platform.
In just six months, Alex had made 330 meaningful connections and had begun connecting with for major publications such as Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Forbes, Hubspot and Business Insider, for which he was then able to write for. He began to have more queries about LinkedIn than for his advisory firm, so he pivoted his business to become Linkfluencer – teaching others how to build their brand and thrive in a competitive market through effectively utilising LinkedIn.
He made it his mission to transform social selling, unlocking the potential for this platform to propel other entrepreneurs and career-driven individuals to the next level.
When Alex first began teaching people about LinkedIn six years ago, it still held the purpose for many as simply a space for holding an online resume. However, two years ago Microsoft bought the platform and things began to change significantly. There are now over 700 million users worldwide.
One of the main differences now is the ability to add content, which Alex believes is one of the key success factors for effectively utilising a LinkedIn profile.
“Some of the biggest positives people find with LinkedIn, as opposed to other social media platforms, is that they are learning and getting content from some of the best creators in the world and they are getting educated. They are able to make solid business connections, as opposed to Facebook, where people are posting up stuff about their morning coffee or meeting up with friends,” Alex said.
“Building your personal brand and influence is a big goal for a lot of people, and if you are a business, there is no better platform to do that than LinkedIn.”
How to build your career through LinkedIn
Whether you are looking for a new career, building your personal branding or seeking prospects for your company, LinkedIn is immensely valuable. A great LinkedIn profile will showcase not only your qualifications and experiences, but who you are as a person and what you can bring to an organisation on a broad scale.
“You can write whatever you want on your resume, but a good profile picture, a good story about who you are, your experiences, recommendations and endorsements, the people you follow, the content you are putting up – that can’t happen on a resume. Sharing your journey – that can’t happen on a piece of paper,” Alex said.
“You’ve got to have your online footprint in order, otherwise you are just not going to make it. It shows you are progressive, which is what a lot of companies are looking for now.”
How do you use LinkedIn to excel in your career?
1. Be proactive – do your research
LinkedIn is easy to navigate and allows you to seek out influential people in your niche. Take some time to do your research and find out who the key decision makers are when it comes to recruitment in your area, or who you would like to eventually work with.
“For example, if I was going for a job with an IT company, I would gather some insights into who I am going after for the job and finding the key decision makers in that company on LinkedIn, then I would be connecting with them and writing; ‘Hi, I have recently applied for a job with your company, I would love the opportunity to meet with you’. Just that extra touch could be the difference between standing out amongst the other 50-100 applicants or fading away into the piles of resumes,” Alex advises.
2. Be aware of the sales process – make the connection, but don’t be pushy.
There is nothing quite as off-putting than someone directly messaging with their latest offer, hard-sell or over-enthusiastic sales spiel. Go gently with your connections and message them personally with some content around each communication. Alex’s advice is to never send blanket messages, take the time to show each new connection that you care and be genuine in your approach.
“Understand the sales process and always ask yourself how LinkedIn fits into that. For example, rather than writing to a contact and saying ‘hey, I’d love to come in for an interview’, which might come across as a bit salesy, send an invite with ‘hi, I came across your job ad on Seek I have applied and thought I’d reach out and make a connection as well’. Take an extra step to build that relationship,” Alex said.
3. Connect only with relevant people
There is a difference between a network and a community – and it is a community you want to foster. These people not only know you, but like and trust you as well, which is key to successful sales in any form.
“Make sure you are only connecting with the right people, it’s not about the number of followers. Too many people just go and send out impersonalised messages to non targeted people. This just creates a network of non-relevant people and you won’t get the business or the right role,” Alex said.
Once you connect with someone, you will start seeing their content and vice versa. So, by connecting with relevant people in your field, you are able to stay top of mind when it comes to a career opportunity or interesting project.
4. Share quality content
Alex’s advice is to regularly share content mixed between educational and personal, using text, images and videos to keep it fresh.
No matter where you are at in your journey, you have content to share. Draw on your own experiences and write about your relevant background, an anecdote, a turning point in your career or a specific lesson a mentor or influencer has taught you. Whether from working in your field for many years, or going through your training and education, you will have interesting and value-adding content locked
“Most people are just afraid to write content because they feel they aren’t worthy or that their content isn’t going to be good or they aren’t going to get much traction – but if you are only posting up content once in a blue moon, you aren’t going to get that traction! You’ve got to be consistent,” Alex said.
“They key is to get people to buy into you both on an intellectual level through educational content, as well as an emotional level through personal content. Always provide value to your audience”
5. Be clear on your desired outcome.
Through all your calculated connection building on LinkedIn, keep your endgame in mind. Do you want to land your dream job? Do you want to build a client base of targeted businesses? Do you want to be picked up by particular media outlets to bolster your standing as an expert in your field?
Know how long it will take to foster each relationship and bide your time until it is the right moment to take action.
“I always ask myself, how can I provide something meaningful for this person over the next 6-12 months without taking anything in return? Because, I know that in the end, I will win,” Alex said.