Last updated: February 28

Planning Your Exit Strategy? How LinkedIn Can Help. 

LinkedIn networkA corporate client recently contacted me to help him with a research project—to identify a list of ideal COO candidates for his company.

As the CEO of a growing biotechnology manufacturing company, he told me he doesn’t have time for that stuff: “I consider LinkedIn my personal Rolodex, but aside from that, I don’t really use it.”

Of course I was delighted to help with the project. Although I do not consider myself an expert on LinkedIn (after all—who can keep up? It’s constantly changing) I do understand the power of the tool.

If you are at all reluctant to get involved with LinkedIn, understand that hiring decision-makers (including CEOs at all levels) are using LinkedIn to find people to help their companies grow.

In fact, according to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey,

“…social recruiting is now the norm—93% of recruiters use or plan to use social to support their recruiting efforts.”

Plan to be found—even if you are planning your exit strategy for years from now!

  • Don’t Dismiss LinkedIn as Something Only for People Who Are Looking For a New Job. The best time to build your LinkedIn profile, connect with people, and participate on LinkedIn is now, before you need it. If you find yourself suddenly unemployed and decide that now is the time to start using LinkedIn, you’re going to be playing catch up. Instead, take time to “dig your well before you’re thirsty,” as author Harvey Mackay says.
  • Don’t “Set it and Forget It.” Your LinkedIn profile is an evolving evolution of you. You should be updating it regularly with new connections, status updates, and activity (especially within LinkedIn Groups).
  • Don’t Ignore It. Check LinkedIn regularly. If you read the newspaper each morning, set aside time then to check your profile. Want to get bold? Add one new status update each time you log in.
  • Don’t Be A Wallflower. LinkedIn is most effective when you engage with it. Seek out opportunities to connect with thought leaders in your industry. Join 3-5 Groups and participate in conversations.
  • Don’t Be Selfish. You will get more sizzle from LinkedIn if you focus on how you can help others, not how they can help you. The phrase “give to get” is very powerful on LinkedIn. You can earn the respect of your peers and people of influence if you “help enough other people get what they want,” in the words of Zig Ziglar.
  • Don’t Wait For Others To Find You. Use the LinkedIn People Search function to look for people you know and invite them to connect with you. You should aim to add 2-5 new connections each week if you are a passive job seeker, and 6-10 connections a week if you are actively searching for a new job.
  • Don’t Forget to Explore the People Your Connections Know. One of the most powerful functions of LinkedIn is the ability to connect you with people who are connections of the people you know. Follow LinkedIn’s guidelines on connecting with these folks, however (using InMail or requesting connections through your mutual friend), so that your account is not flagged for spam.
  • Don’t Indiscriminately Try to Connect With People. One of the strengths of LinkedIn is the connections you make, but it’s not a race to get to 500 connections. Have a reason for each of the people you connect with — either it’s someone you already know or are related to, or someone it would be beneficial to connect with. If you don’t know someone, get to know them a bit before sending a personalized connection request. (You can do so by seeing who you have in common — or who they are connected to, checking out their LinkedIn summary and work history, visiting their website or blog, and seeing what Groups they belong to).
  • Don’t Forget to Check Out “LinkedIn Pulse.” Visit and see a roundup of stories that LinkedIn thinks may interest you. Check out these stories to stay abreast of important information in your industry.
  • Don’t Forget to Give Recommendations. Acknowledge and recognize the contributions of people you know by providing unsolicited, genuine Recommendations for them.

Bonus Tip:

  • Don’t Restrict Your LinkedIn Networking to Online Only. Use LinkedIn to connect with your networks while traveling to other cities. When you’re planning your next business trip, visit your LI profile to see who you know in that city and then reach out for coffee, lunch or dinner.

If you’re one of the 5% of executives leveraging the power of the hidden job market, this is one strategy you’ll want to execute on today.

We look forward to welcoming you into the Westgate Family of success stories.

About executive resume writing author 

Westgate - Maureen Farmer, helping C-level executives step up or step out.

Maureen Farmer is the Founder & CEO of Westgate Executive Branding & Career Consulting Inc., an international personal branding and career consulting firm delivering premier executive branding and career consulting services for high-profile leaders. Author of The CEO Script Vault: Job Search Scripts for Busy Executives, Maureen believes that when we’re doing work aligned with our values, everyone wins. Using the law of attraction to identify quality employers utilizing the hidden job market is a cornerstone of her career management strategy.

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