Lose the “Thumbs-Up” – Instead Engage on LinkedIn

As a doctoral student, you might be figuring out your desired relationship with LinkedIn and how to effectively use it as a networking tool. Perhaps you have been instructed to create a LinkedIn profile, are already a frequent user, or cringe at reviving the profile you created years ago. Whichever the case, it is really important to have more than an account and to actually use the platform to communicate. Read on to gain an important tip that will set you apart from others using LinkedIn. 

If you already use LinkedIn, how often do you use the thumbs-up emoji, allowing for a quick reply and signaling, “I agree”, “Great job”, or “I recommend this”?  Based on my review of LinkedIn posts there are many offenders of the quick emoji click out there, and I must confess that I am not immune from using it, but I want to be!

Our instant feedback technology-driven society can leave one at the end of the day with a tally of “thumbs up” icons, which amount to simply that. Unfortunately, for the individual who posted, they don’t know what was really liked or valued, and the opportunity for meaningful conversation is non-existent. So how is LinkedIn a networking platform?

I believe that using the thumbs-up emoji may do more to convey a reluctance to take time to comment and engage than it does to show approval or agreement. Think about it, you paused long enough to use the emoji but not long enough to formulate a mere sentence or two that would engage with and provide meaningful feedback to the individual posting. 

We know that individuals typically post about things they care about and we can demonstrate our caring ways by sharing a comment. Engaging with the individual who wrote the post can include, but is not limited to:

  •       contributing to the discussion;
  •       mentioning what resonated;
  •       referencing something similar;
  •       asking a question;
  •       showing support;
  •       sharing what you learned from reading the content.

Taking time to comment, even with a sentence or two, can create opportunities for the advancement of further knowledge, the sharing of resources, possible future collaborations, dialogues across differing ideas, attention from a potential employer and so much more. 

And here’s a little secret, engaging with others can elevate the visibility of your profile on LinkedIn. So the next time you feel compelled to click on your favorite LinkedIn emoji, pause long enough to be seen as a contributor, thoughtful communicator, and engaged professional. ❤

By Kay Kimball Gruder
Kay Kimball Gruder Associate Director, Graduate Student & Postdoc Career Programs and Services | Pronouns: she/her/hers