Welcome to Part 2 of LinkedIn 101! Hopefully Part 1 on Making your Profile Stand Out was helpful to you in re-vamping your own LinkedIn profile, making it a more user-friendly (and employer-friendly!) professional networking platform. We’re leaning in and linking in, and today’s how-to is to help you maximize those connections, making them more than just a +1 to the count next to your name. I’m currently sitting in acapella auditions, judging aspiring aca-boppers who think we’re a lot more Pitch Perfect-y than we really are. (Spoiler alert: It’s just a movie). But, back to business. Let me preface these tips by saying: Connections on LinkedIn can very well be meaningless. They could start with a request in your virtual mailbox or by you hitting “+” on a recommended connection. And they could end right there – no further contact, networking, or career advancement from there on out. Or, they could be the first step to something. Whether you connect with someone who works in HR or someone who knows someone who knows someone, your more personalized, detailed resume is online and easily accessible (if you follower the tips in Part 1!) for them to view and share. So, let’s get started connecting…
1. First and foremost, be choosy about your connections.
Just because you have 500+ connections…it’s about as meaningful as having thousands of friends on Facebook. You don’t actually network with them all, or even know them all in real life, and (spoiler alert:) we all know it. Don’t be afraid to reject people if you have zero idea who they are or why on earth they’re requesting you. With that, though, pay attention to the titles of any seemingly strange requesters to see if there might be a common connection, employer, or interest that would’ve lead to the outreach.
2. Do your research: School, Field, Company.
There are 300 million people linking in (and counting). Become friends with the search bar and use it like there’s no tomorrow. Meaning, snoop around! (Just remember: unless you’re searching anonymously, people can see that you’ve visited their profile). Search for specific people in the field you admire, company you love, or path that you’re aspiring towards. Check out who you go to school with and what they’ve done in the hopes that they can help point you towards something stellar. This will also be extraordinarily helpful when it comes to connecting with alumni, too, so the graphic below plays double duty. Then…
3. Send invitations to 2nd and 3rd degree connections, but customize the invitation.
Just because you have a common person doesn’t mean you actually know the other. Instead of being another random invite for someone, utilize LinkedIn’s handy dandy feature of customizing the invitation message. Think of it like Twitter – you have limited characters to make an impact and have an otherwise stranger accept your invitation. When an automated note populates the message field (“Hi ___, I’d like to add you to my network!”), delete that and make it new. Make it you. Make it meaningful.
4. Connect with alumni.
There’s this nifty little LinkedIn feature that lets you see where your university alumni are now, what fields they’re in…even at what companies. Remember the second point on doing your research? Welcome to your first research assignment. It’s like Facebook stalking for professionals! First, hover your mouse over the “Connections” spot on the top of your home page. Click on “Find Alumni” and let LinkedIn do the rest, organizing alumni from your college (so long as you indicated that on your profile…) and using the information you’ve provided about yourself to best recommend potential connection matches. You’ll be able to find people based on your preferred location, company of choice, and field. Refer back to Step 2 for research tips…
5. Join Groups to max out your Interests.
Just like Facebook, LinkedIn has groups to help you find supportive communities as you further explore your career options. Under “Interests,” look around for groups that might match your own aspirations, and follow along to receive regular emails with updates from other group members. You’ll be able to share information and get (and give) support when considering some harder questions pertaining to the field.
6. Read published work.
LinkedIn is ever-growing as a means of professional social media (obviously, that’s why you’re reading up and improving your stuff like a #boss). With that comes increased communication through the site, with employers and employees alike posting their own research findings or career-oriented opinions. Click “Home”, the first tab at the top, and start scrolling through the recent postings of people, small companies, and brands that you follow. (More on following them to come in Part 3, so stay tuned for Friday!). It can be especially helpful to read published work when relevant before any interview or new job. Even if you don’t end up having direct interaction with the author, it could be a great talking point and invaluable insight into the company culture. AND, you’ve got easy tips to help advance your own life.
I hope you’re comfy n’ cozy this Monday night, already en route in creating your perfect professional presence online. Since I’ve been in auditions since 11:30 this morning and will continue to be here until post-midnight tonight, please comment with random funsies and bursts of inspiration and happiness. Or email them my way. Seriously. Please.
Have you made any cool connections or learnings through scavenging LinkedIn? Or do you have any tips for success in making that first step with someone? Be sure to let us all know in the comments!
I’ll leave you with one of the best pick-up lines evah, courtesy of an acapella auditionee:
Are you a beaver? Cos DAM.