Follow each week as we present step-by-step suggestions to achieve post-college success with less senior year stress.
1. My profile is complete, what is the first step toward having active interactions with the people on LinkedIn who can answer my career questions or possibly help me find a job?
First, start by finding and connecting with your family, friends, co-workers and classmates–anyone who knows you and will want to help you. Don’t worry about whether or not these people work in your field of interest; the more connections you make, the better. Next, start joining the LinkedIn groups that pertain to you. You should join the obvious college and alumni groups, but also groups that relate to the field you want to work in.
2. What are some things to do on LinkedIn to get my profile noticed, so that people start contacting me?
Visit some of the groups that relate to your career of interest and post thoughtful and smart questions. The people who who can help you are likely to see those and reach out. So, for example if you wanted to work in social media marketing, you could ask something like, “What are the most important social media platforms to be experienced with?” If someone answers this, you can ask to connect with them and then begin a conversation about how they got to where they are and if they have any advice for you.
3. What if I’m not ready to start contacting people directly? How can I still use LinkedIn to my advantage?
LinkedIn can be a great learning tool. Start finding people who work in the field you want to find a job in. Check out their career path–what experiences led them to their current position? How can you emulate their route to career success? What groups are they a part of? Think of this as a non-creepy form of Facebook stalking, only this might actually benefit your future!
4. How do I know if it’s ‘okay’ to connect with someone whom I don’t know personally?
This varies from situation to situation, but in general, LinkedIn etiquette dictates that you should not try to connect with anyone whom you do not know. However, if you want to make contact with someone outside of your network, try looking to see if you have any connections in common. If you do, you could ask them to ‘introduce’ you on LinkedIn, or even better, you could email or call the mutual connection and politely ask them to email the person you want to connect with. The person you’re trying to connect with is much more likely to agree to communicate if you are recommended.
5. Okay, I’ve connected with someone whom I think might be in a position to help me, how do I initiate a conversation?
Come up with several solid, smart questions, but DO NOT start with, “Hi, can you help me find a job?” You can either InMail them or email them with a few questions and simply ask them to help you answer those questions. If you are able to start a dialogue with someone, see if you can eventually take the next step and achieve in-person contact. Ask if you can take them to lunch or coffee. People are way more likely to remember you from an in-person meeting than by your online profile alone.
Remember, LinkedIn is a great tool for online-networking, but it is not magic. It only works if you work it! So, get online and start making some connections. If you’re still unsure, here are some more tips on learning to use LinkedIn.