Networking with LinkedIn

What is LinkedIn?

http://www.linkedin.com

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 120 million members and is growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broad network of professionals.

Getting Started on LinkedIn

Establish your professional profile

LinkedIn gives you the keys to controlling your online identity. Have you Googled yourself lately? You never know what may come up. LinkedIn profiles rise to the top of search results, letting you control the first impression people get when searching for you online. Make sure to include a picture on your profile. You are more likely to get responses to messages and discussions and will be easier for people to find you when you have a picture.

Stay in touch with classmates, professors, colleagues, and friends

In today’s professional world, people change jobs and locations constantly. By connecting on LinkedIn, your address book will never go out of date. Your contacts update their profiles, keeping you current with their latest jobs, projects and contact info. You’ll stay in closer contact with great tools to communicate and collaborate.

Find experts and ideas

Tools like Answers and Groups let you locate and interact with experts through trusted introductions. LinkedIn Search lets you explore the broader network by name, title, company, location, and other keywords that will help you find the knowledge you’re looking for.

Explore opportunities

Whether you’re looking for a job, an internship, or are interested in building your professional reputation, LinkedIn is a great resource.  With a powerful search engine, company research tools and a jobs board that shows who you know at listed companies, LinkedIn is the place to turn for new opportunities.

Send Personalized Connection Requests

When you first send a possible contact an invitation, do it from his or her own profile page by clicking the Add to Your Network link.

By adding people this way, rather than simply going to the Add Connections tab, you can send a personalized message such as “Thanks for talking with me at the Legal Eagle event! It was great to meet you,” or “We worked together at company X.  So great to catch up with you here.”

This gives you the opportunity to remind the contact where you know him or her from. This is particularly useful if you’re getting back in touch after a long period of time, say from an old job or internship.  It is important to have a profile picture so that you are easily recognized.

Ask for Recommendations

Recommendations are a valuable part of your LinkedIn profile and could be the one thing that stands out most.

In the subject line, ask something like, “Are you able to write a recommendation for me based on our relationship in your classes the past few semesters?” in the main body. Don’t make the request too long, but be clear on what you want a recommendation for.

If you’re asking a previous or current supervisor for a recommendation, you could change the message to say, “I am happy we are able to connect.  If you feel that you’re able to write a brief recommendation about how you found/find my performance and skills in my position at company X, I would appreciate it. I totally understand if you would prefer not to. Kind regards…”

Please remember, first impressions count, so don’t let all of your hard work be undone with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Ask yourself, if you were meeting face to face, what would you do differently?

People easily judge on first impressions, so make yours a great one, each and every time you connect.

EagleConnections

Once you have joined UMW’s Student and Alumni group for career networking, EagleConnections, do the following:

Start a Conversation with Other Group Members

LinkedIn makes it easy to send messages to other members who are not in your network, as long as you are in a group with them.  Search the group members to see if anyone is working for a company you want to work for, or went to graduate school for a degree you are thinking about pursuing.  Search your major to see members who also graduated from UMW with that degree.  Explore what those people are currently doing professionally.  Search a location to find members who are working and living in a geographic location that you would like to live in or are returning to after graduation.

When you find a group member you want to talk to, hover over their profile and click “Send Message.”  Now it is up to you to do the rest.

It is recommended that you start off by telling them who you are, why you are writing to them, and that you are just seeking advice.  You DO NOT want to immediately ask “Do you know anyone hiring?” or “Do you have any jobs?”  Instead try “I saw that you went to UVA for law school.  I am really interested in applying to UVA Law.  Do you have any advice or tips for me?” or “I am graduating with a degree in history and exploring career options.  Since your major was history, do you have any advice or suggestion on fields or jobs I should look into?” or “What is it like to work for the Environmental Protection Agency?” or “Was it hard to get a job with the federal government?  Do you have any advice for me as I am considering applying for a few jobs.”

The topics are endless.

Participate in Discussions

The most “popular” discussions within a group generally get the most visibility. These are the topics where members are most actively engaged and they feature discussions that you will want to weigh in on. The most popular discussions are at the top of the group discussion page, and typically there will be quite a few comments associated with them for you to review and learn from.

As you weigh in on popular discussions, respond to existing comments, provide an insight or opinion or even ask a thought-provoking question to generate additional comments. You can also “Like” and “Share” these discussions with your connections.

If your comments add value to the popular discussions, members will begin to recognize you as a thought leader within the group.

Start Your Own Discussion

In starting your own discussion, pose a question, ask for help or advice or post a relevant and interesting article or resource for the group’s benefit. Your goal with starting your own discussion is to encourage as much engagement as possible.

In this group, it is appropriate to start discussions to promote yourself or inquire about positions.  Let the group know who you are and what you are looking for, whether it is a job, an internship, or grad school advice.

IF YOU DON’T START THE CONVERSATION, YOU’LL NEVER KNOW HOW IT COULD END!

If you are an alumnus and have joined EagleConnections, you are encouraged to start a discussion describing your background and what types of advice you are willing to offer.

Follow Up and Follow Through

One of the disadvantages of LinkedIn Groups is that it’s difficult to keep up with updates unless you proactively visit the group as recommended. Make sure to keep up with the conversations you’re participating in.

Don’t let too much time lapse and don’t leave a conversation open. Keep your comments fresh and interesting to demonstrate your commitment to the group.

some content derived from Linda Coles, Social Media Examiner