First,you want to reach out individually to everyone you already know – friends, family, neighbors, former colleagues, former classmates, EVERYONE. This may sound obvious, but many people forget to connect with the people closest to them. Remember that people are in a different mindset when they are in the professional environment of LinkedIn, so even people you see every day will interact with you in a different, more focused way on LinkedIn.
If you haven’t done this already, or did it a long time ago, be sure to upload your existing address book of contacts – from Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or elsewhere – and connect on LinkedIn to the people you already know.
Beyond your personal contacts, you have another easy network to tap into: the communities you belong to in the “real world.” Anyone with whom you share an alma mater or even an industry affiliation is a “warm” contact who may become a lead to a job opportunity. On LinkedIn, you can connect with these people by joining groups.
The more active you are in a group, the more value you’ll get out of it.Here is a screen shot of a typical university alumni association group. Here is how I advise navigating a group to get maximum benefit as a job seeker. Discussions are a fantastic place to be visible in a professional way that highlights your skills and expertise. By demonstrating your expertise on LinkedIn you earn recognition that helps you build your credibility.STRATEGIES to stand out in a group and get real value:Comment on “hot” discussionsComment on discussions started by people you want to know
One way to use groups, of course, is to post publicly to group discussions – you may catch the attention of a recruiter who is impressed by your comment, and recruiters do love to scan group discussions to discover talent.But I also recommend using groups to build more one-on-one relationships. Just like at a live conference you might have a side chat with someone or grab a coffee together.
Here is how I would approach this type of message: READThere are a few elements here that I think are important:Show genuine interest in what the person has posted. Say that you’re job hunting and be specific about what kind of position you’re looking for.Ask directly to connect and/or keep in touch.Be thankful and offer to help the person.
You can look for LinkedIn groups by industry, interest, charitable interest, geographic location and many other categories. I tend to find great groups to join by looking at the LinkedIn profiles of the people I admire and seeing what groups they belong to.
Also be sure to visit linkedin.com/alumni, a tool that allows you to dig deep into the alumni network of your own alma mater, the institution where you work or any university.You can filter the results by geographic location, employer or job function.For example, you could look at all of the San Jose State alums who live in the SF Bay area and work at Cisco Systems in the Engineering function. LinkedIn will then show you the profiles of people on LinkedIn who fit that exact criteria.
The third way to build your network is to connect with people you want to build a relationship with. Strong networks are always evolving, particularly if you’re in an external-facing role.This includes: New colleagues across the university Industry leaders Alums and friends of the university Vendors and business partners- Or anyone you want to know professionally
You can be proactive and use LinkedIn’s incredibly powerful Advanced search to find people. Let’s say you are hosting an event for MBA alums of your university and youwant to find a speaker who is a CFO in your area. Just entering those simple search criteria – CFO and your zip code, in this case, San Jose, CA, LinkedIn will show you anyone in the entire LinkedIn network who fits that profile. If you wanted to, you could limit the search only to people who attended the university where you work.
As you can see we found over 8,000 results. What do you do now? You can simply search through and see what groups these people belong to and how they describe themselves in their profiles and use this information to help you improve your LinkedIn presence.You can see how you are connected to any of these people by a mutual connection you weren’t even aware of who could make an introduction for you or by sharing a group. You can narrow these results further through the facets on the left side of the screen and see if any of these people attended your alma mater or have other things in common that might make it easier to reach out. You can see who has the Open Link badge, which means they are open to receiving unsolicited messages.
It’s extremely important to remember that as you reach out to connect with people, especially those you’ve never met, remember that it matters HOW you ask people for connections and for advice. Be careful with “How do you know” question. Be honest if you don’t know this person. People get very irritated when you say you’re a friend and you’re not. On your screen is the generic LinkedIn connection request, but I think this is a mistake to send. Show that you’ve put in some genuine thought when you reach out to people you don’t know.
This is what I recommend:Write a brief, customized, polite note to explain your connection and why you want to connect. It’s also a good idea to thoroughly read the person’s LinkedIn profile and mention something that stood out to you or something you have in common. One great strategy is to offer your help to each person you’d like to connect with. You might say something like, “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you.” Remember that HOW you build your network is just as important as why you build it.
One of the benefits of having a network on LinkedIn is that you might know someone in common with the people you want to connect with and that person can make an introduction for you. Exactly as you might do in the Real World.
If you discover a person you’d like to connect with who is a 2nd degree connection – meaning that you share a common contact – you can reach out to your shared contact and request an introduction on LinkedIn. Again, how you make the request is crucial. Here is an example.
Onto Step 4. Now that you’re building a stronger and stronger network, you want to make sure you stay on people’s radar screens. Remember that networking is not just about who you know, it’s about who knows YOU.In real life, in-person networking, showing up means going to live networking events. On LinkedIn, it means updating your profile status so people are “seeing” you regularly. On your screen you can see three examples of good status updates for higher ed professionals.
You can also keep in touch by increasing the amount of help you are giving to people in your network.This means that equally important to your updating your own status is commenting on other people’s status updates when they appear on YOUR LinkedIn homepage. This keeps you on their radar screens and may entice them to check out your profile, which might spark an opportunity or just a nice interaction.It also shows that you are not just on LinkedIn to find a job and promote yourself. The example on your screen is a reply I wrote to someone in my network who posted a question asking for people’s opinions. Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn, calls this doing “small goods” for the people in your network and it’s one of my favorite uses of LinkedIn. Give generously and you are likely to receive much more in return.
That brings us to the end of today’s topic, how to build a valuable LinkedIn network. If you have further questions or want to dig even deeper into this topic, here are two helpful resources, the LinkedIn Learning Center and the LinkedIn Help Center.Thank you for watching this video. Good luck, enjoy your networking and we look forward to seeing you on LinkedIn!
How to Build aValuable LinkedInNetwork Let’sin Higher Ed connect!
Topics 1 Connect Online with “Real World” Contacts 2 Maximize Your Group Affiliations 3 Forge New Connections 4 Keep in Touch 5 Learn More
Step 1: Connect Online with “Real World” Contacts
Create One-on-One Networking Opportunities Richard Matt 7
Reply Privately in Discussions Michelle K. RE: Bouncing Back from Job Loss Richard Matt Michelle, Thanks for the great post. As an alumni career services director I’m keenly aware of the need to bounce back from job loss and always look for resources to help our alums. I noticed you recruit MBAs like the ones I coach. May I send you a connection request and keep in touch? 8
Patrice,I am the Associate Director of Alumni Relations at SanJose State and came across your profile. Congrats onyour recent promotion! I frequently put together panelsof successful alums and would love to connect so wemight connect for an event at some point. And of courseI am always eager to be a resource to our alums if thereis anything I can do for you. Thanks for considering myrequest.
Lindsey Pollak Stephanie Lee Rachel LangCareer & Workplace Expert / VP of Marketing Owner, Elegant EventsLinkedIn Spokesperson Introduction to Rachel Lang? Tell “Dr. Steph” – Stephanie Jackson, Ph.D. why you want to get introduced (may get forwarded to Daniel Pink) Hi Stephanie, It was great to see you at last month’s networking event. Thanks for coming! I am currently looking for a new event planner to handle our upcoming fundraiser in Atlanta and saw that you are connected to Rachel Lang of Elegant Events. She is our dream caterer and I’m wondering if you would be Barbara Salinas willing to make an introduction? Thanks for considering my request and hope to see you again soon. 17