I’m a big fan of LinkedIn and the countless ways you can use it. Most people are not using it to the fullest (and you can do this for FREE). If you use it effectively, you stand to gain a lot in the way of connections and referrals.
Don’t just use it as a passive job search tool where you stick up your profile and wait. And wait. And wait. Or just put it up there because you heard employers want to see that everyone has a profile (old news). While great things can come from that, you can take an active role to build your network by reaching out to companies and people of interest – and you should.
Here are reasons you should use it to reach out, and in turn, build your network:
You applied to a job but have heard nothing back after a week
Your target company has a lot of job openings and you do not know which one is most suitable for you
You are interested in a particular company but don’t know anyone there
You’ve had no luck getting an interview for the job you want and would love a referral
More than 80% of jobs are filled through referrals (I know, I say this all the time, but you need to keep hearing it). Referrals are not always made by people with whom you are close – you can get in the door for interviews after having a brief phone or email exchange with someone you did not know before.
There are many opportunities for strategic networking on LinkedIn, which can bring you to your next career opportunity and ideal job. How can you use LinkedIn to connect meaningfully with others and build your network?
MAKE IT PERSONAL
So few people do this! But it will get you a response over 75% of the time. Believe me, it works.
For years in my LinkedIn summary, I had a little tip: “If you send a connection request to me, please include a short note explaining why you want to connect.” Maybe 5% of people included a note. It doesn’t require much to make it personal; in fact, LinkedIn limits the amount of text you can include so you are only able to send a few lines.
The bottom line? Don’t just press the “Connect” button when you want to connect with someone and not personalize your message. You will make a much better impression and increase your chance of getting a response to about 75%. I know this because I get responses to my personalized messages about that amount of the time.
PICK THE RIGHT PERSON TO CONNECT WITH & MAKE IT PERSONAL
Who is the right person?
If you want to check in on the status of your application: recruiters
If you don’t know what job to apply to or simply want to make connections in a particular company: hiring managers (the person you imagine would be your boss)
If you aren’t getting responses from hiring managers or recruiters: senior HR leaders
You don’t need InMails – which you get through a paid Premium LinkedIn subscription – to send messages.
How to send a message to a 2nd-degree, 3rd-degree, or out-of-network connection
Step 1: Go to the target person’s LinkedIn profile
Step 2: Click the blue rectangular "Connect" button at the top of their profile.
Step 3: Compose a message explaining why you want to connect with this person. Reference shared interests, a mutual connection, or a specific reason you admire their work. If you can’t come up with something, at least acknowledge that you know what they do, e.g., “I understand you handle logistics at Scott’s Enterprises.” Press the "Send invitation" button when you're ready to submit your request.
Step 4: Once they've accepted your invitation, if they don’t respond with a message, you can send a more detailed message by following the steps in section one of this post.
What should you write? Here are three samples to get you thinking.
I understand you lead the HR team at Crestview and you’ve worked there for 6 years. I have a background in healthcare policy, having worked for 10 years in the government and nonprofit sectors. I recently applied to the program officer role and would like to confirm that you received my resume. For your convenience, I would be happy to send it to you here. Would that work for you?
I found you because I noticed that we both studied finance. I’ve spent 8 years working for private accounting firms, and I’d like to move into the public accounting sphere because I’ve always been interested in audits. I saw a few positions listed on the Bell site, but I don’t know what the best fit would be. Would you be willing to take a quick look at my resume at your convenience?
Thank you in advance,
I noticed that we are both connected to Steve Johnson; we played soccer together in high school! I’m writing because I have a background in computer science, having started as an engineer and then moving into pre-sales and most recently, management of sales teams. I’m looking for my next opportunity. I’ve always been intrigued by Stone’s sales team growth model. Would you be willing to take a look at my resume at your convenience to see if there might be a fit?
FOLLOW UP IS IMPORTANT
People use LinkedIn messages now like Facebook Messenger or iMessages: seen and forgotten in minutes. I’m guilty of this myself. People are busy. Follow up if you don’t hear back after a week. Many opportunities to connect are lost because people do not follow up.
Here’s another great tool for connecting on LinkedIn when you are at a networking function or conference: LinkedIn Nearby. Don’t just hit “connect”! Include a personal message that tells the person why you want to connect.
Is your LinkedIn profile complete? Make sure it is before you reach out to new connections so you’re giving the first impression everything you’ve got.
If you need help building a stellar profile, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free initial consultation.