LinkedIn: Reaching Out and Taking Names

November 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm 11 comments

By Cassidy Rowe

I have a confession to make. I underestimated the power of LinkedIn.

Sure, I had a profile replete with detailed work experiences, extracurricular activities, skills, and a professional photo. My connections included friends, work colleagues, and acquaintances. LinkedIn even ranked my profile strength as “AllStar,” but I wasn’t truly utilizing all that LinkedIn has to offer.Rowe

LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for connecting with others in a desired industry, for learning more about someone’s experience at an internship you’re interested in, or for getting more connected with a favorite company. However, it can be easy to forget that LinkedIn is a feedback loop. It is not simply a space to showcase your resume; it is a platform on which to grow your professional network and maximize your career opportunities. In this blog, I am going to walk you through some steps that will help you do just that.

Lose the fear. If you’re like me, the idea of reaching out to total strangers can seem uncomfortable–daunting even. But isn’t that what LinkedIn is for? To connect business professionals and widen your professional circles? You must lose the misconception that your invitations to connect are unwanted or unwarranted. That being said, I advocate for strategic connections, not the mass adding of strangers just to up your number of connections. So take a deep breath and click.

Personalize your invitations. I have denied my fair share of invitations to connect from strangers because they didn’t add a personalized note to supplement their invite. With over 400 million users, you are bound to send and receive many invitations, which is why you must make yourself stand out. Add one or two sentences to personalize your invitation to connect when you do not know the requested individual. Doing so reflects well on you, and it increases your likelihood of forming a more substantial connection with that person.

Follow companies of interest. I want to work in the sport business industry. I followed companies I am interested in working for, which led to my finding a neat feature LinkedIn has: ‘People Also Viewed.” You can find this feature on the right-hand side of your screen when viewing a particular company’s profile. I’ve discovered several more companies that I have added to my list of internship possibilities through this feature. Additionally, companies often post interesting articles and job opportunities on their profiles. I cannot stress how incredible it is to connect with a preferred company on this levelwithout even talking to an employee.

Engage with groups. Another great aspect of LinkedIn is its ability to connect professionals through nonprofessional hobbies and interests. Have an affinity for paddle boarding? Join groups that discuss paddle boarding. Search through groups to find professionals that share similar interests. This helps you connect on a personal level and build a foundation on something more than work related items.

LinkedIn is an incredible platform. It is designed to help you succeed in your search for a dream job. All you have to do is reach out and take names.

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Entry filed under: Job-search Communication, Social Media.

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary Tuggle  |  November 25, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Great article, Cassidy! Like you, I’ve had a LinkedIn for some time but I really don’t think I use it to its fullest potential!

    Like you mentioned, I often worry about adding someone I don’t know personally. When you reach out to someone you don’t know, how should you best tailor that message? If I add someone I do not know, they are usually UNC alumni or someone I have some kind of connection to. If you have no connection with this person, how can you make your message resonate with them?

    Do you think this would be a good message to send?

    “Hello Mr. Smith,

    My name is Mary Tuggle and I am a UNC student pursuing a career in Wealth Management. I am very interested in working at firm XYZ and would love to learn more about the opportunities there.”

    Thanks for some great advice!

    Reply
    • 2. Cassidy Rowe  |  December 4, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Mary!
      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you were able to gain something from it. I think that’s a great message to send. It gets your point across and gives a call to action. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Reply
  • 3. Alsey Davidson  |  November 27, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    I think this is very relevant. When I first began my job search, I only used Careerolina. When I started using LinkedIn, I found so many other options that I had no idea about. I think that Kenan Flagler should push for students to find job opportunities this way more.

    I also really liked the part about engaging with groups that aren’t necessarily “professional.” I have unique interests, and I never thought of LinkedIn as a way to reach out to people with similar interests. I will definitely be using that in the future!

    Reply
    • 4. Cassidy Rowe  |  December 4, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Hi Alsey,
      I’m really glad that you found this useful. Nonprofessional groups don’t really spring to mind when thinking of LinkedIn, but they can be a wonderful tool! I hope this leads to more connections in your future.

      Reply
  • 5. Michaela Rankins  |  November 28, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Cassidy, this article was very insightful. I am the very same way where LinkedIn even tells me that my profile is at the All-Star level, but I am certain that I have underutilized the site.

    In regards to the first steps, how exactly do you recommend we reach out to total strangers without a connection point? How should we personalize the message?

    I am guilty of sending the automated message to people who I don’t know and need advice about how to make a better impact while reaching out.

    Reply
    • 6. Cassidy Rowe  |  December 4, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Hi Michaela!
      Here’s an example of a message you could send:
      “My name is Michaela Rankins, and I am a student at UNC interested in (mention whatever it is that has made you interesting in connecting: career/internship advice, etc). I am very interested in (working for/learning more about) blank company and would love to hear more.”
      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Reply
  • 7. Lucas Grabbe  |  November 29, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Cassidy,

    You did a great job with this post. Personally, I did not know how to navigate LinkedIn very well before this year. Just recently, I started to add more professional groups, and you are right about finding more opportunities. I received a notification with new job openings with some of the companies I connected with. It is a great tool.

    I really enjoyed reading your take on making connections. I am hesitant at times to connect with people because of the lack of knowing each other well. I am definitely going to try to add personalize messages from now on.

    Great read!

    Reply
    • 8. Cassidy Rowe  |  December 4, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Lucas!

      Thank you for the feedback. I’m happy to hear that you utilize professional groups! Reaching out to strangers can be hard, but it can open up so many opportunities. I hope you see a difference when you use a personalized message!

      Reply
  • 9. Casey Brecher  |  November 29, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Cassidy,

    This is a very palatable and useful article. I often find myself guilty – as do many people – of forgetting that, ultimately, LinkedIn is still a *social* network, even with its professional networking capabilities. Getting involved in groups can be provide a significant opportunity to enrich the networking experience; I have seen first-hand how people can leverage their less formal groups through LinkedIn to identify new job opportunities.

    Thanks for reminding us all to be more than active “profile managers” and truly take advantage of everything this medium as to offer.

    Reply
    • 10. Cassidy Rowe  |  December 4, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Hi Casey,
      Thank you for the positive feedback! I’m happy to hear that you’ve had experiences that support some of the things I wrote about. I hope that you gained some useful tips from this to implement in your own LinkedIn presence!

      Reply
  • 11. Emma Williams  |  December 1, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Cassidy,

    I completely agree with not fully utilizing LinkedIn’s abilities. My profile is rated as an “All-Star” as well, but even though it may be complete, that doesn’t necessarily mean that others are viewing my page. As students we should definitely be reaching out to other professionals over LinkedIn and personalizing our invitations. I appreciated the class we had that focused on LinkedIn tips and I think that this blog sums up the main points of improvement.

    Great job!

    Reply

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