With more than 300 million users worldwide, LinkedIn has established itself as the leading professional social networking site on the web. LinkedIn’s strength lies in its capacity for forging and promoting connections, making networking that much easier. From former coworkers to alumni from the same high school, users build their network through connections, which can lead to insightful conversations about industries and companies, as well as interviews. In a competitive job market filled with multi-step online applications and automated emails, LinkedIn offers the chance for potentially beneficial human interaction.
Here are five tips to help you make that initial contact with a potential employer:
1. Don’t be scared
It may feel weird messaging a person you haven’t spoken to in a while or at all, especially when you want to work at the same company. Yes, people may not always respond to your messages or connection requests, but that should not deter you from reaching out and trying to benefit from your connections. Remember: You have more to gain than lose!
2. Do make contact
Connections are hands down the best way to land a job. If you see that one of your connections works or has worked at your dream company, ask him/her about it. Express interest in working for the company, and ask if your connection would be willing to tell you more about the company and share any advice for applying. As you learn about the company through subsequent conversations, be sure to convey your interest and your knowledge of the industry.
If none of your connections work at the company, check to see if there’s a second-degree connection (your connection’s connection) who has a history with the company, and if there is, ask your connection to put you in touch. Again, express your interest in the company and your desire to speak to someone with inside knowledge to further your understanding.
Lastly, in the event that your connections have no association with the company, you can use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to locate any alumni who work there.
3. Don’t come across too strongly
Never explicitly ask for a connection to help you get a job, especially not during the initial conversation. Conversations and messages with a connection are an opportunity to learn more about the company, so that you can present yourself as the most qualified candidate.
Over the course of the conversation, you will probably gain a valuable contact who is willing to put you in touch with the right people, but do not try to force your connection’s hand too early. Keep your introductory message simple and brief; express your interest in the company without writing a manifesto. Sending out a message to a connection, especially with whom you aren’t regularly in touch, can be uncomfortable, but as long as your message is well written and well intentioned, you’ll be good to go.
4. Update your profile
When applying for a job, your main objective is to make the potential employer see and understand how you are a perfect fit for the company. One of the easiest ways to convey this is by having your LinkedIn profile highlight the skills and qualifications the company celebrates. In order to uncover these desirable skills and traits the company values, scope out profiles of current employees and see how they describe their experience and skills. Using similar language and emphasis on your profile will help you come across as a more attractive and qualified candidate to your potential employer.
5. Don’t skip personalization
Some people omit summaries in their LinkedIn profiles, which is silly because the summary section gives users the opportunity to express themselves in their own words and distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. Summaries also allow users to express their career objectives while painting a cohesive narrative with their job experience, ultimately bringing life to a list of skills. In that same vein, including a picture can enhance your profile by adding a face to a page, but casual, unprofessional photos can serve as distractions. Choose a professional, flattering photo of yourself to accompany your profile.
Mandy Fricke works in community relations for Earn MBA Degree. Outside of work Mandy enjoys biking, reading and traveling.