Networking with LinkedIn and Social Media
With over 600 million users across the globe, LinkedIn is the go-to resource for professional networking.
Think of your LinkedIn® profile as an interactive business card. It’s a summary of your professional experience, interests and capabilities that is designed to attract the attention of important people who are searching for you online – recruiters, networking contacts, and graduate school admissions officers. A strong LinkedIn® profile is a key differentiator in the job market.
You'll need your own LinkedIn profile to build your personal LinkedIn network and gain visibility with employers and contacts. Create your profile using the LinkedIn tip sheets.
- First impressions count! Be sure your photo is a professional-looking headshot...no sunglasses or party photos.
- To brand yourself, create a compelling headline for your profile that refers to a unique personal strength or skill.
- Include recommendations from your supervisors, instructors, and colleagues on your profile. This will impress potential employers.
- Use professional courtesy when messaging new contacts.
- Be sure to include a few people with large LinkedIn networks among your connections – you’ll have access to a larger pool of people for networking.
- Create status updates to share personal career news and items of career interest.
- Join several groups in your career field and contribute to discussions of interest to you; you’ll build rapport with other professionals.
Connecting on LinkedIn: The 5-Point Email
One of the best uses of LinkedIn is for exploring careers. It's actually pretty simple: you use your LinkedIn contacts to find people working in careers that interest you. Then you contact them and request a career chat -- also known as an informational interview -- to learn more about their job, their career path, and what advice they might have for you. Reaching out to a stranger can sometimes feel daunting, so here are five tips for writing a good "connect" email:
1) Include your photo – People respond more readily to a smiling face than compared to a bunch of words, so be sure you have a photo on your profile – a smiling headshot containing no other people.
2) Keep it brief – Be to the point with the message. Someone who receives a short, tailored message is more likely to respond – plus, a LinkedIn invitation has a 300-character limit!
3) State connection first – By mentioning your connection first, it gives the recipient a reason to care. It will maximize your chances of getting your message read.
4) Tell them why you’d like to connect – Be specific about why you’d like to connect so they don’t think you are out just trying to add connections. However, don’t ask for a job specifically -- you may scare off your contact, who may have nothing to do with hiring. Instead, if you ask to discuss the company, the industry itself or your contact’s career path and current position, it feels more like a request for a conversation, not a job interview.
5) Maintain control of follow-up – This helps close the gap of time it may take to get back to you. For example, close your email by stating you understand they may have a busy schedule and if they are do not reply to your email, you will follow up in a week; this provides the opportunity to contact them again -- just make sure that you do!
Example of the Five-Point Email
(Character limit of 300)
Email SUBJECT: Reinhardt University student seeks your advice
I am a Reinhardt University junior and saw your profile in LinkedIn. May I have 20 minutes to ask you about your experience with Salesforce? I am exploring marketing careers in technology companies, and your insights would be very helpful. I know you may be busy, so will try you again next week if we are unable to connect this week.
Try “Googling” your name or doing a Google™ image search. If you find something you'd rather employers didn't see, contact the site's owner and ask that it be removed or un-tag yourself if you can.
Make sure to set your privacy settings so that only confirmed friends can view your information. If you are worried about what these sites say, be safe and get rid of them altogether.
Top Concerns of Employers:
- Information on drinking and drug use
- Provocative or inappropriate pictures
- Discriminatory remarks about race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
- Unprofessional screen or profile names
Bury Your “Digital Dirt”
Cover up your negative information by crowding it out with positive information. Search engines typically rank their results based on the number of sites that link to those pages. Try starting a career-based or professional blog or career-based web portfolio, make sure your LinkedIn® profile is complete, join online groups related to your career choice and comment on discussions.
**The key is to keep the new information professional and make sure the pages you want recruiters to see have more links to them than the pages you'd rather keep hidden.**
Be Mindful of What You Post
You don't know who might read tweets or posts on social media sites. Tweets and other posts may show up in Google searches and you don't want to be denied a job because you didn't think before you tweeted.
Network Before You Need To
Build your network well in advance of when you need it so you won't have to scramble if you are job hunting. Make connections in your industry and career field, follow experts, join groups on LinkedIn and join in on the discussions.