Tag Archives: online networking

5 types of like-minded people to connect with on LinkedIn

And 3 examples of invites to send.

In a recent LinkedIn Official Blog post, the author suggests you should connect “with people you know and trust.” This seems like sound advice on the surface, but it shouldn’t be followed literally. My suggestion is to take it a step further and connect with like-minded people.

Older job seeker

By connecting with like-minded people, you get outside your comfort zone and create more possibilities for employment. Should you connect with the maximum limit of 30,000? I advise against this, as you never know with whom you’re connecting.

To its credit, the official blog suggest you first follow people to develop a relationship before you invite them to your network (make the ask). When following your desired connections, you should react to their posts and share them. Better yet, comment on their posts as well as share them.

But in order to communicate with LinkedIn members directly (without purchasing Inmails), you’ll have to connect with them.

Who to connect with

Confused? To follow someone on LinkedIn simply means you’ll see in your timeline what they post. Whereas to connect with someone means you’re in their network and can communicate with them directly. Now the question is with whom should you connect.

1. People you worked with

Your colleagues and former bosses are the first tier of your network. Treat them well, as they might be the result of you getting referred to a position—employers accept referrals from people they know and trust. By treating them well, I mean don’t ask them for a favor in your initial invite. (More about the initial invite later in the article.)

Consider the way employers prefer to hire. First, they want to fill a position with their employees, who they know; second, they take referrals from their employees, trusting their employees won’t steer them wrong; third, they ask for referrals from those outside the company; and fourth, they hire recruiters and staffing agencies.

Your job is to become an outside referral. It can be easier if you have a former colleague or boss on your side. It’s important to be able to connect the dots with your former colleagues and who they know in your desired companies. For example, someone you worked with knows the director of engineering at one of your target companies. You could ask for an introduction and a kind word from your former colleague.

2. People you meet

Have you attended networking events or industry conferences and wondered why you didn’t ask for their personal business card? I have. A better move would be asking them if you could connect with them on LinkedIn. Take out your phone, have them do the same, and send the invite immediately. Bingo, you have a connection with someone you’ve already met.

I have connected with people at business networking groups but only when I get a good feeling about them. It feels right. At this time, I would say, “It’s been great talking with you. Would you like to connect with me on LinkedIn.” If they happen to have the LinkedIn app, we can make the transaction on the spot.

You know what comes next. Of course, the follow-up. Make sure you continue the conversation by emailing or calling your new connection and suggesting a coffee date. It might be more convenient for your new connection and you to talk on the phone at a determined time. I prefer talking with new connections when I’m walking, so I’ll suggest a time when I know I’ll be strolling around my neighborhood.

3. People who are outside your personal network

For many people this is an uncomfortable connection to make. I’ve had clients say they don’t want to ask people they don’t know to join their network. My response to this is to tell them they won’t get to know valuable connections until they reach out to them. Think about the potential possibilities you could pass up by NOT connecting with the unknown?

It is important to build your network—to over 500 people—but the people in your network should be approximately 80% like-minded. What I mean be this is they should be in the same or similar occupation and industry, or the same occupation but in a different industry.

For example, an accountant in medical devices would connect with another accountant in medical devices. Not as good a fit—but a fit, nonetheless—would be an accountant in medical devices connecting with an accountant in manufacturing. To further develop their network, they would invite accountant managers and above to your network.

The benefits of creating a network of like-minded people are: first, the content you share or create will resonate with more people in your network. Second, when relationships are strongly molded, you and your connections will provide each other with leads that can result in adding more valuable people to your network or, better yet, possible job leads.

4. Recruiters

I’m often asked by my clients if they should connect with recruiters, to which I say, “Hell, yes.” Recruiters can be a great source of networking; after all, they have a pipeline of employers of which my clients are unaware.

If you are amenable to connecting with recruiters, make sure they serve your industry, particularly if you’re in a niche industry. For example, one of my clients is linguistic specialist in high tech. She translates technical jargon from engineers to other departments.

Another consideration is a recruiter’s reputation. Do some homework and reach out to common connections of recruiters to ask what they know of a few recruiters with whom you’re interested in connecting. You can also get a sense of a recruiter’s character by reading their LinkedIn profile. Although a word-of-mouth recommendation carries more weight.

5. Your Alumni

Connecting with your alumni isn’t only for students and recent grads, although many college career advisors suggest this as a first alternative. You might be interested in a company where one or two of your alumni went. Connecting with them could give you an in or, at the very least, they could provide you with more information about a position or the company.

People who went to a small college, where they’re more likely to know their alumni, will benefit from this the most. I attended a large university where I know a small fraction of the people who attended before, during, and after I did. Nonetheless, I would reach out to my alumni because we have a common bond.


How to connect with like-minded people

Obviously you first have to find like-minded people. A great LinkedIn tool to use is All Filters. I won’t go through the process of using All Filter. This post goes into detail on how to use this feature.

Now that you know with whom you should connect, let’s look at how you connect with them. The art of connecting with LinkedIn members is in the message you craft. There are essentially three types of invites.

1. Connecting directly: the cold invite

This is the least successful way of the three options to invite someone to your LinkedIn. However, it is better than indiscriminately sending an invite with a default message. One method people use that works on me is flatter such as mentioning a specific article I wrote.

Hello Bob,

I read your article on 10 reasons why you should continue to use LinkedIn after landing a job. I’ve just landed a job and will put into practice what you write. I’d like to connect with you and hopefully alert you to new positions in my new company.

Susan Pride

Note: you only have 300 characters with which to work, so your invite needs to be brief.

2. Using a reference in your invites

If you’re going to connect directly, you’re more likely to see success by mentioning a reference in your invite. This would be a common connection, someone who is connected with you and the LinkedIn member with whom you’d like to connect.

Once you have chosen a person who could be a reference for you, contact the person asking if you could use their name in an invite. Don’t assume your shared connection will allow you to use their name.

Once you have your reference’s permission, your message to a new connection might look like this:

Hi Dave,

You and I are both connected with Sharon Beane. She and I work for the MassHire Career Center as workshop facilitators. She strongly encouraged me to connect with you, indicating we can be of mutual assistance.

Sincerely,

Bob

3. Asking for an introduction

This is the most proper way to connect with new people, albeit slower. This method requires asking a trusted connection to send a message to the person with whom you’d like to connect.

Note: It’s best to ask for an introduction through email, because people are more likely to reply to email quicker than LinkedIn messages.

Here is a sample introduction sent via email:

Hi Karen,

I see that you’re connected with Mark L. Brown, the director of finance at ABC Company. I’m currently in transition and am very interested in a senior financial analyst role.

Although there is no advertised position at ABC, I’d like to speak with Mark about the responsibilities of a senior financial analyst role in ABC’s finance department. It is early on in the process, so I’m also scoping out the companies on my bucket list.

I’ve attached my resume for you to distribute to Mark and anyone you know who is looking for a senior financial analyst.

Sincerely,

Bob

PS – It was great seeing our girls duke it out in last weekend’s soccer match. I hope the two teams meet in the finals.

What to do next

You’ve probably heard this multiple times; you must follow up with the people in your network. A disadvantage of having a large network—unless you spend many hours a day on LinkedIn—is the inability to follow up with your connections the proper way. The proper way, you may wonder, is sending individual messages to each person.

The quick ask

Rarely does this work if you need a favor free of charge. Think how you would feel if you connect with someone and the next message you get from them asks for you to buy their product or, in my case, ask you to review their resume. You might feel like you need to take a shower.

The only scenario I can see this working is if you’re applying for a position which has been posted online such as LinkedIn or Indeed, and you reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager, to see if they’ve received your application. In your message you should state your interest in the position and provide three key reasons why you’re the right person for the job.

Recently this worked for a client of mine who reached out directly to the hiring manager, asking him to connect. Sure enough the hiring manager connected and my client asked if he would take a look at his résumé. My client was asked in for a round of interviews, but unfortunately didn’t get the job. Small battles lead to victory.

The slow build

A much better approach is to build relationships one message at a time. I consider it to be akin to courting a person of interest. The first message is to thank the person for accepting your invite and let them know you’re willing to help them in any way you can.

The second message might include a link to an article you thought they might enjoy. In this way you’re showing value to your connections. If you get your connections to respond to your third or forth message, now would be the time to make the “ask.” Perhaps you would like to learn more about the company at which the person works and meet them for an informational interview.

After the informational interview, be sure to continue building the relationship by again thanking the person for their time and sending a link to another article they would enjoy. You should also inquire about other people who you could add to your focused network.


This article originally appeared on Social-Hire.

Photo: Flickr, Susan_Moore_Cool

10 reasons why you should use LinkedIn after you’ve landed a job

I’ve come across thousands of job seekers who believe in the power LinkedIn provides to help them land a job. I haven’t, however, come across as many people who believe in using LinkedIn after they’ve landed. They feel that once LinkedIn has done its job, it’s time to part ways.

LinkedIn for Business

Why is that? Do people not see the value of LinkedIn in their work?

In a LinkedIn post* I wrote on the fifth of September, I asked the question, “I have a job. Do I still need to use LinkedIn?” Following are 10 versions of the reasons I provided for continuing to use LinkedIn after being hired. Some folks from career development and sales have weighed in with great answers.

1. Continue to build your network as insurance, if you need/want to move on

Unless you were born yesterday, you don’t believe that any job is secure, except for Supreme Court Justices. What if you want to move on to another position? Whether you have to move on or want to move on, having an established network of trustworthy people, will be extremely beneficial.

Susan Joyce writes, “So sad when people stop using LinkedIn after landing a new job. Unfortunately, NOT unusual. What will happen the next time they need a job—start over with LinkedIn? That means a much longer job search. Instead, stay active, support the new employer, and remain professionally visible. Much smarter!”

2. Continue to build your brand

Make sure you update your profile with your latest accomplishments. Only connect with the people who provide value, as well as those to whom you can provide value. And, yes, share posts that are relevant to your network. This is all part of branding. Read The ultimate LinkedIn Guide series to learn more.

Perhaps your interest is gaining more visibility in your new role. Wendy Schoen suggests, “If you are engaging on LinkedIn, it is much easier for others in your field to reach out to you with speaking engagements or panel appearances. These are the ways in which you establish your ‘chops’ in your field!”

3. Be found by recruiters who are cruising for passive candidates

You might have landed your dream job and think you’ll retire from the organization, or you might have landed at an organization that didn’t turn out to be what you thought it would. In either case, there are always recruiters who are looking for good talent. You want to be found.

Cynthia Wright is a recruiter. She uses LinkedIn Recruiter and warns that passive job seekers never know when they’ll be approached: “It’s a great tool, and as a recruiter, 60% of my hires are made from LinkedIn Recruiter. Most are passive candidates (those who aren’t necessarily looking for a job). As a job seeker, you just never know.”

4. Give back: let people know of openings in your organization

The best of the best networkers will continue their efforts of helping others after they’ve landed. Some of my former clients have shared openings at their company, almost the minute they’ve started their job. They were paying it forward, which is the true definition of netowrking.

Employers are hiring. The questions is who are they looking to hire. The answer is clear; they’re filling positions with people who’ve been referred by those they trust and know. Be that person they trust and know; mention people with whom you’ve networked. Bonus: you might receive a finders fee.

5. Use LinkedIn for professional development

Let’s say you’ve landed at a company where there’s no money in the budget for professional development. You can reach out to other employees in your industry, or you can use information you gather on LinkedIn. One great source for professional development is LinkedIn’s Learning (Lynda.com).

Brian Ahearn, has produced four courses for LinkedIn. He speaks about persuasion in sales, personal relationships, and coaching. I have learned a great deal about the art of persuasion from him. Check out his courses: Persuasive Selling; Advanced Selling: DEALing with Different Personality Styles; Persuasive Coaching; and Building a Culture of Coaching Though Timely Feedback.

6. Research companies and people before meetings for business transactions

Let’s say you applied for a marketing director’s position. You were smart and researched the positions to which you applied and companies who were going to interview you. Did you also research the people who would be interviewing you? You were smart if you did. Now it’s time to research people in your industry or the company for which you work.

Sarah Johnston writes: “LinkedIn can be a great place to learn about your new colleagues. Individual profiles often reveal their, past jobs and non-profit involvement. This information can be helpful during water cooler conversation. One of my favorite things to do to look at the written recommendations that they’ve given to other people. This can provide you with insight into their work relationships and qualities that they value in others.”

7. Share posts and articles of your own, as well as those of others

If you didn’t share articles or comment on other’s posts while job searching, now is the time to do it. Share and comment on articles, write posts expressing your thoughts, attach a whitepaper in Rich Media sections. You want to stay on the radar of your network (related to reason number one).

Hannah Morgan writes, “Your goal in regularly sharing articles on LinkedIn is to stay top of mind among your network. Don’t just re-share the articles, though. Explain why you are sharing them and tag several people, including the author, to make sure they see it. Commenting on posts related to your field—either from people in your network, or those you do not know yet—is a way to expand your network and solidify your relationships with existing connections.”

8. Increase business and/or visibility of your organization

If you’re a salesperson or business developer in a B2B role, using LinkedIn is a no brainer. Even if you’re not directly involved in selling products or services, LinkedIn is instrumental in building relationships. Any employee in a company can be the face of the organization.

In support of this reason, Bruce Bixler makes an excellent point: “ONLY 20% of LinkedIn is used for job search the OTHER 80% is for business enterprise, sales, networking, lead generation, entrepreneurs, business development, and even small business.” By the way, he might not be far off with this figure.

9. Use LinkedIn to find talent

You’re on the other side of the table now as a hiring manager, recruiter, or HR: you are now searching for candidates. The company for which you work doesn’t have the budget for a Recruiter account or even Recruiter Lite. Your only tool for finding talent is using LinkedIn’s Search.

No problem; you used Search to find people who were hiring. You became proficient at LinkedIn’s All Filters, which allowed you to search for people by title; current and previous company; industry, location; school; and language, if you’re looking for someone who’s bilingual.

10. LinkedIn is fun to use and teach

This is my personal reason for using LinkedIn. I enjoy the platform, more so than Facebook or Twitter. Some of my colleagues tease me for my devotion to LinkedIn (one said I need an intervention), but I shuck it off. I enjoy it for disseminating information and gathering information. This isn’t to say it frustrates me at times.

I also teach job seekers to use it in their job search; having led thousands of workshops on LinkedIn strategy and building your profile. As well, I also help clients one-on-one. Using LinkedIn is my most enjoyable part of the job search to teach. Where some might not see its value, I do.


In my LinkedIn workshops I encourage my attendees to continue to use LinkedIn after they’ve landed their next job. Many nod their head in agreement, but I’ve yet to see most of them to do it. Hopefully if they read this article, they’ll see the value of using LinkedIn after they’ve landed their next job.

Here’s to hoping.

*Here is the post I reference in this article.

3 reasons to properly endorse someone for the skills on their LinkedIn profile

How do most LinkedIn members endorse others for their skills? They click on the visible top three (like below) and leave it at that. Don’t be that person! Instead, click Show More, which expands a user’s skills list, so you can endorse them for other skills.

Kevins Skills

LinkedIn is trying to make endorsing skills more valid by asking you to choose how strong the the people you’re endorsing are with their skills (seen below). The choices are Good, Very Good, or Highly Skilled. Further, LinkedIn tells you that your choice won’t be made public to who you endorse. How much this will effect LinkedIn users SEO isn’t known for sure.

KevinsEndorsements

Then LinkedIn asks you to select a relationship you and the endorser shared (seen above). You worked directly on the same team or project with the person, managed him, reported directly to him…none of the above. Actually, you don’t have to choose any of these.

Of course there ways to truthfully answer LinkedIn’s inquiries.

You have witnessed the person perform her skills

In this case you can honestly answer the questions LinkedIn asks you in terms of someone’s level of expertise and, of course, your relationship. This is the most valid way to endorse someone for her skills.

For example, I would have no problem endorsing my colleagues for their skills. Not necessarily all skills, but many that I’ve seen them perform. And when I connected with them, the first thing I did was endorse their skills.

Maybe you’ve spoken with her over the phone or met for coffee, and by talking with her you get the impressions she’s the real deal. This isn’t as solid as witnessing her perform, but it comes close, particularly if you’re good at judging character.

His profile clearly demonstrates expertise in his skills

Some profiles are written so well that you feel you know the person as if you met them in person. He promotes himself well in his Summary, demonstrating passion, listing poignant accomplishments, and closes the loop with a call to action.

In his Experience area he hits you over your head with more accomplishments that don’t seem embellished. You dig a little deeper and find that most of his skills have received 99+ endorsements. I know someone in the 99+ club who has almost 900 endorsements for one skill.

Caveat: endorsements can, and often are, tit for tat. I spoke to the person who accumulated 99+ endorsements for each skill–rightfully so–who told me he just has a lot of friends. Which is true, he runs a networking group for business people.

Someone has referred you to the person or spoken very highly of her

Generally people won’t refer you to a person unless they know her well and can vouch for her skills. The risk of doing this is tarnishing their reputation, something no one  wants to do.

Similar to the reason number two, you read the recommendations on her profile and get the sense that those who wrote the recommendations were sincere and truthful. There is no fluff in them and the accomplishments are precise.

Caveat: recommendations can also be tit for tat. In the day when only recommendations existed as a way to award LinkedIn users for their greatness, we often saw someone write a recommendation for someone, which was immediately reciprocated.


In order to give endorsements credence, You should use these three ways of endorsing someone. It is safe to say that endorsing someone who lives across the world, if not the country is contributing to Endorsements’ poor reputation.

7 steps to take to find the right person using LinkedIn’s All Filters

Some estimates say there are more than 650 million LinkedIn users. To find and connect with the person or people who can help you land your next job might seem like a daunting task, but don’t fear.

linkedin-alone

Perhaps you’re looking for the hiring manager at one of your target companies, or an alumnus who can provide sage advice, or a corporate recruiter. Finding the person with whom you need to connect requires a focused search.

A great tool to narrow your search is All Filters. To use this tool, you must have a plan of attack. Following are the steps I would take to look for recruiters, using the following criteria:

  1. Must be an employee of the companies below:
    • IBM
    • Kronos
    • Oracle, and
    • seven other companies.
  2. A second degree connection, so I can utilize our common connections. (More on this later.)
  3. Must serve the Boston, MA, area.
  4. Graduated from the University of Massachusetts.

1. I type in Search the words: (recruiter OR “talent acquisition.) The result is approximately 3,200,000 LinkedIn recruiters. Way too many.

Recruiter step 1

2. So I jump right to All Filters; no sense in wasting time. Note: in All Filters, there’s an option to choose Industry. A practical choice would be “Staffing & Recruiting,” but the string I typed in Search gives me more options with which to begin.

3. I Hone in on my first company, IBM, which is one of the companies listed under Current Companies (see diagram below). I have 5,317 2nd and third degree connections at IBM.

4. If I want to connect with a recruiter at IBM, I should narrow the list down to 2nd degrees (see diagram below), as they will have other LinkedIn members who are connected to people in my direct network. This is important because I’ll want to mention our common connections in a personal invite. This brings the number to 348.

All Filters

5. One of my criteria is Location (see diagram above). The Greater Boston Area is one of the choices LinkedIn gives me. Other choices include India, the Greater New York City Area, and the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. I choose Greater Boston Area, which brings the number to 42 recruiters. Note: you might have to type in your desired location.

All Filters2

6. I’m almost there. I have to find recruiters who attended the same college I did. I have to scroll down in All Filters and write in my alma mater, the University of Massachusetts (diagram above.) I am left with only two recruiters that have met all my criteria (below).

Recruiter step 5

7. Finally, I need to choose a common connection who will either introduce me to one of the recruiters or allow me to use their name in an invite I send. I know just the person I would like to ask. He was a former customer of mine and a real stand up guy.

Common Connections


Repeat the process

You now get the idea of how to locate people on LinkedIn by using All Filters. It isn’t difficult as long as you know who you’re looking for. By the way, my search for Oracle and Kronos yield one result and no result respectively. I guess I need to connect with more recruiters.

It’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn

“That’s weird. I can’t connect with strangers,” my daughter said. “Look, I’m at a coffee shop. I gotta go.” And then there was phone silence.

Networking2

This is three days after she made me proud by joining LinkedIn; I imagine because her career advisor suggested she should. So, more than a post addressed at my daughter; I’m reaching out to the college career advisor who suggested my daughter join LinkedIn.

First, I need to say, “Thank you very much.” And, second, you also should tell my daughter that it’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn. It’s not “weird.”

Let me amend this statement. It’s okay to connect with the right strangers.

I get the same skepticism—which my daughter conveyed—from my older clients, but in different words. They tell me they feel “uncomfortable” asking people to join their paltry network of 80 LinkedIn members.

The short answer I give them is the idea of being on LinkedIn is to develop a network and to use it to gain assistance, as well as help others.

Then they’ll ask me, in effect, why anyone would want to connect with them. To answer their question, I explain that the power of LinkedIn is joining like-minded people. Regardless of the employment situation, my clients are still part of the workforce.

Still reluctant to connect with LinkedIn members?

I tell my clients that they should imagine themselves at an in-person networking event. They’re there because they want to meet people who can provide advice and, perhaps, information that could lead to their next gig.

Then I say there are two scenarios. The first is that they speak to as many people they feel comfortable with. They have a great time getting to know these people; it’s liberating. They’ll develop relationships with some of them; with others they won’t.

The second scenario is somewhat different. Instead of deciding to meet new people, they stand in a corner of the room and wait for people to approach them. As well, they put their heads down avoiding making eye contact. They will not develop relationships with any of them.

There are rules, though

1. Chose the right people to connect with

This is one of the rules I preach often. Know who your students will benefit from, and how they can help their new connections. Stress it’s a two-way street.

The first people your students should invite to their network are their classmates, people who are studying the same major. Engineering majors connect with engineering majors, English Lit. majors connect with English Lit. majors and so on.

Next they should connect with other majors. Bio Chemistry majors can connect with Physic majors. Psychology majors may want to be really crazy and connect with Math majors.

Next connect with students at other schools. Tell them to send invites to students at local schools, at first. There are many schools in the Boston area, so an Early Childhood Education major could connect with the like at other universities in the area.

The huge victories are connecting with the alumni of their school. These are the people who are able to help your students when they graduate from university. A business major needs to reach out to higher level employed alumni, announcing themselves as college students who would like to join their network. The best LinkedIn tool for finding alumni is “See Alumni.

This tool allows students to search for their classmates and alumni by these classifications:

  • What they are skilled at
  • What they studied
  • What they do
  • Where they work
  • Where they live

2. Know how invite LinkedIn users to their network

Students can’t just click the connect button on the profile of the intended connection, and then hit “Send Now.” Instead they must send a personalized invite. Many students probably wonder what they should write in their invite.

Have them write a generic message or two or three that fit the situation. Here are a few they can store on their desktop and modify to fit the situation.


To classmates

Hi (name). I’ve just joined LinkedIn and because we’re in the same major, would like to add you to my network. Perhaps we can learn from each other how to navigate this valuable platform.

(Student’s name)


To professors

Dear (Professor’s name)

I enjoy/ed your class and learned a great deal about (topic). I hope you don’t find this too bold, but I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn so we can stay in touch with each other. By the way, I encourage my classmates to take your class. That’s how much I enjoy/ed it.

(Student’s name)


To alumni

Dear (Name)

I’m a student at (school) and am starting to build my network. I see that you studied the same topic that I did. One of my objectives is to create focused online relationships. I understand how busy you must be. It would be great to connect and help each other when the time arises.

By the way, you and my mother worked at Dell at the same time. She’s working at IBM now.

(Student name)

3. Follow up with their new connections

What separates people who know how to use LinkedIn and those who don’t is following up with their connections. Students can’t simply invite someone to their network and leave it at that. After sending the proper invite, and being accepted, students should send a short note thanking their new connection for accepting their invite. This can facilitate more conversation.

I warn against accepting any invitation. If a student gets the “weird” feeling, it is not an invite to accept. I haven’t discussed this step with my daughter yet, but I’ll make sure that the stranger and she have a commonality, such as they are studying the same major, or have the same career goal, or simply attend the same school.


Really our jobs are not much different, dear college career advisor. We both have to help our clients get over the “weird” feeling of connecting with strangers. Tell them that other LinkedIn members are on the platform to meet people like our clients. Also tell them they should reach out to like-minded people, and that there are rules. College students understand rules.

Use “Alumni” to connect with your alumni with 3 steps

Every year, I have the honor of critiquing my fellow alumni’s LinkedIn profiles. The event takes place on the 32nd floor of a building that overlooks Boston, where the alumni and current students of my alma mater come dressed to the nines and ready to get their profiles critiqued.

caps

One thing that immediately grabs my attention is the size of a person’s LinkedIn network. In many cases, the number is quite low. When I ask the participants why, most say it’s because they have just started using LinkedIn. They ask with whom they should connect and how.

In a previous post, I explained the who and the how of connecting on LinkedIn, in which I stated your fellow alumni were at the top of the pyramid of connections — meaning this was the lowest tier of potential connections. But for current students or recent grads, the alumni network can actually be the key to building a successful network on LinkedIn.

To help you connect with other alumni from your school, LinkedIn has a neat feature called “See Alumni” (formerly “Find Alumni”) which is located on your alma mater’s page.

Here is the process of getting to this feature when you need it:

  1. Type your school’s name into LinkedIn’s search field.
  2. Select your school.
  3. Click “See Alumni.”

1. Using the ‘See Alumni’ Feature

Assuming you haven’t made any connections with alumni from your school, you’ll want to change that right away. Your fellow alumni are probably currently employed, and they may know of opportunities — or at least people with whom you can connect. Don’t ignore older alumni who may have attended your alma mater before you!

First let’s find it. Go to your school’s LinkedIn page by typing it in in the Search field. And choose Alumni at the far left.

UMass Page

Now, look at the section titled “How you are connected” on the right-hand side of the screen. You will most likely see that you have few, if any, first-degree connections. That’s alright — we’re going to focus on your second-degree connections.

Select your second degrees by clicking on the appropriate bar. The screen will shift to only show you information about your second-degree connections.

You can narrow down the results even further by using the other categories — “What they are skilled at,” “What they studied,” “Where they work,” etc. (See above screenshots.) For example, I have 7,774 alumni in my second-degree connections, but I can narrow my results down to a much more manageable five people if I set each category to the following:

– What they are skilled at: Social media
– What they studied: Marketing
– What they do: Media and communications
– Where they work: Boston Ballet
– Where they live: Greater Boston Area

2. Connecting With Fellow Alumni

One of the advantages you have when connecting with fellow alumni is the common bond you share through going to the same school. You’ll want to mention this when you personalize your invitation.

Under no circumstances should you send the default LinkedIn invite; that’s plain laziness. Instead, you should write the kind of personalized, professional note LinkedIn members expect from each other. To write a truly personalized note, be sure to read through a person’s profile before sending off your invitation!

Here’s an example invitation:

Dear Mr. Schmidt,

As you’re an alumnus at the University of Virginia and are in the field of marketing communications, I’d like to take this time to reach out and invite you to my network. Feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance.

3. Completing the Process

Your new invite accepts your personalized invitation because both of you share an interest in social media and, most importantly, are alumni of the same school.

Where many people fall down in the process is not following through. In your message, you offered assistance, so stay true to your word by contacting Mr. Schmidt via email when he accepts your invite.

Prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask Mr. Schmidt regarding the line of work he does. Make them intelligent questions — don’t waste his time. Ask him if he might know of anyone with whom you could also speak.


As I explain to the alumni and current students of my alma mater, the process of building relationships can be a long one, but developing long-lasting relationships is the key to their future success. Your fellow alumni can definitely be a secret weapon for networking on LinkedIn, so be sure to utilize the “See Alumni” feature!

This post originally appeared on recruiter.com

Photo: recruiter.com

3 times when LinkedIn is essential for your professional career

I am fortunate to lead career-search workshops and counsel job seekers individually. While some of my clients fully embrace the power of  LinkedIn to land a job, others don’t make great use of it. Some outright reject it.

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As an example of the latter, one of my clients came to me, with tears in her eyes, after a LinkedIn workshop telling me that she appreciated what I taught her, but that she wouldn’t use it. I told her that it is alright, LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.

I’m feeling optimistic today and am addressing LinkedIn members who embrace the power of this professional networking platform. There are three times when LinkedIn is essential for your professional development.

When you’re looking for a job

If you are a job seeker, your journey with LinkedIn will be challenging. You will have to develop a profile that, like your résumé, will express your value and brand you. Unlike your résumé, it should depict you on a more personal level.

Yes, you’ll include your accomplishments and maybe some of your outstanding duties; but you’ll also elaborate on your volunteerism, create an extensive list of your skills, ask and write recommendations, and more. This is your online brand, so put a great deal of effort into it.

You’ll also have to get to work on building your network. To many people this is a hard thing to fathom. Reach out to people I barely know, you may wonder? Absolutely…but only the people who will be of mutual benefit. This isn’t Facebook, so you need to develop a professional network.

But reaching out on LinkedIn to unknown people isn’t enough, you’ll need to “touch” them in a personal way. Call them on the phone. Meet them for coffee. At the very least, communicate via email.

The third piece of your LinkedIn campaign is engaging with your new connections. Now that you have a stellar profile and have developed a network consisting of quality connections, it’s time to engage with your first degree connections. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” holds true.

Direct messages are the best way to engage with one or a few of your first degree connections, but if you want to reach more of your first degree connections (and their connections); you can share articles, ask questions, answer updates others have started, and Like and comment on shared updates.

When you’re working

ResearchMany people make the mistake of discontinuing their engagement on LinkedIn. Saying that you don’t have the time or energy is an excuse. Sparing even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. I still encourage people who are working to use LinkedIn every day.

First, announce your new job, if you haven’t already. Let people in your network know; they will see your Happy Landing in their homepage timeline. You will be congratulated on your new employment.

As well, be willing to alert your networking buddies to available jobs at your new company. Many of my clients have alerted their buddies to positions that are opened, and not necessarily advertised. This is the true definition of “paying it forward.”

Update your profile. Whenever you achieve an accomplishment, add it to your new position. If you don’t do this shortly after you’ve achieved an accomplishment, you may forget about it. Another reason to keep your profile updated is that you’ll be more desirable to potential suitors.

My valuable LinkedIn connection, Laura Smith-Proulx warns that you may not want to be too present on LinkedIn. You’ll want to update your profile slowly, as to not draw attention from your new employer to your profile.

This doesn’t mean you can’t stop learning while you’re working. You can read posts written by your connections or your favorite online publishers. Do this during lunch, or when you get in early in the morning, or at home. This could be your 10-minutes a day of using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is not only a great tool for finding a job, it’s highly effective for generating business. If your role is in sales, business development, or any other position which requires networking; use LinkedIn to reach out to potential business contacts. This, after all, is why LinkedIn was created in 2003.

The best of LinkedIn’s premium accounts for sales is Sales Navigator, which provides salespeople with the ability to identify potential buyers and tag them to keep their CRM manageable. As well, you get unlimited searches. This is a premium account that your company will most likely pay for if they value generating sales leads.

Read 6 reasons to use LinkedIn after you’ve landed a job.

When you’re in school/post grad

Elevator Your FutureRecently I conducted a webinar for college students and grads, addressing the importance of creating a powerful profile and connecting with LinkedIn members.

Although as a college student your profile may not be as developed and your work history not as extensive as people in the workforce for many years, you can still use LinkedIn to find employment or internships.

This is a great time for you to get on LinkedIn, while you have the opportunity to build your LinkedIn campaign. I call this getting on the elevator on the bottom floor. You have the opportunity to build up your network with quality connections.

Valuable connections can be alumni of the school you’re attending or have graduated from. These are people who have an affinity for their alma mater and, as an extension, an affinity for you. Think networking meetings when reaching out to them.

However, as someone who could provide you with great advice or even solid leads, they will only do so if you come across as a mature, dependable person. They will want to help but don’t want to waste their time.

How do you find your alumni? The answer is simple; use LinkedIn’s Find Alumni feature, which is done by typing your university in the Search feature, choosing School or Company, and then clicking See Alumni. You can search “alumni by title, keyword or company.”

One disadvantage you’ll have to deal with is the inability to rearrange your profile sections. As of now, your sections are arranged as such: Summary, Experience, Education, and others. Many students and post grads can benefit from showing their Education section below their Summary, as it is their most recent accomplishment.

The solution to showing your value is to pack your Experience section with industry-related employment or internships. The smartest students secure as many internships as possible during the school year or summers.

When describing your internship or industry-related employment, be as descriptive as possible. At your age, you may not have the outstanding accomplishments that older workers can tout. But most employers will understand your lack of work experience as long as you’re a quick learner and work hard to get up to speed.


Whether you’re a job seeker, employed, or a college student; LinkedIn can be extremely helpful for your career development. The way you use it will vary, but many of the principles are the same.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, visit this compilation of LinkedIn posts.