As you start trying to “broaden your horizons” in terms of careers and opportunities,
networking is going to become your best friend.
Networking comes in a variety of fashions including [but not limited to]: professional organizations, after hours work events, or my personal favorite, cold calling via email + LinkedIn creeping.
LinkedIn is a fabulous networking tool that has the potential to open many doors, when used effectively. I have actually had a decent amount of coffee dates turned informational interview turned real job interview from messages sent via LinkedIn.
My method is pretty simple. It just involves quite a bit of “creeping” and persistence.
Here is my method:
- Google companies I am interested in and make a list of those I want to connect with
- Go to LinkedIn and search for the company, then I look at the list of current employees
- Single out employees**. I do this either based on their job title, what they do day to day, how long they have been with the company, or what their picture looks like [I try to pick people that look nice].
**Don’t bombard every employee in the company though! Start with one and then if no luck there, try someone else.
- Connect with them – The very first thing I look for is their contact information. Whether it is on their LinkedIn profile, on their company website, or sometimes I even just try to Google their name and hope I get lucky. Most of the time, I’m not lucky. If I can’t find it, this is how I connect over LinkedIn:
- Send them an “InMail” – I honestly use this as my sales pitch. I tell them a little bit about myself, how I found the company, why I’m reaching out to them, and then what I want. I make sure to include what I want, otherwise they will read the message and not respond.However, the message cannot be overly lengthy. If they get it and it looks like a novel, I guarantee that no matter how nice they look, they probably won’t read it. Sample here!
- If I’m not able to send them an InMail, I send them an invite and I definitely customize it. I absolutely do not use just the generic “Hi, I’d love to connect with you via LinkedIn!” or whatever the default is. I make sure to briefly tell them who I am and why I want to connect.
Because it is an invite, word count is extremely limited. It forces brevity and to get the point – which isn’t a bad thing! Sample here!
- Wait to hear back – Working professionals are busy and until I started working, I never understood why I didn’t get an instantaneous response.
- Follow Up! I never send a message and then just give up if I don’t hear back right away. If I don’t get a message back, I follow up once or even twice. Again, working people are surprisingly busy. They may need an extra nudge or reminder before responding. I try to give about 1-2 weeks before following up the first time, and another 1-2 weeks before sending a second message. After that, I move on and start the whole process again with someone new!
Another great thing about LinkedIn is that people get notified when you look at their profile. And usually, when they see that someone they don’t know has looked at their profile, guess what they do…they look at yours back!
Neither of these images are my own. I used them from a Google image search