Now that your LinkedIn profile is up and in tip top shape, it’s time to think about how, as a college student, you are going to connect with other LinkedIn members.
It’s time to develop your online network!
To help you do this, LinkedIn has a neat feature called Find Alumni, which is located in the Connections drop-down menu. This is an important feature because you’ll want to connect with Alumni often. Why? Because they’re probably currently working and may know of opportunities or, at the very least, other people with whom you can connect.
Let’s take a look at how you can leverage that feature to grow your network…
Finding Alumni with Whom to Connect
First, go to ‘How You’re Connected’ to the far right of the second screen. Most likely you have very few, if any, 1st degree connections. That’s alright. Focus on your second degrees. Select your 2nd degrees by clicking on that bar. You’ll see the other categories shift, the numbers decrease. This narrows your search for potential alumni contacts.
If you’re a communications major, you’ll focus on people who are connected with you under ‘What They Do’, e.g., Media and Communication. Look at where they work, what they studied, what they’re skilled at. This will give you a sense of your commonalities, as well as some talking points when you connect with them.
Connecting with Your Alumni
The largest advantage you have is your common bond with people who are going to school with you or who have attended years before. When you attempt to connect with them through their profile, the option ‘Classmate’ has already been chosen for you.
This is where, as an aspiring LinkedIn professional, you need to carefully craft your invite messages. Under no circumstances will you send the default LinkedIn invite; that’s plain laziness. Instead, you’ll write a personalized note, which will show the professionalism LinkedIn members expect from each other.
Note: Even though you can hit ‘Connect’ under the person’s photo, it’s still best to open their profile and choose to connect after reading it thoroughly.
Here’s what you might write after reading your potential connection’s profile:
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.
I look forward to being of assistance.
Completing the Connection
Chances are, the person you’ve contacted will accept your personalized invitation because both of you share an interest in Communications and, most important, are alumni. In your invitation you mentioned being of assistance to Mr. Schmidt. Where many people fall down in the process is not following through on that promise.
Be true to your word by contacting him via e-mail when he accepts your invite. Also write down some 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 who you could also speak with. Finally, tell him you’re at his disposal should he need assistance.
The process of building relationships can be a long one. Because you’re still working on your education, though, you have plenty of time to develop long-lasting relationships.
Pace yourself. Be deliberate and considerate. After all, these are connections that can be of great help to you once you’ve graduated college.
For this post, we thank Bob McIntosh at Things Career Related!
About the Author: Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center. Jobseekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Follow Bob on Twitter and LinkedIn.