Of all the job search tips I have in my bag of tricks, nothing comes close to teaching people to leverage the power of LinkedIn connections. If I have 15 minutes to coach a job seeker, this is the piece I spend time on first, even before critiquing their résumé. An effective job search comes down to networking – and nothing empowers you to network better than LinkedIn
If you’re not fully utilizing the search power of LinkedIn, you’re missing out on a networking goldmine.
Job seekers often say that they’ve neglected their LinkedIn profiles. Sometimes their profiles are only a shell. Other times they’re robust – some folks have more than 500 connections but they don’t know what do to with them.
LinkedIn can appear useless if you don’t understand the power of what it has to offer. Advanced seekers may utilize the website to see the companies that their 1st-degree connections are linked to, but very few have thoroughly explored the power of 2nd-degree connections. And therein lies LinkedIn’s magic.
In a previous blog, How to Land a Job Leveraging LinkedIn I shared some client success stories and a few pointers to tune up profiles. Now, I’ll share the logistics and etiquette of networking via LinkedIn.
First, let me define a 2nd-degree connection. Your 2nd-degree connections on LinkedIn are people who are one introduction away from being connected to you, a friend of a friend. Sometimes these connections can come through “weak” connections, as Luke Vernon of Luke’s Circle (an online job community in Boulder, Colorado) explains in this important blog on the power of networking: The Value of Lots of Weak Connections.
Here’s how to discover 2nd-degree connections:
Step One: Find your targeted company via the LinkedIn search engine, e.g., search for Amazon in LinkedIn and click through to the company’s LinkedIn homepage.
Step Two: Click on the hyperlink that will take you to “See all employees on LinkedIn.”
Step Three: Apply the filters that allow you to see 1st- and 2nd-degree connections. You may further refine the list by narrowing other criteria, such as location.
Step Four: Assess the list to determine if you have any 1st-degree contacts you didn’t realize you had. Next, determine if there are 2nd-degree contacts to whom you could request introductions. The critical factor here is whether the 1st-degree contact is someone you know well enough that they will do a favor for you. Weak connections can sometimes still serve as great introductions.
It’s likely that you are one conversation away talking to someone inside your target company.
In pursuing 2nd degree contacts, you want to try to get as close to a decision maker in your functional area as possible. If you’re in marketing, maybe you’re looking for a Director of Demand Generation or a VP of Corporate Communications. In most organizations, HR and recruiting are set up to be gate-keepers, so try to reach beyond HR into the functional business units.
Remember to treat LinkedIn as the research tool, not the communication portal.
Get off LinkedIn and reach out to that person as you naturally would, via email, text or phone.
Wondering about the proper etiquette in getting started with that first email request? Try something like this:
It’s been a while since we’ve chatted. Hope all is well. I’ve been at Wheels R Us for a few years now and am beginning to think about my next career move. In doing so, I’ve been targeting specific companies where I think I’d really like to work.
When I was on LinkedIn, I looked up Amazon and saw that you know Tina Lowery. I’m curious how well you know Tina and if you know her well enough to make an introduction.
I know if I apply online I’ll likely get lost in a black hole. I’d like to talk to someone inside the company who can help get me in front of a decision maker. Beyond that, I’d love to learn more about the company culture and confirm that it’s as great as it sounds.
Appreciate your efforts with Tina (or anyone else you may know there who could be an even better contact).
Look forward to hearing from you,
LinkedIn can be an amazingly powerful tool if you understand how to find the contacts and are clear on how to approach them. Don’t shy away from this program. Even if you’re not a big fan of social media, engage enough to fill up your 1st-degree contacts with everyone in your life. Everyone? Yes, beyond your world of work, connect with:
- · Friends
- · Family
- · Neighbors
- · Members of your community organizations (volunteer, religious, professional development)
- · The parents of your kids’ friends
- · The parents on the soccer field
- · Everyone!
And as you watch your number of 1st-degree connections grow, the next time you search your targeted company, hopefully you’ll also discover new 2nd-degree contacts to pursue.
Go forth and explore the power of LinkedIn!