We just went over how to build your profile, now your networking strategy, like any new venture, should begin with research. Never should you just jump into something without thinking it through and planning your next move. Abraham Lincoln once said,
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
I want you to spend a few hours getting familiar with LinkedIn and how it works. Click around on the dashboard and see where it takes you. Look at various company profiles to see how you fit. Just keep clicking, you never know what you might find.
Pro Tip: when you land on another person’s profile, they receive an alert. You have the ability to browse anonymously. Here’s how: hover over your profile picture in the top right of your toolbar. A menu will appear, click Privacy and Settings, click Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile. A box will appear. At the bottom, click You will be totally anonymous. Click Save Changes.
But you might want to browse with the alerts. It’s like passive flirting. You’re looking at them, they see you looking at them, they look back, they get a familiar face. So when you finally reach out to them, they know you’ve been interested…And maybe you’ll score.
The Alumni Strategy
How did you pick your best friends? Same dorm? Maybe. Greek life? Oh hell yea! Schoolyard shenanigans? You know it.
What you have in common is the shared experience you can connect over, talk about, shoot the sh*t about. The college experience is something special, an experience so unique and dear to our hearts, it becomes sacred. Now imagine you have that sacred bond with the CEO of NBC, or a real estate mogul in New York City, or an editor at the LA Times. You’d want to make that connection wouldn’t you? Well now you can.
In your Connections tab click Find Alumni. A spreadsheet of your university’s alumni will appear before you. You have the ability to filter the list based on what they do (currently), what they studied (in school), what they’re skilled at, where they live and work, what their current position is at what company, and how you’re connected. In other words, a gold mine. A jackpot of professionals.
The work is already done for you. You now have the ability to target exactly what job you want, in what industry, with what skills, in what city, from a network of people that attended your university.
Now that you’ve located your wealth of potential new connections, I want you to open an Excel spreadsheet to stay organized. Instead of just saving tabs or bookmarks, do the adult thing and be efficient. Make columns for their name, industry, title, profile link, and correspondence.
Make a list of about 25 – 30 names. Those names should range in status as well as industry, because a lot of industries overlap. If you find C-level executives, don’t be afraid to put them down. New graduates who have been lucky to make it into a career are definitely people you should reach out to. The worst thing that could happen is that they could say no. But if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
Once you have your list, it’s now time to start formulating a strategy about how to reach out and connect with them. Part 3 will talk you through all of that.