Branding yourself online today is more important than ever. Employers can simply google your name and learn almost everything about you. That’s why it is so important to not only be careful about what you post online, but to post intentionally.
Many of you have LinkedIns, but are probably confused about how to really leverage this social media platform. When you connect with someone, what do you do? How can you turn another virtual connection into something that’s actually meaningful? How do you even decide who to connect with? In this quick guide, I’m going to explain how I leveraged LinkedIn during my senior year of college to build real relationships and even get internal referrals to companies I wanted to work for leading to job interviews.
Step 1) Make a list of companies you are interested in
Step 2) Search for alumni from your university who work at that company
Step 3) Send a connection request to the alumni you found with a message that says something like this
“Hi X - My name is Amina Gerrbi and I'm a senior at Georgetown. I saw that you also went to Georgetown and work at Y Company! I'm in the midst of learning about different career paths and would love to connect with you so that I can get your advice.” - Amina Gerrbi
- Sending this message is crucial because not everyone accepts all new connections, so when they read this they will 1) see that you have something in common (Their university) and 2) See that you are seeking advice. Of course, not everyone will be willing to connect and help you out, but the truth is, human beings inherently want to help, and you will be astonished by the amount of people who are willing to help you out if you simply take the initiative and ask.
Step 4) When they respond ask for a 10-15 minute phone call in the next two weeks.
Step 5) Prepare open ended questions for the phone call that show you are genuinely interested in that person, that field, and that company
- This will not only give you all the information that you need, but will build that relationship you want with this person who was a complete stranger before this phone call
- Now you not only have a college in common, but common interests, and this person will probably start to like you
Step 6) Do not ask the person for a job, but do tell them that you are interested in the company
- Sometimes this person will really have no power in the hiring process, but you telling them that you are interested in the company may lead them to offering to review your resume, pass it along, connect you with others in the company, or even give you an internal referral which is often the only way to get into competitive companies.
- Even if they don’t offer any solid next steps to help you, you haven’t lost anything because you still got to meet someone new, learn about them, and clarify if what they do is truly something that you want to do
Step 7) Send them a thank you message and follow up
- This is one of the most important steps of the process. Just because you had a quick call with this person doesn’t mean they’re going to remember you long-term. Make sure to show them your gratitude and keep in touch with them regularly.
- Stay engaged with their LinkedIn activity by liking and commenting on their posts
- Share articles, videos, resources, and ideas they may find interesting based on the conversation you had with them to help them remember you
- Connect them with other people who you think would be able to help them with their goals
- The biggest mistake that I make when building relationships online is taking that first step of getting to know someone, but then not staying in touch regularly causing the relationship to die down.
I hope that this quick step by step guide will help you be more strategic when using LinkedIn and lead to better relationships, better research, and more internal referrals and job interviews for you!
-Amina Gerrbi, Founder & CEO of Muslimah Society