My Personal Success Stories:
- If You're Relocating - A couple years ago, I had an HR professional reach out to me who was relocating from the East Coast. She sent a connection request and then messaged me her story. I could tell from her note that we had a lot in common, and she seemed like someone I would want to hang out with. Fast forward a couple months, and we set up a double date with our spouses, hit it off and became great friends. We now both have little baby girls and would never have found each other if it was not for LinkedIn. The things to note from this story are that she did not ask me for a job. I could tell she was going to be able to land one on her own merits, and she shared enough about herself that allowed me to see what we had in common which made me open to meeting her in person.
- Lunch with New Friends - A new venture of mine has been to meet and go to lunch with new friends I meet solely through LinkedIn. I have done it successfully three times with great results. None of them were weird, and all of them were genuine people I am so grateful I had the chance to meet. I will say though that each of them had another connection to me aside from just a cold LinkedIn connection which I will touch on later in my tips below.
- Looking for Employment/Advice - A couple bright young professionals have found me via LinkedIn and asked for job search advice. I am happy to report that many of them have gone on to find full-time employment. The power of making connections and putting yourself out there is invaluable when it comes to landing your next opportunity. The key is having the genuine desire to grow and personally develop yourself and not just ask for a job. Several people message me a week asking for a job. 99% of those people will not get one with my company. What you have to remember, is that how you ask me for a job, is a direct reflection of the kind of future employee I envision you would be. If you blindly message me and ask me to find you a job, without taking the time to actually look at the company website to see what we have open, then I am going to have to assume you are a little lazy. I will end with that. Justified or not in my conclusion, you gave me no other evidence to go by. Keep that in mind.
5 Tips for Making Successful Connections via LinkedIn:
- Do Not Look For a Handout - Do not contact someone with the sole intention of just asking for a job. People are not going to do all the work for you. Instead approach someone you genuinely admire based on their profile, compliment those achievements and then ask to connect over coffee or lunch to share their story of success and advice on your job search. Let them know what type of company you are looking for and the kind of role you are targeting but do not ask if you can interview for a job with their company. If they have enjoyed the conversation and been impressed with you, they will make the connection on their own if they have an open role that you match.
- Do Your Research - Do not blindly spray connection requests and hope that one lands. Make sure that you are being thoughtful about who you are choosing to connect with and that you have actually read their profiles. If you are lucky enough to get a phone call or coffee, be sure to have done your research on the company that person works for and their own career path to the present. Nothing looks worse than getting a meeting and getting asked why you picked them out of a crowd, and not having an answer. It is the fastest way to losing credibility that there is.
- Be Transparent and Genuine - Be vulnerable and customize your message for each person. I own that I am an introvert, and I use it to my advantage. I think a lot of people can connect with feeling shy and being intimidated by the thought of networking. I openly say that I have all those feelings but that I still want to put myself out there and meet new people. In some of my connection requests, I simply say that I am an introvert trying to get out of my comfort zone to connect with other local professionals. It is the truth and people connect with that. So do not be afraid to share your fears or name the elephant in the room. It is refreshing and will make you stand out.
- Please Do Not Be Creepy - Everyone has their own comfort zone, so respect that. Some people will never connect with strangers and that is their right. Do not bother those types more than once. You will get bitten. Apologize and let them know you meant no offense. Other people will just not respond. Do not take it personally. Many people also do not actively check their LinkedIn account, so responses can be slow or never come. People like to avoid confrontation if they can and usually do not like to give negative news, so if someone does not want to have lunch or coffee with you, sometimes the easiest response for them is just to ignore your request. Respect the no response and move on.
- Be Creative and Be You - Along with being genuine, but even more so, stay true to who you are. You will want to stand out, because social media can be noisy and spam-y. Make sure your approach is human, and not simply self-serving. People can smell that a mile away. Also, as I mentioned above, it will take a little more than just a cold LinkedIn connection. In the cases of the three lunches I had, I found other things in common first. One person, we had actually interviewed over 4 years ago but was ultimately out of our price range. I had genuinely been impressed by her professionalism and knew she currently works with one of my former colleagues so I used both in my message to her. Another person was on the committee of an organization whose networking event I wanted to attend, and the most recent individual I met, though I did not know it at the time, also worked with a former colleague of mine who was able to vouch for me and confirm that I was not a weirdo or a creep ;) So I think the moral of the story is people want to know that you are being real, that you are not selling something, and that you really just want to make a genuine connection. If that is not the foundation for why you are connecting with people, then you will never get to the secondary reason of networking for a job, presenting another opportunity etc. You need to build trust before you can do anything else.
So how do you meet people and network via LinkedIn? I hope my own insights have helped you a little bit or at least pointed you in the right direction. Feel free to send me a connection request. I look forward to meeting you!
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