“Prior experience preferred.”
“The other candidate had more experience.”
“We are looking for someone with a different set of skills.”
Rejection. We’ve all been there. I remember job hunting early in my career and feeling like there was no hope. Entry level jobs required 3-4 years of experience. Isn’t that what entry level jobs are for?!
It’s defeating searching for a job and only encountering people who want you to have more experience — but won’t help you gain that experience. It can be frustrating and disheartening, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s not just you — job searching can often feel like a losing battle.
Sometimes, it feels like success in the professional world is solely based on appearances and social status. And sometimes, that is true. (But you don’t want to work for those people anyway.)
Success can also be found in the places you least expect it. It can be found at a social gathering, at a university event, in the classroom; it can be found in connection.
Connecting with professionals allows you to gain insight into the world of one person’s professional life. Professionals always encompass way more than the blurb in their LinkedIn bio or on their business card. They have specific nooks and crannies of their jobs you most likely did not realize existed; or they take their professional skills and apply them to volunteer work or their personal lives.
So how do you make those personal connections? As a female CEO (and social media expert), here is my advice on how to best utilize LinkedIn for networking.
The Perfect Profile
You want your goals and interests to be clear to anyone who may view your account. Make sure your headline is clear and I recommend adding thoughtful objective/ self-summary to your profile.
This is a great chance to define who you want to be as a professional and the types of jobs you would actually be interested in, and is crucial to successful LinkedIn networking.
Need inspiration? Here’s mine. Just take out the career-specific parts and fill in what applies to you, instead!
I’m an experienced communications expert with more than seven years of experience in social media and website management, content creation, communications strategy, and media relations.
I have strategized and implemented communications plans — with a strong focus in digital marketing — to build brand awareness, engage stakeholders like advocates, donors and corporate partners, drive fundraising goals, and move the needle on global issues. I have worked on projects for almost every sector — and I’d love to work with you!
Look into different job titles related to your interests and find those people on LinkedIn or other networking services. While it may seem weird to send a message, asking for an interview, most people are eager to share their experience and help a young professional.
When connecting, look for people who work for companies with job openings that excite you.
PRO TIP: Don’t be pushy! Explain who you are, what you’re interested in doing, and be respectful of their time. Here’s an example of a great LinkedIn message that impressed me:
My name is [Jane Doe] and I am a student at the University of Central Florida. I stumbled across your profile and found it inspiring as a Communications major and wanted to seek your insight. Is it okay I ask you a few questions for professional guidance?
Once you have secured the connection, make sure you are prepared to put your best foot forward. The young woman who sent me that message followed up with 3 well thought out and smart questions — they weren’t questions that she could have Googled instead.
LinkedIn networking does not mean messaging someone and asking for a job. It means messaging someone and asking for feedback, tips, or insider information that will better prepare you to get a job.
Create Genuine Connections
You never know who is going to be your boss one day — or who you will want to work for you. Connecting with peers is one of the most important things you can do for your career.
Find people that follow similar accounts on LinkedIn or have mutual connections to identify your most fitting connections. You are able to bounce ideas off of one another to brainstorm networking and career planning techniques with these people.
Your peers are the next generation of influential professionals, so connecting with them now is key for your future success.
In our newly all-virtual world, LinkedIn is an ideal networking tool. Check out our free Beginners & Basics download to learn more about how to get started on LinkedIn.