College is a great time to start your career search. Whether you will be graduating in a year or more, using LinkedIn to build your network early will pay off in the long run. LinkedIn has more than 562 million users in more than 200 countries and so has considerable reach! Here are five ways to proactively network on LinkedIn:
1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile looks professional
Remember that first impressions count! Make sure you have a clear, professional photograph on your LinkedIn profile. This is the first thing prospective employers will see. LinkedIn advises using headshots with a background that isn’t too distracting. Additionally, you want to be sure that the resolution on the picture is clear and shows you in the best light. According to OmniCore, profiles with a professional headshot get 14 times more profile views than those without a professional picture.
2. Target companies you want to work for
If you have a general idea of what you would like to do after graduation, now is the time to do some research on the companies you would be interested in working for. Come up with a top ten list and learn all you can about the business , including its culture, growth goals and previous gains. Follow the company’s corporate page on the networking platform to stay informed. Around 57% of all companies have a company page. Check out WilsonHCG’s page to to get a feel for what type of info is included. Identify people you would like to connect with. Start with people who have a similar job title of what you would like to be doing when you finish your studies. Also, target executives within the company. Best practice is to look at profiles to find any common interests or perhaps look at those who attended the same school as you as this will help you draft a thoughtful, unique message when sending a connection request. Another tip is to join groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your career search.
3. Writing your intro
You should always write a personalized message to send alongside your connection request. It’s important that you are able to gain someone’s attention within the first sentence or two. There are about 40 million students and recent college grads on LinkedIn, so you’ll need to think outside the box if you want to stand out from the competition. Make sure your profile is thoughtful and has substance.
4. Start connecting!
Come up with a plan to not only maximize your time, but also the connections you already have. Spend time on your target company’s pages and start writing personal messages to those you would like to connect with. Track your success and alter messages as needed – seeing what works and what doesn’t. Remember to be personable and to the point with your messages. You only get one chance to make a good first impression!