These days applying through the website or e-mailing people your resume just hasn’t been doing the trick. We’ve all heard it, “It’s about who you know not what you know.” A lot of people just sit there and go “geez! I really don’t know anyone that can help.” I’m here to help show you how you can.
One of my favorite tools to build up a network is Linkedin. Everything I’m going to show you can be done with Linkedin’s Free version. If you’re already familiar with and have a great profile than skip directly to Step Three.
Step One: Have a Complete Linkedin Profile
To get started, you need a complete profile. Add a professional looking photo of yourself and work hard to have all relevant work experience and links available. Be sure to indicate which University/College you went to (this will help in Step Three). I try to keep mine fairly updated and complete so take a look at mine mine.
Step Two: Connect with People and Build up your Network
People like knowing they are talking with a real person. One of the ways to build up credibilty is to have a network online. On Linkedin this is fairly simple, connect with your friends, family, past coworkers, and even some acquaintances Let’s be serious, in the beginning you won’t be too pick who you add just don’t get adding everyone under the sun.
Step Three: Strategically Connect with Insiders
You want to meet people who are in your industry or at companies you want to work at. One of the best ways, especially for new graduates, is to connect with their alumni. Below is a quick clip showing how to search Linkedin for anyone in Vancouver, BC that went to McGill University and is currently in the Banking industry.
When sending an invitation write a personalized message. Keep it very short as most people don’t even read these messages. Even something like “Hi Matt – See we both went to McGill and are in the Banking industry. Wanted to connect and get in touch.” Try to connect with at least 5 people a day that you would like to have coffee with.
Step Four: The Proposal
Now that you are connected with a few people that are relevant for yourself it’s time to send them a message and invite them out for an informal chat. Keep the message short and personal with a clear call to action. Not sure what to say? I’ve included a message that I recently received.
I am a McGill Electrical Engineering 2014 graduate, interested in joining Hootsuite’s Business Development or Product Management team. I recently moved to Vancouver, and I was wondering if you were free to chat over coffee sometime soon.
Step Five: Having Coffee
This might sound obvious but come prepared. Research the company that the person works with and come with a list of at least 5 questions that you can ask. Dress to impress and be sure to ask relevant and pertinent questions.
Most companies trust their current employees but no one wants to refer someone they aren’t sure about. Take time to understand the company and if it seems like a good fit, ask if they can refer you to the appropriate person. Perhaps they also know someone else in the industry who might be a good person to speak with.
Step Six: Follow-Up Right Away
After the meeting send them a quick note thanking them for their time (Snail Mail or e-Mail is your choice). Remember to take any follow-up actions within 24 hours. If they asked you to send them your resume, do it right away. Do not delay.
Step Seven: Get a Job and Network On!
Once you land your job don’t forget to continue to grow your network and thank the people that helped you get there. You’ll never know where even the most chance of encounters might lead to.