How to Network With LinkedIn and Land the Internship or Job Offer of Your Dream
Networking is a key enabler to finding jobs
"It's really hard to get an internship, especially when you're in the first year of college." - My son
Internships are a critical part of gaining experience and building one's skills. However, getting an internship is very difficult. Today's article is about using LinkedIn to improve your odds of landing your dream internship. These same tips are also relevant for finding full-time jobs.
Last month, during Winter Break, my wife and I were talking to my son about his progress in finding an internship for this coming Summer. He told us about all the applications he has been submitting through his university's career center, but said that he was not hearing back from the majority of those companies. "It's really hard to get an internship, especially when you're in the first year of college" is what he said.
My wife and I let him know that what he's doing with the career center is great, but in today's world, it's not enough. Most jobs nowadays are filled through connections. "According to HubSpot, 85% of jobs are filled through networking. In fact, according to CNBC, 70% of jobs are never published publicly." (Important Networking Statistics Everyone Should Know). This makes sense from an employers perspective as "Resumes and cover letters alone are often too impersonal to convince employers to hire you. Job listings tend to draw piles of applicants, which puts you in intense competition with many others." (Job Networking Tips)
Having connections at companies where you are interested in getting an internship will vastly improve the likelihood of both finding potential opportunities and getting an interview. Naturally, his answer was: "I don't have connections" so we told him about a way to build his network leveraging social media such as LinkedIn.
I reminded him of the article I'd written about networking (Build a Network) and said that reaching out through LinkedIn is similar to meeting someone in person, but just requires a little more courage to reach out electronically. Here are the steps that my wife and I recommended to leverage LinkedIn:
Build a target list of companies and search for their employees with whom you share a commonality
The first step is to develop a list of target companies. There are a number of companies that my son views as his dream employers so this is a pretty easy step for him. However, the dream employer list is just a starting point. It's imperative to refine and add on to this list so one doesn't limit oneself. We let him know that he can build out his list by speaking to professors or other students about interesting companies as well as adding relevant ones that come to the university's career center.
Next, utilize LinkedIn's search function to find people who are working at the target companies with whom you share a commonality. My son is in a pretty large university so an easy commonality is finding alumni of his university who also studied Computer Science. There are also plenty of other commonalities you can use such as participation in a similar club or interest in similar activities.
Connect on LinkedIn to the folks you've identified
LinkedIn makes it easy to ask to connect with someone. All you need to do is click on the Connect button in their profile and you're taken to a screen that walks you through the process of asking to connect.
In your connection request, make sure to include a personalized note. This note should introduce yourself, identify your commonality with them and let them know why you're interested in establishing a connection. This sounds hard to do, and it is at the beginning. However, there are plenty of resources online to get you started, for example: 7 Tips to Begin a Conversation with any Stranger on LinkedIn. It will also get easier as you do more of it and experiment to find the most successful types of notes.
You'll be surprised at how many people are willing to connect if you have a transparent and sincere reach out. However, there will also be a lot of people who don't respond. For those who don't, send a polite follow up request in a week or two. If they don't respond then, move on to the next person. You certainly don't want to become a stalker for those who don't respond after your reminder. Remember, reaching out for connections with LinkedIn is a numbers game. There will be only be a subset of folks who respond and plenty of others who don't.
Ask for an introductory call to those folks who connect
Once someone has accepted your connection request, ask for an introductory call. In the conversation, be respectful and genuinely interested in the other person. As I shared my article that I linked earlier, networking is about building connections. The easiest way to do so is to listen to the person as they share their backgrounds and experiences. As the conversation continues, share information about yourself, in particular when you have things in common with them. Much like making a friend, building a network is about finding commonalities between you and the other person.
Once you've established some rapport, share that you are looking for internship opportunities. Ask if they know about any open opportunities at their company. If there aren't, that's fine. You've added someone to your network who you should keep in touch with over time. If there are current opportunities, ask about what qualifications that opportunity requires. If you feel you would be a fit, ask if they would be willing to share your name and resume with the hiring manager. These are the folks who make the final decisions on hiring and getting your foot in the door with them just increases the likelihood of your getting an interview.
Now, networking is meant to be a two-way street. Just as your network can support you, you should unselfishly support your network. So, if in the course of your conversation you see any opportunities for you to be helpful to that person, make sure to offer.
Maintain your network
Regardless of whether the early interactions lead to an internship opportunity, make sure you maintain this new relationship - networks require maintenance! The best way to do this is to periodically share information that is relevant to that person. Maintaining contact over time will help deepen and strengthen your relationship.
This completes today's post on how to leverage LinkedIn to grow your network and increase your odds of getting your dream internship. The practical steps you can start taking from today's post are:
- Expand your job search methods to include social media like LinkedIn: In today's world, just applying to jobs online or through career centers isn't going to be sufficient. Having a connection that helps you get your foot in the door at your targeted companies will meaningfully increase your odds of getting the dream offer
- Build a target list of companies in which you're interested and search for their employees with whom you have a commonality: Use LinkedIn's search function to find people at those companies who have a commonality with you . For example, graduates of your university who studied the same subject
- Network in the "right" way. Be authentic and genuine with your network. Give to your network as much as you get from it. Read my article titled Build a Network to learn how to network in an authentic, genuine and unselfish manner
- Reach out to those employees and introduce yourself: Send a message asking to link with the people you've identified. Include a short, personalized note in your invitation identifying your commonality with them and letting them know why you're reaching out. Be honest and open in this note as nobody wants to connect with a transactional person who's just focused on "what's in it for me"
- Recognize that networking in this manner is a numbers game: Be prepared to have only a small portion of the folks you've invited to accept the connection. Although, you will be surprised how many people are willing to connect with a stranger
- Once connected, ask for some time for a quick introductory call: Be curious in the call and spend time learning about that person and their experiences. Share your experiences as well so you can develop a connection with them
- Have the courage to ask for help with identifying open opportunities and getting your name in the mix: In the course of your conversation, let them know that you are seeking internship opportunities and would appreciate their help with identifying any open ones in their company. If there are any for which you would be qualified, ask if they'd be willing to help get your name and resume to the hiring manager
- Maintain the relationship that you've developed: Building a connection is just the first step of networking. Make sure to keep in touch by periodically sharing something about a common interest. Over time, this repeated contact will deepen your relationship
Thank you again for joining me on my journey to build financial literacy for young adults and their families. Please share any comments or questions that you have in the comments section. If you are interested in reading more of my posts, please access my author page (https://vocal.media/authors/sudhir-sahay) where you can see all the posts I’ve published. Also, if there are any topics you’re interested in my broaching in future posts, please let me know. In addition to the comments section, I can be reached at [email protected]
About the Creator
Sudhir Sahay is a Sales and Marketing executive and a father of two young men. Sudhir hopes to share his journey building basic financial literacy for his children and providing savings and investing advice to their friends and peers.
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