Being Bold On LinkedIn
As I entered my junior year of college, I knew that I wanted to expand my professional network beyond my neighbor down the street who also has a degree in Strategic Communications. I also knew that many of the agency websites that I was searching through did not provide any personal email addresses to employees that would enable me to dive into meeting and connecting with professionals in the advertising industry. So, I set out to discover the world of LinkedIn overflowing with opportunity for connection.
Where to Begin?
For starters, I made sure that my profile was up-to-date. I added all of the relevant experience I had collected from my first two years of college working as the Marketing Chair for my student organization and job as a math tutor that both required a lot of problem-solving and creative thinking to execute successfully. Then, I underwent a lot of introspective analyzation to discover exactly where my personal skills lay (hello, Gallup StrengthsFinder), as well as what positions I envision myself holding in the future (literally scrolling on Indeed reading job descriptions) to see what stood out to me. After these three steps, I was ready to tackle the search bar.
How to Search
The most beautiful part about LinkedIn is that it understands the power of social capital. Based on connection-based algorithms, LinkedIn will literally generate the names of individuals who work at any company you type in who have one or more personal connections to you already. I would start by just typing in “The Coven” or “FastHorse” or “Periscope” and just seeing what names popped up and who I was already connected to who also was connected with someone who worked here. For example, if I am interested in working at Target Corporate, I could just type in “Target Corporate” to my search bar, see that my old vice principal from high school is connected to an Inventory Analyst here, and shoot a message introducing myself (mentioning that we both know Andrew Mons). Then, if I am interested in a job here, I would ask if he or she would be willing to sit down for a 30-minute informational interview with me at a coffee shop in the cities: they get to brag about their job, I get to learn about their workplace, skills, and connections, and we all win!
Where are Millenials Getting Bogged Down?
To me, I think the biggest road blocker standing in between many young people and these endless connections is the fear of failure. It’s the fear that these individuals won’t respond to your message or, if they do, that the meeting will be awkward or unproductive. My response to that: no connection is a bad connection. Invite that person out for coffee. Let them brag about themselves for an hour. You get to learn from their experiences, hear their advice, and gain another connection–if not for your current job search, then for the many more down the road. The best networking decisions I have made came from just being bold, sending that LinkedIn message, meeting up face-to-face, and forgetting that it could be any other way.