As a job seeker, you may come to dread the very notion of networking with valuable LinkedIn connections. After all, these people may hold the keys to your career, provided you make the right first impression. To help remedy your nerves and provide a nice confidence boost, let's explore some common do's and don'ts of connecting on LinkedIn.
Do: Research your potential networking contact and their associated company.
This is actually the first step that all job seekers should take prior to any conversation that is started on LinkedIn or any other networking venue. Job seekers should review the employer and the connection's page and identify something they enjoyed reading or found interesting or instructive; these items can serve as the basis for an initial conversation. Also, adding a question about their background experience can show your connection-to-be that your intent is to learn from them. Forming a friendly relationship in which you are appealing to your connection's expertise is often an effective way to network.
Do: Prepare questions in advance of the conversation.
This might be something that job seekers miss out on doing and is also an important piece to any networking conversation. Networking should often be treated as an informational interview. Job seekers should focus on starting the interview with a general professional greeting and use questions such as "Tell me how you got started in this field?," "What was your background before entering the field?," "What do you find most rewarding/challenging about your field?" and "What can I do to prepare for a career in this field?" Having questions like these prepared in advance shows the employer that you respect their time and also that you put effort into making this conversation effective and successful.
Don't: Leave the ball in their court
After conducting an informational interview, don't leave it up to your connection to stay in touch. It is very important to follow up with your contact by sending a thank-you letter afterwards. To ensure your thank-you letter is effective, write down your thoughts and impressions of the meeting and address anything that you might have missed during your conversation. Sending this letter can bring about a closer tie with this contact, which can result in a recommendation or future opportunities with their company.
Don't: Expect or ask the connection if they can help you get a job.
This is a very common question that many job seekers seem to fall into asking a connection once they have made contact on LinkedIn. Asking this too early or at all may come across as desperate or insincere, which will cause your connection to think that this is only reason why you contacted them in the first place. This should be avoided at all measures when networking with your connections on LinkedIn because it is seen to be very unprofessional. The goal is to make a great first impression with your contact, have a well-thought-out discussion with them in hopes they would think of you when there is an open position that meets your qualifications, and of course, to learn.
Interested in more posts on job search related topics? Check out our Career Development blog.