Your connections are everything. While it is true that merit should be a factor of success after graduating Suma Cum Laude, leading multiple executive boards and hosting events on campus, and remaining sane, the truth is that academic accomplishments are simply not enough.
If you don’t know people on the inside, the doors to many opportunities will, more likely than not, stay shut. For folks who applied to 100+ jobs after graduation, the journey does not end there. This is where LinkedIn comes in.
I discovered LinkedIn during my sophomore year at Clark around Spring break. I was in the library, reading articles for my Screen Studies professor, when I realized that summer was only a few months from March and homeboy (myself) didn’t have any internships. I created my account and struggled to fully utilize my connections. Turns out the worst thing you could do to your LinkedIn is utilize it as a Facebook and Instagram.
Here are some steps on making the most of your connections.
- Get all the virtual coffee chat. Now that everyone is at home due to COVID. This is actually the best time to network with others on LinkedIn and learn about people’s journeys. Whenever you want to connect with someone, always send a personalized, not generic, note to the person. From my personal experience, people are more likely to accept and chat with you once you show interest with a note that explains your why. People love to talk about themselves, it is usually their fifteen minutes to talk about themselves, their successes and their lessons.
Here is a template to reach out to people:
I hope you are healthy & safe. My name is XXX, nice to e-meet you! I saw your profile and was inspired by XXX. I would love to chat with you on XXX and XXX. Let me know if this week or next week work and I can set up a time on your calendar.
– Your Name
And here’s a resource for kick starting your conversation with people: We Are Next’s Coffee At A Distance.
- Connect horizontally. This means connecting with people who are on the same level as you but in different industries. Considering the current economy under COVID, you never know how industries will change later in your career or how the knowledge of another industry can aid yours. This is why you should always network with everyone and value every relationship. Obviously, don’t always network with people as a means to an end. People can sense when you want to use them, and that connection will not last long.
- Send thank you notes via email. This can take you far. Saying thank you will not necessarily get you a job, but it does keep you memorable in that person’s mind. If someone can risk their neck for you via a referral, that is big. So be polite, 24/7.
- Always try to be of value to someone. As much as you receive from someone, try to give back. Offering your services can open doors for you because it shows that you’re hungry to learn and multifaceted.
Especially during a time when the world is currently paused due to the COVID events, this is the best time to connect as everyone should be home. Virtual is different but the old rules still apply.
You got this.