Using LinkedIn to build an effective face-to-face network
In my last article, I said that LinkedIn was an 'insanely useful tool for job seekers'. I was quoting Forbes. This time, I would like to flag another useful site, www.interexchange.org/career-training-usa/guide-using-linkedin-your-job-search. It is very relevant to using LinkedIn to help you get started with face-to-face networking.
Let’s take a fictitious job seeker, Melanie, who is interested in sport and youth at risk and take her step-by-step through the transition from online networking to face-to-face.
Into LI ‘Search for people, jobs, companies and more’ she enters ‘basketball, australia’ and discovers a number of organisations on LI involved in basketball. One of these is Thursday Basketball (fictitious organisation) an organisation devoted to junior basketball development in her area, and also an organisation which actively encourages the participation of youth at risk.
On the Thursday Basketball LI page, she gets the names of people in that organisation who are on LI and who are 3rd degree connections to her. One of them is Tom Hooper (again fictitious). Clicking on his name, she opens his LI profile and gets the name of one of her LI connections who can introduce her to someone who knows him.
Before asking for an introduction however, she scrolls down to see what groups he has joined. Two of the groups appeal to her so she clicks on the ‘Join Group’ button under their icons.
She then reads the articles presented by the group, especially any comments or articles written by Tom. Melanie should be prepared to add comments once she is confident to do so. This will help her build a name for herself and gets other members of the group interested in her.
Once she has read a comment or article by Tom, she approaches her existing LI contact who can introduce her to someone who knows Tom.
Then it’s a matter of Inmail message, then email, then phone or Skype and finally, best of all, face-to-face. In her first message to Tom, it would be advisable for Melanie to mention anything that he has written for the groups and to ask him some questions about himself, how he got into the sport or something that he would be pleased to answer. This helps to get the relationship off to a good start.
It is essential to prepare thoroughly before any contact is made. Melanie has to research Tom’s background as comprehensively as she can. His LI profile is an obvious place to start but also google the name to unearth other sites where he might be mentioned – other basketball sites, newspaper stories and Facebook could all provide additional information. This will give Melanie things to mention and this shows her interest in Tom. If she is interested in him, he will be interested in her. And the information so gained can help her frame appropriate questions because she has some knowledge of his experience and his values.
Another aspect of preparation is formulating the questions Melanie wants to ask Tom. This will be the topic of the next article.