Once you’ve learned how to build the perfect LinkedIn profile, you’re bound to get more mileage out of your online presence on the platform. At the end of the day, however, if you don’t know how to use LinkedIn to get a job, you’re not getting the full value of your efforts.

Along with how to manage your finances and how to negotiate, you can add how to network for a job to the list of life skills you don’t learn in school. Networking is something I used to dread but networking doesn’t have to be mystifying or slimy if you’re mindful about it.

When it comes to networking, you’ll find that using LinkedIn is the best way to find a job online. Getting the hang of how to ask for a job and write an introduction email has a tiny learning curve, but once you get that down, you’ll have many more opportunities coming your way.

Here are some easy steps to help you use LinkedIn to get a job and re-energize your job search:

Build Your Network on LinkedIn

Having a wider network on LinkedIn is crucial to getting the most out of your networking efforts on the platform. Aim to have no less than 50 contacts with 100 contacts being a solid initial goal.

LinkedIn has a tool that helps you invite your contacts through your email’s contact book – just be careful to not mass invite people because that can get awkward REAL quick.

Search for Companies on LinkedIn

At the top of your page on LinkedIn, you’ll see a search bar. Maybe those not-quite-subtle product placements on Jane The Virgin got to me, but Target popped in my head as an example company so let’s roll with that.

When I searched Target on LinkedIn, I could see that I have over 446 2nd-degree connections. That means over 446 people work at Target share a mutual connection on LinkedIn with me. Great!

how to use linkedin

Tap into Your Alumni Network on LinkedIn

I’ve been on LinkedIn for over 5 years but if you’re newer to LinkedIn, you might not have any 1st or 2nd degree connections to companies you’re interested in. Don’t throw in the towel!

You can still be crafty and find a way to connect with alums who are in your field or who work at the companies you’re interested.

Start with the LinkedIn YouNiversity Alumni page.

linkedin university

Scroll down and you’ll see a section called the Alumni Tool.

linkedin alumni networking

When you click the name of your university on that ribbon, you’ll discover your Alumni page:

linkedin screenshot

Click the magnifying glass icon next to “Where they work” and search the name of the company you’re interested in:

linkedin screenshot 2

So again, using Target as an example. Now let’s say that I specifically am interested in joining their Sales team. I could click “Sales” under the “What they do” section to further narrow down my alumni connections.

linkedin screenshot 3

Now I can see that I have 4 alumni connections who have worked or who currently work on the Corporate Sales team at Target.

Discover 1st and 2nd Degree Connections

Between your LinkedIn alumni network and your personal LinkedIn network, you hopefully now have some good leads on the companies you’re interested in.

AKA finally, creeping on the Internet can actually be good for you.

On LinkedIn, there are 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections. 1st degree connections are people to whom you are directly connected on LinkedIn so uh, ideally these people should look pretty familiar to you.

2nd degree connections are people who are connected to people you know on LinkedIn. 3rd degree connections are connected to people who are connected to people to whom you’re connected on LinkedIn.

Sound confusing? Yeah…3rd degree connections are better left alone for networking purposes but 1st and 2nd degree connections tend to be pretty solid.

Anyway, using an example again will be helpful. This is someone who works on the Sales team at Target whom I discovered through the Stanford alumni network. I searched her name on LinkedIn in the search bar at the top of the webpage and this is what I saw:

LinkedIn search screenshot

I can see now that Whitney and I share 9 mutual connections on LinkedIn.

When choosing whom to reach out to, be conscious of how well you know the person. You don’t have to be BEST FRIENDS with your LinkedIn connection, but you should at least be on friendly terms so your request will not blind-side them or feel left-field.

Come up with a list of the connections you’d like to make and the people you know who are already connected to these people.

Are you not seeing anyone connected to the companies you’re interested in? That’s ok! On that same alumni page, you can search for people by industry and location. If you’re interested in journalism in Chicago for example, come up with a list of alumni journalists in Chicago.

LinkedIn connections are a many-splendored thing – a “random” contact can end up clutch down the stretch. I got my first full-time job through someone I met at a co-working meet-up and finding out he was connected on LinkedIn to someone from the company I was interested in. I reached out, asked for an introduction, then had an informational interview with that person and when they had a position open a couple months later – bam, employment. Think of it as an intricate game of pool.

No matter how established an alum is now, they remember how hard it was when they first started. Play the “Recent Grad Card” to your benefit and soak up as much knowledge and insights as you can, especially if you have downtime while between jobs. They’ll appreciate that you’re a go-getter.

Ask for Email Introductions

Here is the hardest part – The Ask. Now that you’ve identified prospective connections, it’s time to send them a polite introduction email request.

Here’s an example of how I’d email my wonderful friend Matthew (Mateo), who is connected to Whitney from Target:

Subject Line: Introduction Request

Hi Mateo,

How are things over in NYC? I can’t wait to catch up next time I’m in town.

I’m hoping to apply my background in sales to a new role and Target is on a short list of companies I’m interested in. On LinkedIn, I noticed that you’re connected to Whitney (note: I’d recommend linking to your contact’s LinkedIn profile), who is a Merchandising Supply Chain Operations Manager at Target.

I’m not sure how well you know Whitney, but if you’re comfortable making an email introduction, I’d be grateful to get more insights on Target and learn about career opportunities there.

Thanks for your time and if there’s anything I can help you out with, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Keep your email short and sweet without putting pressure on your connection to make an introduction. Not only is this being considerate, but you also benefit from better quality introductions.

Additionally, make your value to both parties clear, another reason why you want your resume and LinkedIn profile to be in tip-top shape before you start reaching out to your network. For more tips and templates for LinkedIn introductions, check out this article from Forbes.com.

For the example template I provided, I’m actually friends with the person I used in this example (hey Mateo!) so I’d probably write something more casual but in general, especially if you don’t know the person you’re asking very well, you want to err on the side of being professional and courteous.

If you’re lost for words for your introduction request, this list is full of email templates that are sure to impress. If you’re reaching out for email templates for informational interviews with alumni in your network, Idealist.org has a fantastic roundup to get you inspired.

Follow Up on Your Email Introductions

Say, Mateo has reached to Whitney and she has agreed to an email introduction. Now that he’s gotten the go-ahead from his connection, he sends an email to both Whitney and me, introducing us to each other. Great! Now it’s time to make something happen.

I would follow up to Mateo’s introduction email promptly with something along the lines of this:

Thank you for the introduction, Mateo! Copying you to bcc: here. (For the email, you’ll want to move the person who made the introduction from cc: to bcc:)

Hi Whitney,

Very happy to meet you via email and thank you for your time. As Mateo may have mentioned, I’m interested in the Regional Sales Manager role at Target. It’d be wonderful to connect with you over a brief phone call sometime next week to learn more about the company.

Would any of the following times work for you? [Insert at least 3 different options e.g….]

Mon 4/7 between 11-3pm

Wed 4/9 between 10-2pm

Thurs 4/10 between 9-12pm

Let me know what works best for your schedule. My phone number is (XXX) XXX-XXXX. Looking forward to connecting with you!

Thank you,

Folake

For more ideas on how to handle introduction emails, check out this article from Fortune. For questions to ask during your informational interview, here is a guide from Levo to help you brainstorm a plan of action.

Express Gratitude for Introductions

If you’re lucky, you’ll get introduced to these company connections and then you’ll land a job and your job search is over. Hooray!

But whether or not that happens, it’s still worth following up and thanking every person who took the time out for an act of good will to introduce you to someone in the network. They put their reputation on the line because they trust you and want you to succeed!

Here’s a great short template from Rebecca Healy of Kontrary:

Hi Rebecca,

I just got off the phone with Jack, and wanted to follow up. It went great! I enjoyed speaking with him, and he gave me some great advice about how to …

Thanks again for making the introduction. Please let me know if I can return the favor sometime.

Even if they can’t make the introduction, still thank them for their time. Something along the lines of “Thanks for letting me know! I’m grateful for your time – please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you out as well.”

Of course, you should also thank the person with whom you have your informational interview. Here’s what I would send Whitney using a template adapted from this example from Harvard Law School:

Hi Whitney,

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me. I greatly appreciated your insights on Sales at Target and learning more about the company culture.

At your suggestion, I submitted my application to Target and am looking forward to hearing back from the hiring manager about next steps.

Thank you again for your help. I will keep you posted on my job search progress. Enjoy your weekend!

Folake

Learn the Golden Rule of Introductions

And there you have it – a comprehensive guide to finding your next job through LinkedIn. It’ll take some research and hustle but it can pay off in a big way for your next career move.

These recommendations are not untested theories – I’ve applied these exact steps to land multiple jobs and clients and it works. Not every lead is going to pan out but you will hear back from several more companies than you would’ve otherwise.

Hundreds of people apply to every open position and having a connection to the company is a sure way to stand out and better your odds.

If you snatch one nugget of wisdom from this beast of an article, I hope that you gain value from understanding the power of asking for help.

It’s something that can feel off-putting and pesky because you’re putting yourself out there and asking for someone’s time. Sadly this fear prevents people from seizing opportunities that are RIGHT THERE.

I guarantee that if you give me a list of 1,000 successful people, I’ll give you a list of 1,000 people who received help to get where they are.

Networking is a two-way street. Help as many people in your network constantly – it feels good and it’s the right thing to do. Don’t make me start singing Bill Withers because I will.

In fact, I was inspired to start The Job Monger after helping many people in my personal network secure jobs and wanting to help more people do the same.

You can do this. Be grateful, stay humble and repay the favor whenever, however you can.

Any luck with your LinkedIn introductions? Do you feel prepared to ask so that ye shall receive? Leave a comment below!

When you get introduced to your dream company, the ball is officially in your court and now all you need is a slam dunk resume to score a new job. Get a winning resume with a Resume Revamp from The Job Monger. (Can you tell that I’m obsessed with baseball? I kid…go Bulls!)

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