Now, we will use LinkedIn to connect through a group. This process alone will save you the cost of a LinkedIn Premium membership because it gives you a way to contact people who are not your first or second tier connections.
This is part of a bigger networking strategy to get to know people who work at the company you may like to join. It is rarely a quick way to find a job, so don’t have that kind of expectations for it. This is a process you begin now and continue throughout your career whether or not you are job hunting.
People who hold jobs similar to your target are one possibility. You can find out more about the company culture, and management and supervision policies, and job openings. However, you don’t want to appear eager to take their job, so the best approach is casual. You may approach them to “talk shop” about a project or problem. When you know them better, you can ask more pointed questions about their company.
Once you have found a person who works at your target company, identify a group they belong to. Most LinkedIn members leave the Groups section of their profile toward the bottom. Once in their profile, just scroll down until you find it.
They may have created a group of their own, and if so, this is the best one to join. It shows you share an interest with your target person. It’s also pretty natural that you would contact them as the founder and leader of the group to say hi and thanks.
If they have not formed their own group, look over the groups they belong to and choose one in which you have a natural interest. You need to be able to hold a conversation in the group, but you don’t need to be an expert. For example, I am a member of a group concerning mobile technology. I am not in that industry, but I am interested in it, especially concerning job search and document reading on mobile platforms, because so many of my clients use it. Can I program a mobile app? Not even to save my life. That doesn’t prevent me from using the group to learn more.
Join the group and establish a relationship with the person. Most often, asking a question is the first way to do this. You don’t have to be cagey about your job search, even if the person you are contacting is the hiring manager; asking about the culture of the company or the type of employee they prefer is fine. What isn’t fine is asking for a job or if they have any openings.
Don’t hurry. Don’t expect immediate results or a job offer. You are cultivating a relationship. You are learning about a person.
Here are some questions that might help you detect more about this company and person:
- What are the company values?
- What does the hiring manager consider the priority of the company / department right now?
- Where does she or he see the industry going next?
- Is a specific trend having an impact on growth?
- What is the most important component in competitive advantage?
- What is it like to work there?
Notice that these are open-ended questions that will likely spark a discussion rather than elicit only a yes or no answer.
Remember to look for opportunities to be helpful. If you find an article pertinent to your target’s needs, share it with them personally or with the group to which you both belong. This establishes you as a good resource and someone who gives first.
If your job search is getting away from you, especially in the social media arena, contact me for lessons on how to use online resources along with a big helping of encouragement.