My colleague Lindsay Bridges has already introduced you to the exciting world of LinkedIn. Today I want to share some tips on how to effectively connect with other professionals to get the most out of this great networking tool. First of all, it is important to understand that it is never too early to create and utilize your LinkedIn profile. Through LinkedIn students can learn more about their future careers, follow their dream companies, and look for mentorship. Even connecting with your peers might help you land a job in the future: so don’t waste any time and start your professional social networking today.

The most important thing is to connect with a purpose. Once you have created a comprehensive profile you need to come up with a strategy. Research specific jobs or specific companies and connect with those who can advise you or connect you with a hiring manager (but don’t ever ever ever ask for a job, as former recruiter I can tell you that it will get you nowhere). An effective strategy is to find people you have something in common with – they will be more willing to connect and start a conversation with you. Alumni are a great place to start. The UCF page (search “UCF” and click on the profile under “universities”) allows you to search alumni and filter the results by location, employer, and industry. Pretty cool, uh?

Once you have found someone you want to connect with, draft your introduction. Be specific: briefly speak to why you are interested in connecting, and explain to the person you are reaching out to how she can help. Most people actually enjoy talking about themselves (some more than others), you just need to ask. Did you find someone with your dream occupation? Ask her how she got there. Be humble, sincere, and flatter her a bit: someday you will learn that it is nice to hear how far you have come and feel like others look up to you.

Be passionate: whether you have applied for an internship position with a company or you simply want to make a connection to receive advice, make an effort to show your interest in the job/career/industry (and if you don’t know what that job/career/industry is, that is what your Career Coaches are here for!).

LinkedIn is a great way to practice your professional communication skills and start a conversation with those who can help you get where you want to be. Follow Lindsay’s tips (https://careerpros.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/linkedin-the-professional-facebook/), come up with a strategy, present yourself in a professional manner, and connect with the right people.

Professional social networking may truly be the Link to your next job.

Laura McDonough

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Career Coach – Economics and Finance

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