Networking is not as bad as you think. Yeah, you have to talk to people, but you don’t have to do it in person . . . that much.
I’m going to show you how you can use LinkedIn to get an interview for an internship without having to talk face-to-face with people.
You may have to talk to someone on the phone, but if you’re an introvert like me, then that’s good enough.
Before I even get into the individual steps of how to use LinkedIn to network, you must first have your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and as complete as possible.
After you do that, then you should take the first step and . . .
1. Connect with everyone you know
LinkedIn gives you a huge list of people that you might know. These are basically your second connections. Just click the network button in your navigation bar at the top of the page.
They are people who are connected with people you know. You both have a mutual friend or colleague in common.
Send everyone you know, or have met at least once a connection request. You can personalize it, if you want, by sending them a quick note of how you met them or know them.
2. Ask them for a lead
For all the people you’ve connected with, aka those in your network, send them a message following this template:
I know you may not remember me, but I met you at ________ (talk about when you met them or how you know them).
I’m messaging you because I’m looking for roles in software engineering. I was wondering if you knew anyone in that field or someone who simply knows about software engineering?
If they give you a contact, then great! Move forward to the next step below.
If they don’t, it’s all good. They’ll potentially have you in the back of their mind and will contact you they think of somebody.
3. Connecting with this new lead
If you’re able to get a name and some contact info from you’re LinkedIn connection, it’s time to move to the next step.
In this step, you want to contact that person and hit them with your elevator pitch aka your 30-second intro.
You can do that by following this template:
My name is Tahj and I’m a student majoring in computer science at Truman State University. I was referred to you by Tony (list the LinkedIn connection who told you about this person.
I’m interested in learning more about software engineering and was wondering if you have a moment to share with me any advice, ideas, leads, or referrals.
Send them a quick email saying this. The goal of this is really to get a chance to talk with them and learn about what they do and their work in the field.
4. Informational Interview
During the informational interview, which is just the time when you’re talking to them over the phone or in person, you can ask them a series of questions.
- How did you get into this position?
- What kind of preparation is typical to get into this?
- What was different from what you expected? What was the biggest surprise when you went into this?
- Who else does this? What other companies? Who else should I be talking to?
- What ensures continued advancement?
- What is the typical career path out of this position?
- What advice do you have for someone like me?
Those are some questions you can ask the person you’re talking with to learn about the field and what they do.
5. Converting informational interview into an actual interview
When you’re talking with the person during the informational interview, they may mention potential opportunities at their company or others that they know of.
When that happens, you should ask them this:
“That sounds like an interesting opportunity. How would I go about applying for that or who should I contact for that position?”
This way, you’re able to start applying for the job while also having a connection to the position.
If the person doesn’t mention any positions, then you can ask them something like:
“Do you know of any companies that would be to apply to or anyone looking for someone with my experience?”
This is one of the questions mentioned above during the informational interview, but I just wanted to add it again so that you make sure to bring it up.
But your goal of the informational interview is to learn about the field, see if you’re actually capable of getting a job in this field, and then seeing if they are able to refer you to any jobs.
There is a possibility that the informational interview may not lead to a job, but that’s alright. Keep that person in your contacts, and make sure to see if they can give you another person that may be of some help.
Story of how I used this:
I was transitioning between careers and I didn’t know anyone in this new field. But luckily, I had built up my LinkedIn profile to the point where I had over 600 connections. That isn’t a number that stands out, but it is a great number to work with.
600 connections mean you have 600 people you can use this networking process with. I didn’t have time to contact 600 people, so I just settled for 50.
I sent all 50 of them a message asking if they knew anyone in the field, just the same template I mentioned above. And a good amount of them responded