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Congratulations! You are on LinkedIn and want to start networking! Growing your professional network is fun and interesting. Connecting on LinkedIn will definitely help you to network more effectively. It will open your eyes to many interesting people doing different things all around the world.
Before you start networking, make sure your LinkedIn profile is in tip top shape. It should be complete with a great headshot photo, personalized headline, compelling summary, detailed experience and education.
Combine your networking activities with personalized LinkedIn invitations for optimal results. Start by connecting with people that you know, trust and respect. These mutual connections are called “first level” and are the most valuable type of connection on LinkedIn.
First level connections open up your entire network on LinkedIn. Your profile will be seen by more people. Contacts that you are connected to will get your activity updates so it is a great way to stay connected professionally. You can also send them direct inMail messages at no cost.
Think broadly about who you can connect with on LinkedIn and remember to include:
- Family and Friends: Start here. Don’t forget all your aunts, uncles and cousins. Connect with your neighbors.
- Parent Networks: Connect with your friend’s parents and your parent’s friends. This group is one of the most valuable yet often forgotten groups to include in your active networking strategy.
- School Connections: Invite your friends from college, high school, sports, clubs, fraternity, sorority, or any other school based relationships. You may find your college professor, teaching assistant or fellow alumni to be a very valuable connection.
- Career Experts: You may be able to connect with your College Career services Director or employees. Check their profile summary to see if they invite student invitations or not. Think about career experts, speakers or recruiters that you have you met on campus or at a career fair and can invite to connect.
- Community connections: Invite your community connections such as church or synagogue members; and employees or volunteers from a favorite nonprofit organization.
- Industry or Academic connections: Think about the people you know who belong to an industry association or group connected to your major.
- Previous employers: Don’t forget your employer from last summer or last semester. Think about your coworkers and other contacts you made while employed or volunteering.
- Social media friends: Connect with friends you have made online. If they are local, can you meet them for a career discovery conversation?
Your LinkedIn activity and first level connections should be supporting an active in person networking strategy. During college, build your professional network so you will have choices when it comes to summer internships and post graduate employment. Who else should you be connecting with?