By Shawn McGowan, JobsInME.com
With a little time and energy, LinkedIn can be a game-changing advantage in researching and connecting with companies. Via planning, resourcefulness and enthusiasm you can use this tool to make valuable contacts, learn key corporate information and increase your visibility. By promoting your personal brand on LinkedIn, you can make inroads into an organization.
Here are three simple tips to research and connect with companies you'd like to work with or be recognized by:
Follow Company Profiles
Following LinkedIn company profiles is a great way to learn critical information about the organization you'd like work for such as new job opportunities, what type of person they typically hire, and who the hiring manager or direct report for a position is (as well as important talking points like common interests or similar professional or educational backgrounds).
Thoughtfully commenting on content the company posts on their profile is a great way to convey competence and insightfulness in your field prompting vital conversations with members within the organization.
Connect with Employees
Browsing the list of employees in your network and what connections you share is critical information when trying to make in-roads with that company. Focus on employees you find with second or third degree connections and ask your contacts for introductions. Engage them in some friendly conversation, mention your interest in the company, you could even ask if they would be open to an informational interview.
If you choose to invite them to your network directly (without an introduction), always include a short personalized introduction message that provides a frame of reference as to why you'd like to connect (For example: "I was talking with Jill Doe yesterday about Widgets Inc. and what it would be like to work there and she mentioned you would be a great person to ask"). Requests to connect from "out of the blue" can be off-putting and be perceived as unprofessional.
I've also known people who've used the company profile list of departures to connect with former employees to inquire about the company to get both sides of the employment story.
Once you've made some key connections with members of your target company, pinpoint or join common LinkedIn groups and engage in conversation about your area of expertise, ask questions, share some interesting industry news with your unique perspective and invite others to chime in. Becoming a recognized contributor to conversations in these groups is a great way to build a reputation with industry leaders.
Look for in-person networking opportunities to meet the influencers you've been engaged with or plan and announce your own networking event to the group once you feel comfortable enough!
The key here is:
- Using LinkedIn as a critical source of intelligence about the company you'd like to work for
- Being present in the same industry/professional circles (online and in-person)
- Building a reputation that makes you visible to key players who may have influence in their hiring process
Cultivating internal influence and referrals at a company often leads to career opportunities there, so don't miss out.
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As a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Shawn McGowan's passion for brand transparency and over 10 years of sales/customer service experience make him aptly suited for the job. A native of East Millinocket, Maine, Shawn grew up at the foot of Mount Katahdin and graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). When not writing, editing or immersing himself in the world of social media, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, art, music, tech, humor, Portland's amazing food scene, and all things nerdy. You can reach Shawn at smcgowan (at) JobsInME.com and Twitter.com/shonymac.