Grow Your Network Online by Kathryn Alford

April 29, 2021

Location should never be a limitation to building professional connections and expanding your network. Thanks to technology and helpful resources such as LinkedIn, you can develop relationships in other states, on the other side of the country, and even across the world. Whether you want to move to a new city after college or take the next step in your career in another part of the country, you can starting with a couple simple steps.

Use Your School’s Alumni Network
For many, after spending several years in college, where they attended school becomes a source of pride. This is an excellent thing to take advantage of when networking.

Let’s look at how you can find alumni to connect with from your school.

Start by clicking on the search bar on the top of your LinkedIn homepage. Select the dropdown button “Schools”. Then return to the search bar and type in your college’s name. In my case, I attended Westmont College, so I entered “Westmont College”.

From the options that come up, click on your school’s name.

Once on your school’s page, select “Alumni” (often located on the left-hand side of the page).

A page will then load, showing how many alumni from your school are on LinkedIn. On this page you can start to click through categories based on where they live, where they work, what they do, and what they majored in. These tools are great if you are moving to a new city and want to connect with someone, if you’re not sure what job opportunities are available for people in your major, or if you’re looking to connect with someone at a specific company. You can also choose an option from more than one category at a time to refine your results.

After you’ve found the alumni you’re most interested in reaching out to, send them a brief message on LinkedIn and ask if they are willing to connect. When doing this, make sure you emphasize in your introductory message your school connection, because more often than not, this will make them even more willing to connect with you!

Look at the Company Where You Want to Work
Do you have a specific company or place in mind where you want to work? Another way to search LinkedIn is to use this as your starting point for finding people.

Return to the search bar where we were originally and select “Companies”. Then go back to the search bar and type in the name of the company where you want to work. I will use the “U.S. House of Representatives” as an example for anyone interested in working on Capitol Hill.

When you are directed to the home page for that company, look to the left-hand side of the page and select “People”.

This page will show similar categories as before, which you can use to filter and find people who live in a certain city, went to a certain college or university, do a specific type of job, and studied a particular major. However, one of the most important places to look on this page is below these filters.

Here you will find a grid of people’s profiles. These are people on LinkedIn that work at this company currently or have worked at this company in the past. Two key areas to look at on each person’s profile is:

1) Next to their name: Is there a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd marked? If so, this shows what level of connection you have with them on LinkedIn – a 1st level connection (someone you are already connected with), a 2nd level connection (several of your connections are connected to this person as well), and a 3rd level connection (you may have some extended connection, but no direct shared contacts).

2) Shared Connections: After looking at the level of connection, you’ll want to see who your shared connections are. If they are a 1st or 2nd level connection, you will see below their name how many shared connections you have with this person. This is helpful if you decide to reach out to them for a meeting because you can show your pre-established relationship with them.

Using these tools, you are able to find people you may have never thought to reach out to, but could be helpful if you are job searching, looking for an internship, or just trying to figure out what you want to do after college or next steps in your career.

As you build your network online, take a minute to join the NeW network on LinkedIn today.

This blog was written by Kathryn Alford, NeW Communications Manager. Want more advice on how to update your LinkedIn profile or utilize LinkedIn professionally? NeW Members can sign up for a one-on-one meeting with a NeW staff member this week for Professional Development Week. Talk to Kathryn or one of our other team members about your professional goals.

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