LinkedIn: Next-level networking

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By utilizing LinkedIn and its networking features, students can learn how to connect with people and organizations to help their future careers. (Photo illustration by Sarah Hill.)
By utilizing LinkedIn and its networking features, students can learn how to connect with people and organizations to help their future careers. (Photo illustration by Sarah Hill.)

With graduation in the spring and the career fair on Jan. 30, it can be hard to know how to connect with people at a dream job. By utilizing LinkedIn and its networking features, dream jobs are only a connection away.

BYU career counselor McKenzie Lawyer Davies shared ways LinkedIn can be used as a networking tool for students.

“The number-one most important thing first in landing a job is a good résumé, but then 70 to 80 percent of jobs are found through networking,” Davies said.

Create a professional profile 

Davies recommended that every student create a professional profile on LinkedIn including a professional profile picture and an individualized hyperlink. Hyperlinks can be edited on the student’s profile page and can include the student’s name.

Kenneth Plowman, a communications professor at BYU, suggested that students put information in their profile relevant to their desired industry or field.

“Don’t put random summer jobs into your profile on LinkedIn,” Plowman said.  “Put in the relevant experience gained from those jobs.”

Join groups

Once a student’s profile looks professional, the next step in utilizing LinkedIn as a networking tool is to join groups. Students can begin by joining the Official Brigham Young University Alumni Group, even before they graduate. From there, students can join any other groups they have affiliations with.

“The more groups students are a part of, the larger their network is,” Davies said. “Let’s say I am a psychology student. I can join a psychology student group. I also have my ward network, home network, work network and my different groups on LinkedIn network. Ultimately there are a lot of people that students can ask questions to.”

Connect with alumni through the official BYU group

Davies said the one thing she wishes every BYU student would know is that the official BYU group is a great way for students to connect with future employers. Students can follow a few steps to get in contact with the right people to help their careers.

If students hover over the network tab on LinkedIn’s homepage, “Find Alumni” will show up. All of the people who identify or self-affiliate with BYU will pop up. Students can then search through the list of people given by where they work, where they live, what they do, what they studied and other filters. By using this tool, students can find people whom they have a connection with and contact them through a professional message.

It is not uncommon for people to network or reach out to others to meet their career goals. Since many employers have sought help from others to start their careers, they are usually open to helping students start their own careers.

“People are willing to pay it forward,” Davies said. Especially people who have common factors with you. That factor can be your high school, university, church affiliation; it can be mission buddies or people who served in your mission before or after you.”

Send professional messages

Once students have found someone they have a connection with and want to contact, they can approach those people through a message. Messages should be assertive, kind, time-sensitive and respectful.

“Every time a professional message is being sent, students will ask two questions,” Davies said. “Students are going to ask, ‘Who else should I be talking to?’ and, ‘What else should I be doing?’ These are known as informational interviews.”

These questions should be asked because people in the industry know more than students. These questions can help get the initial first push to help students reach their career goals.

Daniel LeFevre, 24, studying geography, has used LinkedIn as a way to contact professionals.

“I have connected with professionals in fields that I am interested in and asked for their advice,” LeFevre said. “I think most people have been helped out by a mentor sometime in their career, so most people I have contacted have offered advice willingly and quickly.”

Follow companies

If there are specific companies students are interested in working at, they should be following those companies. This allows students to be in the know of what the companies are doing. It shows they are serious about their interest with the company.

For more information about how LinkedIn can benefit a student’s career, visit University Career Services in room 2400 of the Wilkinson Student Center, or make an appointment by calling University Career Services at 801-422-6536.

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