By Craig Smith
Social networking is the current way of the world. We have put ourselves in situations where we can be as distant and obscure as possible so as not to actually verbally communicate with someone. While this has increased the ability for employers to network with mass numbers and allowed young adults to avoid their fear of face-to-face networking, it has not removed from all of us that feeling of rejection. The question is, why are we getting rejected or not responded to?
If we focus on the social network of LinkedIn, we tend to make the exact same mistakes we would at a networking event. The toughest thing to do is approach somebody and start the conversation. The beauty of LinkedIn is that the employer is already open to conversation by having a profile, so approaching them is easy. Just like in face-to-face interactions, if I have met the employer or I have had a class, group, club or organization in which they spoke, I have an easy approach to introduce myself. I would not just approach them and say “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” Instead I would communicate to them how I knew them then quickly give my elevator pitch before asking a question about their company.
EX: “Hello Mr. Smith, I heard you speak during Social Justice Week on campus and really liked your passion for social work.”
ELEVATOR PITCH: “What do you think is the most important skill I should leave UW Oshkosh with?” or “What excites you the most about your current position?”
You do not have to worry too much about your elevator pitch because it is already done on your profile. So, what is the next step in networking? Remember, the best networkers listen 80 percent of the conversation and speak less than 20 percent, and with your elevator pitch already done for you, you can go right into your question.
EX. “Hello Mr. Smith, I heard you speak during Social Justice Week on campus and really liked your passion for social work and was hoping to connect with you here on LinkedIn. What do you think is the most important skill I should leave UW Oshkosh?”
The ability to network cannot be completely dismissed because we have found a way to be less personal in our approach. The keys to networking have not changed; they just need to be adapted.
- What is my reason for approach? Examples:
- I have researched their company and want to know more
- I have met them in the past and want to develop our relationship further
- I have heard them speak or present and want to develop our relationship further
- Do I have an Elevator Pitch and up-to-date online profile? Examples:
- Who I am, what I am interested in for a career
- My path, my skills/strengths
- How do I get them to talk about themselves? Examples:
- Something you researched or heard them talk about that you really want to know more about
- How they got started, what was their path
- What strengths/skills they think are of the greatest worth in their industry
The more personal we are, the more difficult we are to dismiss. The more vague and obscure we are, the less relatable we become. It is important to remember that some people take time to respond to their LinkedIn profile requests, emails and/or phone calls. Be patient. Be a networker without being a pest and always network with a purpose.
Click here to learn more about LinkedIn.