Have you thought about your network lately? Not your computer network—your career network. And have you thought about how you can use LinkedIn to update and upgrade that network? If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, now is the time to join. It’s a valuable tool for networking at any stage of your career.
There are a lot of ways to use LinkedIn to grow your network. One is to reach out to people you already know and ask them to connect with you. You are probably already doing that—and if you aren’t, you need to start. But there are also other ways to reach out, gather information and make new contacts.
For starters, you should join the University’s Alumni group (OFFICIAL Minnesota State University Mankato Alumni Association). Yes, it’s an alumni group, but current students (who are, after all, alumni-in-training) are welcome to join, too. It’s a benefit to everyone, including students, to network with involved alumni. You should also check to see if your college or program has a group. Many do, and that’s a great way to connect with professionals in your field.
If you visit http://linkedin.com/alumni while you’re logged in, you will see other LinkedIn users who are also alumni of the university you have listed on your profile. On this page, you can select where they live, where they work and what they do. What can you use this for, you ask? Let me give you a few examples:
- You are interested in working at a specific company and would like to know more about the culture. Search by that company.
- You think you want to go into HR for a large company, but you’re not sure. Search “hr.”
- You’re getting a degree in psychology but don’t know how you’ll turn that into a career. Search for psychology alumni, and see what they are doing now.
- You would really like to work at a nonprofit, but you’re not sure what types of jobs are available in the San Francisco area. Search for nonprofits in San Francisco.
- You’re applying to grad schools in and around New York City. Look for alumni in New York who might have helpful hints.
LinkedIn is a way for you to find connections who can help give you real-world answers to your questions. Most of the time, alumni on LinkedIn are happy to share their experiences with students or recent graduates. You already have a common connection—you’re both Mavericks.
When you find someone you want to connect with on LinkedIn, write them a professional message. Tell them how you found them, what your major is and what your career goals are, then ask if they’d be willing to answer a few questions for you. Make sure you’ve thought about the questions you want to ask before you connect. Be specific and concise. You don’t waste your time rambling on and on and taking five minutes to get to the question. The other alumni on LinkedIn don’t either. If they agree to answer your questions, be respectful of their time and knowledge. If you are uncomfortable drafting a message or writing specific questions, ask someone in the Career Development Center for help.
The Alumni Office is here to help too. If you have questions, let us know. The CDC is your best and first stop when looking for career help, but we work with them to help connect students and alumni in unique ways as well. The Alumni Office is here to help you, both before AND after you graduate. Our door is always open, physically or virtually.
AF224, 1536 Warren St.
OFFICIAL Minnesota State University Mankato Alumni Association
Associate Director of Alumni and Special Events