Building the LinkedIn network you need to get noticed

If you're not already set up on LinkedIn, you'll need to set up your profile first and LinkedIn makes it very easy to achieve this and have a useful checklist that you can go through once you're done to make sure it's a professional profile

Finding Contacts using LinkedIn

Competition for jobs is high and having someone to champion your application, reach out to HR/Hiring Managers on your behalf and give you inside information that you won’t find on a company’s website can make a difference to your chances of getting selected for interview.  However, it takes time to build a relationship strong enough for someone to do this – they have to know, like and trust you.  Students who start a networking strategy as soon as they begin their programme are more likely to build the right kind of relationships than those who leave it until they need a job.    

There are many social networking platforms that can help you to find alumni from your programme but if you're looking to build relationships with Recruiters and more senior professionals who are more likely to have influence over hiring, then our recommendation is use LinkedIn.  

Once you have your profile set up and it's 100% complete, with a professional looking photo, good Headline that doesn't just say "Student at the University of Birmingham" and with a summary that clearly states your motivations, skills and career interests/ambitions the next job is to try and get up to at least 100 connections.  To do this, connect with people you already know well e.g. friends, fellow students, lecturers, Careers in Business team (i.e. us!), former colleagues you know well, former classmates at your undergraduate University and so on.  The reason you need to create a good baseline of connections is so that when you start searching for contacts you'll get some suggested connections (the way LinkedIn works is that it finds people you might know based on who you know already - like a spiders web).  Think diverse; don't worry at this stage about finding people in your chosen industry/sector

Once you've built up a good diverse network of connections, then you can start to build your connections with people in the right industry.  To do this click in the search box at the top of your screen and then click on the magnifying glass.  We suggest that you do this on your laptop or desktop PC rather than smart phone.

You can then tick various boxes to filter people by key words, including Job Title, by Location, Company, Industry and School, where you need to type in University of Birmingham (and you could add your undergraduate University) to find alumni (people who have graduated from UoB).   Look for 2nd connections.  When you hit the connect button you will get an option to add a note; always do this.  What to write depends on your purpose for wanting to build a relationship.  Always start your message with "Dear [.......]" and end with "Kind regards" and your name.  Here are some possible messages:

I came across your profile when I saw you post an article talking about [..............].  This topic really interests me so I'd love to connect with you to find out more.

We met on campus at the recent careers fair.  The advice you gave me about working at [.........] was really great and I've applied already.  It would be great to connect so that I can keep you updated with my progress.

I've been searching for alumni working in [...........] on LinkedIn and came across your profile.  I can see that you have a lot of experience of [..........].  I'm asking to connect to see if we can arrange a time to talk so that I can find out more about what it's like to work in this sector.

I came across your profile when searching for alumni working at [...........] company.  I'm really interested in applying and would love to connect to find out more about the culture there and opportunities for career progression.

Remember that good networking is about giving back to your network.  When you connect your goal should be to arrange a time to call.  During that call, try and find out what kinds of projects and challenges your contact is working on.  It could be that at a later date you find some information or data or people that might be able to help them.  Always thank people for their time and bear in mind that you need to build a good, strong relationship with someone before asking them for job referrals - don't make this the first thing you say!