Did you do your homework and beef up your LinkedIn profile and network this past week? Now you're ready to start finding new connections.
We're going to be searching for people who have the job you want or work at a company you're interested in. You're not going to be e-mailing any CEOs (unless it's a very, very small organization); you're going for the people who are at your level or just above it.
This means you need to have some idea of the job title you're seeking. If you're not sure, start looking at job postings until you're able to narrow it down to at least a word or two that will probably be in your ideal job title.
Type this into the LinkedIn search box.
If it's not set to People, click that:
Now narrow it down to your geographic location
Try a few different ways of narrowing the results down further. The "Relationship" filter will show you whether you already have people in your network (1st connections) with these words in their profile or if you have mutual connections (2nd connections) who could introduce you.
You can also open up the school filter and type in the name of your university to find alumni who are doing the kind of job you're interested in:
Search "Current Company" to find people working at a specific company you're interested in. Or even better, scroll down to "Past Company" and type in the company name there — if you're looking for honest feedback about working at a company, its former employees are the best ones to ask because they have nothing to lose by being honest.
Click on some profiles and find people you might want to interview. You're looking for a few people who are doing the work you want to be doing or working at the company where you want to work, and whose experience is close enough to yours that you think their advice would be applicable to you.
You'll notice that a lot of profiles don't show the name of the person; they just say "LinkedIn Member" or have a First Name + Last Initial. In this case you won't be able to see their whole profile. Here's a trick: Copy their current title and do a Google search for it. In all likelihood, their full name will show up in the search results. Now go back to LinkedIn and do a search for that specific name. If you search by an exact name, LinkedIn will assume you know the person and show you their whole profile.
When you pick out a person you're interested in meeting, go to the website for the company where they work and do a search for their name. If you don't turn up any contact information that way, you may have to do some more Googling and digging around to turn up an e-mail address. (If you have a connection in common, you can skip this step.)
Once you've got their e-mail address, you're ready to get in touch. We'll talk next week about what to say in that e-mail.