Networking and LinkedIn

Networking means to cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally, especially in finding employment or moving to a higher position. As a business major at Appalachian State University, you can significantly increase your probability of getting an interview if you arrive at an opportunity through your own interpersonal efforts rather than through only job postings or company websites.

You need just a few things to get started:

  • an idea of what you want at this point in your career exploration or job search
  • a brief personal introduction (link to personal brand)
  • a system to manage contacts (link to job search tracker file)
  • an interest in learning and an openness to meet new people
  • a handshake and a smile
  • a few questions to get the conversation going 

Alumni

Alumni and other contacts are more likely to want to help you while you're still a student. It puts less pressure on the alumni because you are just asking for advice and not yet looking for a job. That means if you want to pick the brain of someone who works in the industry you want to go into or even request an informational interview, now's the time to do it. Grow those relationships while there's no pressure, so those contacts will want to help you when you transition to the work world.

Parents of Friends and Friends of Parents

They've got decades of experience and are probably willing to share their expertise with you—and maybe even their contacts, too. Students tend to overlook their parents' friends when it comes to networking, but those parents are often well connected or know people who are. They'll still be around after you graduate, but it can be less awkward to ask for their advice and guidance while you're in school. It is best to build up this stable of resources before you need them, so that when you actually are looking for a job, you can go in and tap it.

Leave Boone

The isolation of the mountains fosters learning, but when it comes to networking, students can get ahead by networking off campus. Check out conferences in your field or the Chamber of Commerce in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro. Rather than using your savings for a spring break in Daytona ... go to a conference that's within your industry. Use social media strategically about six to eight weeks in advance of your landing at that conference to reach out to people who are going to be at that event.

Get an Internship

This is the most obvious option, but it can't be overstated. The value of an internship is tremendous, both in terms of skills and contacts. Employers often hire full-time workers from their internship pool, which means having an internship puts you ahead of other job seekers. In addition to giving you real-life experience to put on your résumé, an internship puts you in eyesight of people who work in your field of choice, which means they're more likely to think of you when job opportunities arise.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools you can use in your career exploration and job search process. Unlike Facebook, which is primarily a “social media” site, LinkedIn is an exponentially growing network of people and corporations who are actively interested in making contacts to find or fill a job, build a professional network, or share information related to their work or industry interests.

With over 160 million members across the globe, LinkedIn is the go-to resource for professional networking and internship and career outreach.

You use LinkedIn to:

  • Track all the contacts you made by engaging in the activities suggested above
  • Contact alumni for informational interviews
  • Find job leads using LinkedIn’s jobs directory
  • Research companies and connect with their employees
  • Stay abreast of news and events in a career or industry
  • Participate in career-specific groups with others sharing your interests

Employers use LinkedIn to:

  • Connect with promising students and follow them throughout their college careers
  • Find internship/career candidates who meet their specific needs
  • Read recommendations from past supervisors and current professors
  • Research clubs and organizations you follow
  • Read your entries and postings to understand more about you
  • Profile prospective candidates prior to inviting them for an interview

New to LinkedIn?

Start with the basics. Then build your profile following these steps.

  • Display a professionally appropriate photo
    • Plain background, professional attire and grooming; do not include other people
  • Create a “searchable” headline, make those 120 characters count!
    • IT specialist devoted to creating stable, scalable solutions for small business
    • Creative Marketer: Social Media & Blogging | Graphics & Video
    • Wordsmith with proven ability to translate business objectives into communications strategies and tactics
    • Finance graduate specializing in corporate finance and audit
  • Write a keyword-rich summary that sells your skills and experience
    • A second year marketing major with an interest in marketing research, advertising, and social media. Seeking a summer internship to assist a company’s branding needs through social media outreach, developing marketing plans, digital marketing, and conducting customer research.
    • Specialties
      • Event planning
      • Social networking and marketing 
      • Account management
      • Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel)
      • Adobe CS5.5 Suite (Photoshop, Flash)
  • Add the information currently on your resume
  • Link to Dean Edwards (Randall Edwards) and Michelle Boisclair to instantly expand your network
  • Join groups of interest including Appalachian Alumni and WCOB Alumni
  • Watch the how to search for a job video

Experienced LinkedIn User?

Consider these tips:

  • First impressions count! Be sure your photo is a professional-looking headshot...no sunglasses or party photos.
  • To "brand" yourself, create a compelling headline for your profile that refers to a unique personal strength or skill.
  • Make sure your summary is keyword rich and relates to your career goals.
  • Include recommendations from your supervisors, instructors, and colleagues on your profile. This will impress potential employers.
  • Be sure to include a few people with large LinkedIn networks among your connections – you’ll have access to a larger pool of people for networking.
  • Create status updates to share personal career news and items of career interest.
  • Use professional courtesy when messaging new contacts. Be clear about who you are and politely describe what you would like from them. Be sure to ask them if there is something you can do for them in return.
  • Join several groups in your career field and contribute to discussions of interest to you; you’ll build rapport with other professionals.
  • Get feedback on your profile from others.

Check out examples of WCOB students, faculty and professional staff:

Tips for connecting with Appalachian alumni

Join the Appalachian and Walker College of Business Alumni groups by searching in the Groups Directory. Scan the group’s Discussions, Members and Jobs for networking opportunities.

Start your own discussion, perhaps post an article with a few personal comments or post a question to group members.

Introduce yourself and your goals: “Hi fellow Mountaineers: I’m new to the group and excited to connect with alums. I’m currently looking for a job as a marketing analyst and eager to connect with any alums with advice on the job search. Thanks!”

Remember also that LinkedIn permits you to send a message or connection request to anyone with whom you share a group on LinkedIn (as long as that person has opted to accept such messages), which will help you build one-on-one relationships with individual group members.

Tap the LinkedIn Alumni tool. This tool provides you with information about where Appalachian alums work, what they do and where they live. The tool pre-fills the years you attended a school listed on your LinkedIn profile and shows you the classmates who attended at the same time. For a broader search, you can enter additional graduation years.

LinkedIn alumni tool

Reach Out. Once you’ve identified some alums in your desired field and location, make contact through a link request. For example:

Hi John,

I’m a fellow ASU alum and came across your profile. I graduating in May with a degree in Management and currently in the job market. I am interested in your career path and was wondering if you might be willing to offer some advice or perhaps chat by phone? I would really appreciate your time.

Thank you and Go Mountaineers!
Michelle

Note that the message immediately mentions the alumni connection, is polite and professional and shows that you’ve done your research on the other person (signifying that you’re not just sending out generic blast messages). You never want to sound desperate and you never want to ask directly for a job or to send a resume. The goal here, as with any good networking message, is to establish rapport and ask for general information and advice. 

Don’t neglect those personal interactions. Make use of opportunities such as organizational meetings, career fairs, internships, volunteering, on-campus interviews, conferences, professors, groups, etc.