When you're looking for jobs, who you know can be as important as your qualifications. Your connections can provide you with inside information on available jobs at a company. They can give you information on the hiring process and what it's like to work at the company. They might even be able to help you secure an interview. Connections can also write you recommendations, give your resume a close look, and help you prepare for an interview.
It's not only who you know personally who can help; it's also the people you know can refer you to. These second-degree connections may be able to assist you as well.
If you know what company or companies you are interested in working for, try to find contacts at those companies. Read below for information on different ways to find contacts at companies, from networking online to going to alumni events to sending out email messages.
Finding Contacts Using LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the most popular website for professional networking. The site offers several ways for you to find contacts at a company.
First, search your LinkedIn Connections to see who you know at a company. There are many ways to do this. You can search for a company name in the search bar at the top left corner of the screen. Then, click on the “People” tab at the top of the screen. This will show you any of your connections that work, or have worked, at that company.
Another option after your search for a company name is to click on the “Companies” tab at the top of the screen. Then, you can click on the company’s LinkedIn page, which will list any connections you have at the company.
You will be able to see people who are first-degree connections, meaning you are connected with them, as well as second-degree connections, meaning they are connected to someone you know. You can also see third-degree connections and connections beyond that.
Also, search the Groups Directory by keyword. Many companies and groups of companies have Groups you can join. Once you're a member you will be able to interact with the other group members. This is a good way to connect with people at multiple companies within your industry.
Once you find someone you know at a company, you can reach out to them through LinkedIn’s messaging system. If you find a second-degree connection, look at your shared connections with that person. Reach out to one of your shared connections, and see if he or she is willing to connect the two of you.
Facebook also may be helpful to find contacts listed by employers. Use the find friends feature and enter the name of the company you are researching. A resulting list will include employers listed under your search terms. Select the correct employer and a listing of profiles will populate for you to choose from.
College Career Networking
If you are a college student or graduate, you likely have some company contacts that you don’t even know about. Check with your college career services office and alumni affairs office to see if there is an online career network you can access to search for alumni at a company.
Your university may also have LinkedIn and Facebook groups you can use to connect. Join their group or groups, and search for people who work at companies of interest.
Get Contacts by In-Person Networking
Networking in person is really important, too. You can't beat that one-on-one interaction, especially when you're seeking help. If you belong to a professional association, attend a meeting or a mixer. You'll find that many of the participants have the same goals you do, and may have contacts at the companies you're interested in.
If your college or university holds alumni networking events, be sure to attend. Join the local chapter of your alumni association.
While online databases and networking events are terrific ways to find connections, don’t forget about old-fashioned networking. Simply reach out to people you know and ask if they know anyone at the companies you would like to work for. Even if they don't know someone personally, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.
You can reach out to your network in many ways. Consider sending an email to friends, family, and work contacts. You might also call or speak in person to people you know who are in your industry.
It makes sense to use a combination of these methods to find connections at various companies. Don't limit yourself to one way or another. When you find a job opportunity you're interested in, check right away to see who you know at the company. Check LinkedIn and your alumni network, reach out to friends and family, and attend any relevant networking events. You never know who might be able to give your candidacy a boost.