4 Creating a network
Once you’ve completed your profile, making connections and building up your network of contacts is one of the key features of LinkedIn that will help you with achieving the next step in your return to STEM, whether to find a job opportunity directly or to help you better understand what your options are.
You can add individuals that you already know one by one by sending them a personalised message. There are also a couple of features that can help you build up your network of connections. ‘Add Connections’ is a tool that uses your email contacts to help you build your network. LinkedIn will then ask for certain permissions to access your contacts. Once you agree to the permissions a list of potential email addresses/contacts will be given to you to follow up.
Another tool, ‘Find Alumni’, helps you to find contacts from your old school/university who are working in an industry, company or location of interest to you. Depending on how long ago you last studied, this could be more or less useful for you.
To connect with new contacts, it is always best to send a personalised message – this can currently only be done via a PC or Mac. It is best not to try to connect with anyone on LinkedIn via a phone or tablet unless you already know them, as a generic connection request is sent.
Activity 6 Search for connections
Search LinkedIn for three people who you have worked or studied with, or who have been influential in your career. If you already have them as connections, look for new people.
You may be curious about others you knew in the past. With LinkedIn you get a much more work-related presentation of people than you may have known socially. Remember, if you look at someone’s profile they will see this, so choose carefully whose name you click on as there is limited anonymity on LinkedIn. You can, through your settings, choose to remain anonymous when you search profiles, but this means you won’t be able to see who clicks on your profile, and you will lose the opportunity to make potential connections.
At this stage, make a note of where the people you have found are and what they are doing in their career at the moment. Try not to get discouraged by the apparent ‘success’ of other people, but use this as an inspiration. If they have not taken a career break they are likely to have progressed more quickly. They may have good tips about how they have managed to achieve success following a career break themselves.
In the next section we’ll suggest some further steps for building your connections.