How to Communicate and Network on LinkedIn

This is a social media site that is primarily used for business purposes. Therefore, your communications and connections should be professional yet authentic to your style.  Think about how you interact with professors, advisors, project peers, and recruiters, and then translate that style into LinkedIn.  Be proactive with LinkedIn and use its tools to portray a positive and active professional persona.  Recruiters and peers prefer to connect with people who are positive, thoughtful, and productive.  When you are building your profile, connecting, or posting you should consider the acronym “OCEAN” to understand how communications and actions can show your personality.


Openness – Show your flexibility, creativity, adventure.
Examples: (1) Show breadth of projects and volunteer activities. (2) To show your interest/passion for a subject you might post, “Looking forward to Thermodynamics this semester!” (3) Show architectural and cultural pictures of study abroad to highlight the amount of learning you are experiencing. (4) Show tinkering and personal projects.

Conscientiousness – Show your principled actions and detail orientation.
Examples: (1) Read posts on company LinkedIn sites, and posting observations or thought-provoking questions (2) Post, “Tutored a struggling student today and helped him discover new ways to think about physics.  Helped me clarify principles of terminal ballistic forces as well.” (3) Customize your connection request to a recruiter by outlining a detail from your past networking encounter.

Extraversion – Display positivity and willingness to maintain a large network.
Examples: (1) Periodically comment professionally on your connections’ pages. (2) Provide a recommendation to a peer highlighting his/her skills and contributions. (3) Show excitement in learning by posting, “Looking forward to discussing new research at ASEE National Conference next week.”

Agreeableness – Show your concern for others, harmony, and team productivity.
Examples: (1) Participate in teaming retreats or efficiency events like Kaizen. (2) Pick skills from LinkedIn list that highlight this trait like Group Work and Team Operations and receive endorsements from peers. (3) Post, “Best of luck to my colleague as she presents at the IEEE conference.”

Neuroticism – Display emotional stability and good stress management.
Examples: (1) Post, “Even though the resources were delayed until the event start, our team had processed ahead to how we could quickly implement and demonstrate no break in service to our customers.” (2) Identify the Stress Management skill as one of your strengths and getting endorsed for it. (3) Pinpoint in your projects area that your projects’ deliverables were consistently on time. (4) Post future-focused or positive present activities and avoid dwelling on past issues or things out of your control.


Other LinkedIn Communication & Networking Tips

Being purposeful and thoughtful with your communications in all areas of LinkedIn is important but here are some targeted tips for networking or communicating in certain areas of LinkedIn:

Tailor your connection message
  • If you are wanting to connect with a colleague, explain why you want to connect or remind them what you have in common professionally.
  • If you are wanting to connect with someone that you don’t really know, research the person by viewing his/her profile.  Change the wording in your request by highlighting the things you have in common or asking for connection based on specific professional reasons.  Ex. “I would like to actively follow ‘XYZ company’ and discuss rotational co-op opportunities.”
Use your account and be responsive
A major advantage of LinkedIn is that you get real-time information from those in your network about professional happenings.  Make sure you reply to any personal messages within a few days.  Follow the updates of companies and individuals, and reply to threads periodically to show interest in maintaining their connection.  Update your status often using the OCEAN guidelines and let your network know what professional actions you are taking.

Keep it professional and to the point
Be as clear and brief with your communications as possible so that people will read your material.  Double-check your spelling, grammar, style and tone because your words will be seen by many and represent your attention to detail in communication.

Be generous in your time and thank your network
Your network is more likely to help you when you thank them often and do things for them.  Expect to give more than you get.

Join LinkedIn groups related to your network
Group discussions can help keep you informed and strengthen your ties to individuals.  Professional associations, volunteer groups, and your school’s alumni groups have common ground with your interests and strengths.  Alumni usually have an extra interest in seeing students succeed from their alma mater.

Ask your professional contacts for advice, not jobs
Requesting a brief private phone/e-mail conversation can often yield a better result than a request that is not entirely in your contact’s control.  If you have kept an active connection with this person and researched the company he/she is associated with, your efforts to ask that person’s advice show that you are a professional, young engineer and potential colleague.

Connect with HR managers
When applying for a position online, attempted to connect with the hiring manager or HR manager at the company to let them know that you have a high-level of interest in the position.  Indicate that you recently applied for a particular position and indicate that you would be grateful if they reviewed your application.  When you make a personal connection, there is a higher likelihood that your application and resume will get serious consideration.


The Employment Process Menu


Step 1: Understanding Employers and the College Recruiting Process

    -Maintain a Positive Attitude

Step 2: Determine Career Goals and Skillset

Step 3: Identify Preliminary Target Employers and Industries

Step 4: Develop Effective Marketing Materials

Step 5: Search for Specific Employment and Research Target Companies