Use LinkedIn Like an Expert
Use LinkedIn Like an Expert to Track Down Leads
To my mind, finding people to network with is a fun research project. Here's a general overview of how you can do it electronically, using arts in Indianapolis as an example:
- Before jumping onto LinkedIn, I like to get a big picture of the field first: using www.yellowpages.com, I found every organization in the Indy area that wants the public to identify it as related to "arts" through a quick search of "arts" "Indianapolis." From that, I found a lot of sites with people who might be of interest--art galleries, museums, and the Arts Council of Indianapolis, whose staff webpages often include email addresses, for example, http://indyarts.org/staff.
- Next, I researched the people on those staff pages using LinkedIn to see what LI groups they are members of and to see if they share any contacts with me. (You might want to join groups that match your interests.) I searched for Arts Council of Indianapolis, and found a number of people who are second degree contacts with me (that means we are both connected with the same person, but we aren't with each other):
- In one case, the person we have in common is a Hanover alumna who is Public Art Administrator at Louisville Metro Government. She might have ties to the art world in Indy.
- I also found a second degree contact who had served on the Hanover Parents Board, and who is director of sales for a printing firm. I could draw a lot of conclusions from her profile: she uses LinkedIn actively, has business savvy, is well-connected in Indy, with 500+ total contacts, at least some in the arts, has listed that she would like to serve on a nonprofit board (meaning she has an altruistic nature, which might include introducing a Hanover student to her contact in the arts community), and is actively seeking connections in nonprofits. She served for 3 years on the Hanover Parents Board, which tells me she has previously given significant time to help Hanover College and its students. She could be a great lead.
- I also have 7 shared connections with the founder of EditArts in Indy and many more.
Are you getting the picture? You could spend days in fruitful searches on LinkedIn.
- Once you have found someone you are interested in, then you can send me a request for an introduction to anyone with whom I have a first degree contact. LinkedIn has really smoothed this process out: open up the person's profile and then click on the blue "connect" button and select "request an introduction", following the instructions they provide. If you identify me as the person you want to make the introduction, your message comes to me, I add a sentence or two and send it on to the alum. I have done that a dozen times or more this year, and it is very effective. People who use LinkedIn really pay attention to it!
You should also post requests for leads on the Career Center's LinkedIn group, Hanover Career Alumni Network, ("HanoverCAN") which has over 1,000 members now, alumni professionals whose sole purpose in joining the group was to help current students transition to the work world. To learn more about how to use LinkedIn (including improving your profile), see my Job Search Guide, which offers a whole page of tips on that subject.)
Good luck with the search, and let us know how you're doing!