The online job search has an extremely low success rate. So how do you get into your dream company without applying online? A networking-based approach is the solution for uncovering unadvertised jobs and getting a foot in the door. Once you have a foot in the door you can sell yourself to the hiring manager as a top candidate! In this post and video tutorial, we’ll share, how to find the most valuable company contacts using LinkedIn and how to make strategic contact. We will also explain how to use the information LinkedIn provides in order to identify the most strategic contacts for making cold-outreach.
An easy way to find valuable networking contacts
LinkedIn possesses a wealth of networking contacts for job searchers. Therefore you want to become very familiar with the finding valuable contacts at your target companies and strategically incorporating them into your job search.
How it works – conducting a contact search based on company
Using client examples, I’ll show you how this works on a practical level. One client was telling me that he was searching for contacts at the company Better.com. In order to find the right contacts, for foot-in-the-door opportunities to this company, you want to start with LinkedIn. First, you will type “better.com” into the search bar at the top of the LinkedIn page.
And as you start to type the company name, LinkedIn is going to give you a list of companies to choose from. As you see the correct company logo, click on that company to be directed to the company homepage. Once on the company homepage, click on the link highlighting the number of Better.com employees on LinkedIn. This will take you to all of the company’s employees.
Your goal: finding the strongest networking opportunities
Once you have the entire list of employees, your goal is to find the right ones with whom to network. You are looking specifically for people who:
- Will allow you to make “warm” outreach – people with whom you have something in common. These folks include: 1st connections, non-first connections with whom you have a common contact (the common contact may be willing to make the introduction), people in your alumni networks, people who share a common company from your past, etc.
- May be open to cold outreach – you won’t know this until you try to connect
- Will potentially be able to influence the hiring manager
- Know the hiring manager or work within the department / have close proximity to the hiring manager
- Are senior to the hiring manager or the hiring manager
Other clues for finding the right contact
As you are reviewing the list of employees, you may also want to consider the respective contacts’ locations. If you are targeting roles in the greater NYC area, then you will want to target contacts in this area as well. You can use the filters LinkedIn provides above the search results to narrow down contacts by location. This will eliminate contacts outside your target location. If there are no employees or contacts in your target location, it is still advisable to network via phone with any key contacts. You never know what their actual location situation is. They may frequently travel to the company site and have key relationships with target contacts.
How to make the best decisions about which contacts to engage
While LinkedIn is a wealth of information and may provide hundreds of contacts for your search, you still want to be strategic in who you engage, when and how. Therefore you’ll need to be extra strategic in deciding which information will best serve your goal of getting a foot in the door. Start by scrolling through each contact in the list and skimming their headlines or titles. As you scroll, you’re going to get a sense of whether or not this is someone to add to your networking target list.
Company recruiters: key networking contacts or roadblocks?
Inevitably in your searching you may come across corporate recruiters – the folks tasked with recruiting for your target company. Since recruiters are gatekeepers, and more inclined to screen a cold-contact out, I tend to bypass recruiters and aim for contacts closer to the hiring manager. I do, however, take note of a few recruiters in my target area, as a kind of second-tier networking contact. You may need to engage the recruiters at this company at some point. So I don’t leverage recruiters as my first outreach into the company. Rather, I leave them for the end, when all other contact outreach/networking opportunities fail.
Be attentive to your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd company connections
One thing to be aware of as you scroll the contact list is any first connections at your target company. You may have an easier “in” to the company than you realize based on a first connection. You would be surprised how often we lose track of our former colleagues, only to learn they are employed by one of our target companies! The same can go for 2nd and 3rd degree connections on LinkedIn. You may see desirable company contacts that have a connection in common. You want to click on these common connections (listed under the profile) and consider how you might leverage this common contact for a connection.
What to do when you have a mutual connection or 1st degree connection at your target company
If you have a first connection at the company, whom you know well, consider your relationship and reach out accordingly to set up a meeting. Do not feel you have to message your contact through LinkedIn. LinkedIn messaging can tend to be lost on some people and is way less personal than a text, call, or email. Instead, send a message using a medium that is most conducive to your relationship.
What to do when you don’t know anyone at your target company
In my client’s particular case, he did not know anyone in the employee list on LinkedIn. In this case you want to make cold outreach with a client who is in your target department or space. My client was looking to get into account management or sales at Better.com. So I then adjust my search strategy to directly target people in the sales field.
Remember: the best people to contact are those who are sitting in sales. You want to be in contact with anyone who is near the hiring manager. This could include the hiring manager. Your last resort would be recruiters or HR. A sales manager would be one option for my client to consider, so I will flag the sales manager when I come across her profile. After I flag the contact or make note of her name, I keep scrolling and searching for other potentials.
The goal when researching cold contacts at your target company
The goal here is to identify 3-5 contacts with whom you will make outreach so that you can try to get a foot in the door! Remember – you are only in research mode at this point. Your outreach strategy will be entirely different, but only after you’ve found all of your target contacts.
An easy tip for expanding your research
Sometimes you may come across a company or employee list that seems a bit tapped out in terms of potential networking contacts. When this happens, you want to find more companies like your target company. This will allow you to uncover more opportunities in your target space in the event your target company is not hiring. In order to find more similar companies, click on the profile of one of your target contacts at Better.com. Once on her profile, I scroll down and to the right to see the LinkedIn feed called: People Also Viewed. These people have something in common with your target contact based on her profile and according to LinkedIn’s algorithm. It could be similar keywords, education, companies, titles, etc. You have a very good chance of finding more target contacts and companies by scrolling through this feed each time you come across a contact that catches your eye.