It’s critical to make use of connections to the company when you are applying for a position. Job seekers sometimes struggle to come up with such connections if they don’t happen to know someone who works there. Here are some things you can do to dig up connections:
The easiest way to locate connections is through the “Advanced” search functionality on LinkedIn. Look up your target company and see if you have any first, second or third degree connections to the company. Ask first degree connections to introduce you to second degree connections. Don’t overlook past employees. They may have great connections within the current organization.
Join professional groups associated with your target company and industry. LinkedIn groups are an excellent resource. There are also many professional groups on the internet. Within the groups you may quickly find connections to your target company.
Introduce yourself and ask your new contact to tell you more about the company. Do not ask a brand new connection to introduce you to someone in the company. He or she needs to get to know you first. Beginning with a dialog about the company and the job is a good starting point. For more, read “The Art of the Cold Contact”.
Groups related to job types and professions are also a good resource. It tends to be a “small world” within job categories and you will often find connections to a target company this way. Another resource is local or regional groups for job seekers.
Post a Query
You can ask for insights into a company by posting a question on the right discussion board. For example, a sales rep was targeting a job at a local manufacturer. He asked a group of sales professionals if anyone had experience with his target company. A company insider contacted him directly, giving him just the connection he was searching for. He was able to learn a great deal about the opportunity and his new contact was willing to send his resume directly to the hiring manager. Keep your public query brief and ask for private replies if appropriate.
Your contacts at related companies including competitors, vendors and clients of your target company may have valuable connections for you. Search LinkedIn for connections in related companies and industry.
Resourcefulness and persistence are the keys to finding insider connections. Remind yourself of how critical these connections are by reading “Job Search as a Sales Process and Why Connections Count.”