Are you experiencing the same situation that I had when I first moved to the U.S. in 2014? I had almost “zero” connections to people in the U.S. on my LinkedIn. However, I realized it’s important to start building new networks on LinkedIn to get noticed by potential employers. Being on LinkedIn helps someone who was not born and raised in the U.S. like me, build new networks quickly. I’ve consistently built my new network and continue to learn from my mistakes. Throughout my 5 years in the U.S., I built over 2000 new LinkedIn connections with people across the States. However, in this article, my message to you is not about trying to hit the numbers but is about starting small but strong connections on LinkedIn.
Don’t Worry if You’re Not Making as Many Connections as You Hoped
You may think that having as many LinkedIn connections as possible will help increase your chances of landing your dream job in the U.S. However, the quality of connections is more important than the number of connections you make on LinkedIn. When international students seek jobs, they normally have two goals in mind when making connections on LinkedIn:
- Knowing job leads
- Getting referrals
However, it is not courteous to ask for referrals or job leads before making meaningful relationships with someone.
Weak Ties Lead Nowhere, but Strong Ties Lead to Referrals
It is true that having more connections on LinkedIn with keyword optimization will increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters. However, that’s not going to help you jump over the hurdles of immigration questions as you still need to go through the traditional recruitment process. It is this process that does not yield high success for many international students in trying to land a job in the U.S.
Think about how many times you have met or talked to each person that you are connected with on LinkedIn. This will help you find out if your LinkedIn connections are really strong and meaningful. Weak connections are those whom you have never met or have only met or talked to once. Therefore, next time when you want to connect with someone on LinkedIn, begin asking yourself this question – “Why do I want to connect with this person?” Also, be sure to add a note when sending out a connection request.
Well, then how many connections can we (humans) keep as strong ties?
To serve as a reference point, research by anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggests that humans are capable of maintaining relationships with about 150 people. Strive for Dunbar’s number first (150 people) first. Then, slowly expand your network while still maintaining meaningful connections with the professionals you’re genuinely interested in. To learn more about how international students can build and maintain meaningful connections in the U.S. click here.
New to the U.S.? Grow your LinkedIn Network. Now, Starting with Your School Communities
After you’ve built your profile on LinkedIn (please let me know if you need a Guidebook to help you perfect your LinkedIn profile by contacting us here. I’ll be happy to share our guidebook with you), you can start connecting with people you have personally met on Campus. Get to know them as a professional and a person. Ask questions. Learn a new culture. Start building your strong ties by being active and genuine.
Keith Sun, Assistant Director Of Career Services at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati, offers some great insights on how being humble can help set you apart from other students when making connections to build your network.
I wish you all the best in building your LinkedIn network!
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