One of my friends recently said to me, “I want to look up the woman I’m interviewing with on LinkedIn, but I’m nervous she will think it’s creepy.”
“Stop right there!” I told her, and I want all of you to repeat after me: LinkedIn is not Facebook.
The professional networking tool was specifically designed to connect people with one another, so you shouldn’t feel “creepy” contacting someone via the site. On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg and Co. know it’s “stalker-ish” to scroll through your ex-boyfriends tagged pictures — that’s why they don’t have the same notifications LinkedIn does. No one would utilize Facebook nearly as much if the person we “creeped” knew we were, in fact, creeping.
Similarly, if it was considered weird to check out people’s pages on LinkedIn, then its “People Also Viewed” feature wouldn’t be enabled, because then no one actually would use the site! In fact, potential employers often are impressed when they see you took the time to research and connect with them — and the story of how I got my job is proof of that.
I was part of a “Super Day,” which, for those of you don’t know, is when a company invites college graduates from all over the country to interview for entry-level positions. These Super Days are competitive and are usually the last round of interviews with the company’s top candidates. It’s important to stand out among the crowd, as most of the students there are competing for the same position. One of my strategies was to develop a sincere connection with the people I interviewed with, and a key tactic to achieve this was asking questions about their career. I know that people like to talk about past successes, and it would show I did my research while also giving me the opportunity to learn about my interviewers on a personal level.
My Super Day was going great and I felt confident, but I was starting to wear out after back-to-back interviews. My very last interview was with the chief sales officer of the company, and I knew I had to bring my A-game. One of the first things he said to me was, “You know, out of all of the interviewees we have here, you were the only one to look me up on LinkedIn. That’s impressive.” The rest of the interview was simply us getting to know each other. No grueling questions, just a simple conversation talking about his career and making a true connection.
A few weeks later, I heard I got the job. Of course, it took more than looking up my interviewers on LinkedIn to score the position, but it certainly helped me stand out, and also prepared me to ask the right questions.
So the next time you’re not sure if it’s considered creepy to look someone up on LinkedIn, take the risk and put yourself out there. Show that you’re interested in the company and the people who work there. Most important, don’t be shy about utilizing this amazing tool to ask the right questions and truly get to know your potential boss.
More often than not, it will be a risk you won’t regret taking.
What are your tips for connecting with people you don’t know on LinkedIn? Tell us in the comments.