Finding Connections

6 minutes, 1 link


Updated June 8, 2022

You’re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resources—including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

Roshni Chellani,* a Qualcomm engineer and LinkedIn influencer, says, “Students would have much more success with LinkedIn if they perceive it as a way to propel their curiosity by making genuine, lasting connections rather than perceiving it as a mere job search engine.”

And she did exactly that. She spent countless hours understanding the intricacies of how LinkedIn works to experiment with the lesser-known features and form lasting connections. Thanks to her curiosity, she ended up meeting Jay Shetty, a famous author and motivational speaker.*

The journey doesn’t end with creating a stellar profile; it begins with it.

In the beginning, it’s better to cast a wide net. Start connecting with the people you already know. Beyond that, Roshni suggests using groups, university pages, and company pages to find more people to connect with.

Groups: To find like-minded people, you need to be a part of groups that matter to you. As of this writing, LinkedIn has close to 1.87 million groups.* Find the Groups option under the Work pane on your top right corner. Using the search functionality, look for groups related to your interests and university (both undergraduate and graduate school).

The biggest selling point of LinkedIn groups is the lack of barriers to sending messages to second- and third-degree connections. When you are part of a LinkedIn group, you can message anyone in the group, even if you aren’t connected or don’t have a premium subscription.*

This is a huge win for many reasons. First, you aren’t constrained by the length of the message, unlike a connection request that caps you at 300 characters. Second, it shows up as a regular message in their inbox instead of a connection request, thus improving the chances of visibility. Finally, they can see that you both are part of a group and hence already have a common ground to kick off a conversation.

actionIf you don’t find a particular group you were looking for, simply create one yourself.

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University pages: Some of the most helpful people you meet will turn out to be the alumni from your undergraduate and graduate school. Having walked the same roads and sat through relatable courses, they get you. All you need to do is reach out and make an introduction. The university pages on LinkedIn make this terribly easy by having an Alumni tab.

Every university has its own page on LinkedIn with an Alumni tab. The highlight here is the ability to filter across seven categories:* location, company, job title, major, top skill, start and end year of school, and degree of connection.

Using this powerful capability, you can easily filter to find people who are, say, product managers at one of the Salesforce offices in the U.S. who completed their degree at Columbia University between 2005 and 2020.

Using this feature, you can reach out to a small set of targeted alumni with a tailored introduction.

If you have some more time on hand, peruse the Videos section to find something interesting. If you notice a video featuring someone or a comment by someone you find insightful, connect right away and mention this in your message.

80% of students don’t do this. Be the 20%.

Company pages: This is very similar to university pages. Instead of an Alumni tab, you will find a People tab with almost all the categories as before, except the company name is now switched with the university name and you no longer have the feature to specify the start and end year of school.

In addition to the tabs seen under a university, every company has a Life section that can be leveraged to your advantage. Under the Life tab, you can find trending posts, articles, and testimonials from the employees. This is a great starting point to use to connect with someone and let them know that you read their post.

We want you to spend some time on this topic, since your first degree connections will have a huge impact on your experience using the tool. If you are connected with a diverse set of students and employees (across various universities, companies, location, and industry), your LinkedIn home feed will also be diverse. If you only connect with your friends and peers from your bachelor’s, you are limiting the potential to be exposed to more rich content.

Being a product manager, a majority of my connections are also product managers at different levels in their career, which leads to me being exposed to content related to building products more so than any other topic. As the years pass, you will also naturally gravitate towards a specific archetype of people and content. For now, keep your network wide.

Sending the First Message

First impressions matter.

Most of the LinkedIn requests we see have the following generic template:

Hi Siya,

Hope you’re well! My name is Neel, and I’m an incoming master’s student at [university] majoring in [said major]. I wanted to connect with you to learn more about your company and your role there.

Thanks in advance.

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