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Part Five: Linkedin Networking

Max is an aspiring consultant who is looking to secure an analyst role with one of the top firms for the upcoming recruitment cycle in September 2011. His interest in management consulting was sparked by a failed McKinsey interview last year. In this series of blogs, he will be sharing his background, case preparation process, useful resources, and any breakthroughs or setbacks that he experiences.

***

Throughout my preparation process I have dedicated some time each week to do LinkedIn networking, and today I want to share with you some of the things I have learned. For those of you who don’t know, LinkedIn is a social network that has a more professional orientation than Facebook or Twitter. In order to reach out to consultants on LinkedIn, I did the following things:

• Join your school’s alumni group

• Join your faculty’s alumni group

• Join a consulting group that is open to the public (I found two such groups)

• Aggressively build your own connections on LinkedIn (this affects who comes up in search results, and the more people you know the better)

Unfortunately, after LinkedIn went public they now require a paid membership for members who are not direct connections to message each other. Prior to the IPO, I believe that you could message 2nd degree or Group connections for free. Fortunately for me, I was able to get some networking done before I had to start paying, but the fee isn’t too bad. The following are some of the things I learned from my efforts on LinkedIn networking:

• Start early. Consultants are very busy people, and they often take a week or two to get back to you.

• Be genuine. The people you are messaging are very smart, and know why you are getting in touch with them. You have to be yourself in your messages you send, and not overdo anything. Also, don’t be offended if they don’t message back.

• Keep the message short. Again, consultants are very busy people, so keep the initial message short and to the point. If he or she agrees to help you, then send a longer message if needed.

• Try to find consultants who have something in common with you. Some examples include: school, undergrad degree, city, extracurricular activities.

Be genuine. The people you are messaging are very smart, and know why you are getting in touch with them.

In general, I find that people are willing to help if you’re genuinely interested in the field, and want to hear their advice. I think the best test for determining whether the message you send is good is to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you got your dream job, and two to three years down the road you get a random message from someone you’ve never met before – what would you want to see in the message? Overall, my networking efforts have been reasonably successful, and I have spoken with at least one consultant from each of the firms I’m interested in. My overall success rate in getting favorable responses is roughly 60%.

One thing to note about the LinkedIn membership is that you only get three “InMails” per month with the base membership. However, if you send an InMail and the recipient doesn’t get back to you within seven days, you will get the credit back.

The last thing I want to mention is that you should really clean up your LinkedIn profile before you start messaging anyone. In all likelihood, the recipient of your message will look at your profile before they even open your message. This is your chance to make a good first impression, so it is very important to have a good profile. By “good profile” I mean that it should contain most of the impressive information you would have on your resume, be proper formatted with no grammatical errors, and include a suitable profile picture (not a cropped picture of you at a club)

Good luck to everyone! The recruitment cycle is getting ever closer, and I’m hoping that my chance to interview will soon arrive.

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