LinkedIn Stalking 101 – Become a connection making machine

LinkedIn 101

At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd: I just love LinkedIn. I took the BuzzFeed “What social network are you?” quiz and everything. I’m a LinkedIn junkie and I don’t care who knows it!

Our love affair began almost six years ago when I was interning at my college’s career center. I discovered quickly that LinkedIn was a Godsend to twenty-something job seekers.

It was also around that time I learned the very practical art form known as “LinkedIn Stalking”. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

It’s kind of like this: Think about the countless minutes spent finding that Tinder kid on Instagram. But even once you find him it doesn’t end there, does it? Fast forward 30 minutes and you’ve discovered he works with the guy who took you on a date last week, and that his presumable ex-girlfriend (a.k.a there’s pictures of them kissing in 2013 on her feed) is a semi-famous fashion blogger.

My time spent scrolling through LinkedIn isn’t much different in that I’m most interested in finding connections. Connections between companies and people, people and influencers, influencers and groups. Most importantly, I’m interested in how these connections can help me advance as a professional. I’m happy to say, my LinkedIn stalking skills have paid off. I’ve built a killer professional network, been published, had a leg up in many interviews, and even found a job.

So allow me to share some of my LinkedIn stalking secrets with you.

Finding A Job On LinkedIn

//Photo Courtesy: Moving Insider //

If you’re looking for a new job.

Over the last few years, LinkedIn has become the dominant player for job recruitment. A study found that 87 percent of job seekers would prefer LinkedIn over Indeed as their preferred recruitment channel. As for recent college graduates, research has shown that 24 percent of entry-level candidates use LinkedIn primarily for job searching. Cliff notes version: If you’re looking for a job and you’re not active on LinkedIn, you’re missing out on opportunities.

The most important LinkedIn feature to use as a job seeker is the “See How I’m Connected” tab on company pages. When I was looking for a job I would research the company on LinkedIn FIRST. Why? Because LinkedIn tells me something the company’s website doesn’t: how I’m connected to the people there. In a day when the emphasis is on “who you know”, it’s important to find a connection right away.

If you discover you’re connected to someone at that company, jackpot! Send them a message on LinkedIn with a link to the job you’re interested in and ask if they know anything about the position or could introduce you to the right person to talk to. If you find you have second-degree connections (meaning someone you know, knows them), then here’s how to filter:

  1. Find the shared connection you would be most comfortable asking for an introduction from.
  2. Find someone who is either in HR or in the department the job is in.
  3. Find the most senior level person possible – their referral will carry more weight with the company.

Next, ask for an introduction through LinkedIn. Explain to your connection that you’re interested in a job at this company and it would be great to speak to someone who works there. Finish by saying: “I see you’re connected to ____. I would be so grateful if you could set up an introduction…”.

Boom. You’re one step closer to having an “in” at that company.

Making Connections on LinkedIn

//Photo Courtesy: Idealist Careers//

If you want to connect with new people in your field.

Perhaps the most underrated and underutilized feature of LinkedIn is Groups. Don’t be fooled, most of my stalking begins with people I find in LinkedIn groups. First, join groups related to your area of expertise, industry, alumni, passions, social causes, and other aspects of your identity. This gives you access to more people who matter to your brand and profession.

Pay attention to the discussion board conversations in your groups. Those who are actively posting and commenting are most likely using LinkedIn as a networking tool themselves, and therefore would be most likely to respond if you reached out to them. It may seem awkward to send a message to someone you only know online (hey, Tinder?), but funny enough, having a common “Group” in common, is actually a great ice breaker. When you send them a connection request say something like this:

“Hi _____, I’m a fellow member of ______, and looking to connect with other professionals in the field. Enjoyed reading your insight in the group and would appreciate the connection! Best, ____”

Simple and to the point. Once you’ve officially connected with them, follow up with a message thanking them for the connection and opening up a conversation about your industry. I’ve built some incredible connections using this tactic and find it most effective if you want to build your network beyond co-workers, classmates, and past professors.

Freelancer on LinkedIn

// Photo Courtesy: Play Skills Network //


If you’re a freelancer looking for potential clients.

Since starting my own business, I’ve found LinkedIn as a great tool for finding client leads. While the LinkedIn job board is great, and searching with the keyword “freelance” or “contract” is certainly a good tactic, I find my best leads come from reaching out to individuals directly. I work primarily with small business owners, so I will join groups that cater toward that demographic. If you don’t know where to start, find someone you’ve freelanced for in the past and see what groups they’re members of. Chances are they’re connected with similar people.

Additionally, if you’re viewing a past client’s profile you will see in the top right-hand corner a tab labeled “People Similar To ____”. This is the ultimate stalking tool.  People in this list will have similar job titles/professions as your connection, which means they’ll probably have similar wants and needs. For instance, I’m looking for the keywords “Owner” or “Creator” in a headline.

When it comes time to pitch a potential client, definitely use LinkedIn’s messaging tool. Not only does it convey professionalism, but LinkedIn now guarantees a response or will credit you back the inMail message. I would advise you do your research before sending a cold-pitch. Before I send a message I will look at the company’s social media accounts and website to get a better sense of how my services could benefit their business., and cater my pitch to my findings.

And my biggest tip, no matter what you’re using this platform for: Get in the habit of being active LinkedIn more regularly. I get it, even with the online buffer, making connections on LinkedIn can be awkward. But I promise the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel putting yourself out there.

So there you have it. You have officially been deemed a resident LinkedIn stalker. Happy browsing!

For more fun facts about my favorite social network, check out 22 LinkedIn Secrets LinkedIn Won’t Tell You
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1 Comment

  • How to: A LinkedIn Bio For The Non-Basic Bitch
    September 29, 2015 - 4:52 am