If you’re new to LinkedIn, it can feel a bit awkward to get started. The first step is completing your profile. Your school will have a workshop on how to complete your LinkedIn profile but YouTube also has plenty of tutorials.

LinkedIn is more than a profile – you have an entire community of people with professional interests like yours. You need to find those people. Connecting with people on LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to learn about new positions, get advice, and share your ideas so you can get noticed. Once you have a profile, it’s time to find connections.

Start with the people who are closest to you. Find and ask people you know to connect on LinkedIn with you. These people might be:

  • Professors and faculty
  • International student office staff
  • Club leaders
  • Classmates
  • Roommates
  • Coaches
  • Your host-parents or older siblings
  • Former co-workers

You can either ask them in person or send them a LinkedIn request if you see their profile. Always send a personalized email! If you know the person, just a simple “Hello friend, let’s stay connected on here!” message is more interesting than the standard LinkedIn message.

Next, start building a network of people you don’t know. These people can be alumni from your school, people in a company that you want to work at, or people you admire. It’s acceptable in American culture to reach out to a professional you don’t know and invite to connect on LinkedIn.

To do this, you need to send a customized introduction message telling them why you want to connect. These are referred to as a cold message because you don’t yet know the person. Warm messages are to people you already know, like the ones listed above. Using a template makes reaching out to unknown contacts easier.

Once you have the basics of LinkedIn, you’re ready to start informational interviews. If you’re new to informational interviewing, explore how to do it in our Informational Interview webinar for international students.

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