At most of my presentations, students ask me how they can find professional contacts in order to put the Power Ties system into practice and find a U.S. job. I tell everyone to start building a professional network with their school’s alumni directory – particularly if they can find alumni who were international students themselves and went through a similar U.S. job search. The alumni directory is the warmest place to start, but what if you’ve exhausted it? Here are some quick internet techniques to use to find people to reach out to.
Using the Internet to Build Your Professional Network
Open the “advanced search” function in Google. Paste into the “all these words” field the email address of one of your existing contacts. This should be someone whose contact information you already have and who works in a field (or for a company) that interests you. In the ‘file type’ drop down box, select PDF. Click search and see what comes up. This technique can quickly bring up lists of contacts who work in the same field or for the same company as your original contact. The lists tend to come from professional associations, conferences, charitable organizations and other groups that you might want to connect with. The quality of the lists often depends on how old they are, but it’s incredible how much contact information you can capture by searching this way.
Building a professional network through LinkedIn used to be easy. All you had to do was join a bunch of “Groups” representative of the field you’d like to enter, and you’d get immediate access to names, titles and companies. You could then send emails directly to these people through LinkedIn, or plug the names and titles into Google and pull up contact information. Unfortunately, LinkedIn has decided to provide group members only the first name and last initial of other group members so it’s much tougher to pull up contact information. And they no longer allow you to send an email through the system. Now you need to be connected in order to do these things. Not quite as powerful; and I’m still crying about this.
In any event, you can still capture loads of contacts through the PDF search technique above. Remember, however, that the objective is to get as many contacts as you can through referrals. When you go on an informational interview, you want to walk out of the meeting with a few names of other people you can connect with for interviews. A referral is the warmest way to build your professional network, and it will move you fastest toward your U.S. job.