Have You Connected with Your Professors on LinkedIn?

Professors have large career networks of former students.

by Donna Svei on November 18, 2010

Have you connected with your professors, especially those in your major, or your graduate program, on LinkedIn? Rich DeMatteo (@CornOnTheJob), a Philadelphia recruiter, suggested doing this on #LinkedInChat a couple of weeks ago.

Rich’s idea makes a ton of sense. Why? Well, many of your professors probably match Malcolm Gladwell’s definition of a Connector. Gladwell says that Connectors know lots of people. Your professors know lots of people. The longer they’ve been teaching, the more people they know.

Sweetly, your professors know many people who have the same training you have. These people, because you’re alums of the same school, and perhaps the same program, will be more likely to give you informational interviews, refer you to jobs, and hire you than people who don’t share your background.

So, connect with your professors. They want you to succeed. Then they want you to make munificent gifts to your alma mater. Think of it as a win/win. Or they might just enjoy catching up over a beer. After you’ve connected with your professors, review their networks to see if there’s anyone you might like to get to know. If there is, move ahead with a professional, mutually respectful and beneficial, networking strategy.

Nervous? Shy? Please realize that some of these people probably want to meet you as much you want to meet them. They might be hiring managers looking for someone a lot like themselves to fill an open position. They might be eligible for an internal referral bonus if they find the right person for an open job at their company. Etc.

One final note, where your fellow alums have completed their LinkedIn profiles, you can also look at their work histories and find possibilities for your career. What have they done with their training that you might also do with yours? That’s a nice creative resource to have.

BTW, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/donnasvei. My email address is donnasvei@gmail.com. I love connecting with people who read my blog!

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at donnasvei@gmail.com or call me at (208) 721-0131.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rich DeMatteo @CornOnTheJob November 19, 2010 at 13:31

Thanks so much for this. Really great point you have in there on how teachers are connectors. I also thought it was great to mention the internal referral bonus.

Awesome!

Diana Antholis November 20, 2010 at 12:23

Donna & Rich, great suggestion. I did this with undergrad but not as much as with grad school. I was fortunate to be part of a small specialized cohort in grad school so I received extra special attention and really was able to build strong relationships with professors.
I also worked as a graduate assistant for the department chair. That is another suggestion, if you are still in grad school. Really get to know your professors by helping them with their research projects.
When I graduated, they were ALL more than happy to offer recommendations, put me in contact with other alumni or executives, and even offer *honest* advice when I asked about a doctoral program.
They are my contacts on LinkedIn, but I am able to email or call them at any time to chat.

Thanks!
Diana

Donna Svei aka AvidCareerist November 20, 2010 at 15:14

I love it so much when people comment on my posts and add to what I have written. The old two heads are better than one thing and all!

Thank you Diana.

Tamara Burns December 28, 2010 at 11:43

Thanks for this great post! I think it is extremely important to connect with your professors on LinkedIn since they are experts in their industry and probably can be helpful in obtaining a job down the road. It’s just as important as keeping a connection with people after you meet them while networking. http://www.learn.colostate.edu/blog/entry.dot?id=206380

Ellen Bremen July 6, 2011 at 11:28

Thank you for this important resource to connect students-professors in such a beneficial way. I am a prof (I teach undergrads) and wanted to add a couple of thoughts: I have often accepted students’ requests on LI, but only after the term is finished. It my mind, it is more appropriate to wait until that time. Secondly, there have been times that I have not accepted students’ requests, and I know that I am not alone in that, based on hearing same from my colleagues. The reasons vary: Not knowing the student well enough to open up my professional network, not feeling that I could comfortably recommend the student if asked, or not remembering the student because their relationship with me is too dated (This is rare, but has happened). My suggestion to students is that if you have some doubt as to whether you should ask your prof to connect with you via LI, drop an e-mail asking them if they are comfortable with it and say that you would appreciate the opportunity to stay connected professionally. Also, if the relationship is dated, tell the prof in the e-mail when you had his/her class, a little about what you are doing now, etc. If nothing else, this is important networking practice! I value the discussion in this article and am going to use it as a conversational springboard in several of my classes. Many thanks. Ellen Bremen, M.A. @chattyprof http://chattyprof.blogspot.com.

Ellen, Thank you for sharing those guidelines. People, including myself, are always looking for information about the best way to navigate relationships on social media platforms. Donna

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