7 Actionable Strategies To Build A Strong LinkedIn Network When You Are A PhD With No Industry Experience

Things in my job search started to really pick up once I started taking networking seriously.

I was attempting to network for a job in a location different from where I was currently living and this was a huge challenge.

Despite this, I persisted.

I began cold-contacting people over LinkedIn who were in my targeted industry and area.

This led to a small number of valuable connections over the following months, and I fostered these connections by initiating phone calls and regular contact via email.

How I actually landed my new position is an interesting story.

It was a friend/colleague of one of these initial contacts I made who connected me with what would be the phone screen for my current position.

A 2nd degree connection, if you will.

He was in the feasibility research field for conducting clinical trials, something that I had never even considered.

However, once I realized that this type of work involved exactly what I loved about science (summarizing medical research, medical writing, and giving scientific presentations), I was shocked to find out how well the position suited me.

He was able to refer me to a phone screen for a Feasibility Research Fellow position that focuses on oncology/medical device trials.

I proceeded through the interview process, which consisted of a phone screen, a writing assignment, an in-person interview/brief presentation, and was offered the job within 48 hours of the interview!

The main lessons I learned were that getting a job is about people and relationships, not resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

While these are important, forming relationships with PEOPLE is how to succeed in your transition.

Additionally, be open to new ideas and position types; you never know when you’ll stumble across something you’ll love.

Why LinkedIn Is Vital To A Successful Industry Job Search

LinkedIn is a huge professional networking platform and it is growing.

Hootsuite reported that 2 people join LinkedIn every second and LinkedIn currently has more than 590 million users.

This is an incredible resource for you to leverage.

If you are not using LinkedIn you are missing out on a huge resource.

Plus, Forbes reported that 45% of the people on LinkedIn are in upper management.

This is a place where you can connect with and learn from company leaders.

Within the vast network of LinkedIn you will be able to find people in the companies and positions that you are interested in.

You can set up informational interviews to learn about new companies and positions.

But it’s up to you to show these new connections that you are a valuable addition to their network.

Just creating a profile isn’t enough, you need to engage with the LinkedIn community.

7 Actionable Strategies You Can Use Expand Your LinkedIn Network

If you are serious about getting an industry job, then you need to get serious about networking.

You need to start using all the tools available to you to build up a great professional network.

And no matter where you are located LinkedIn is a great resource to begin networking.

Academia may have told you that LinkedIn isn’t important, but this is not true in industry.

Having a LinkedIn profile and connecting with other industry professionals will show employers that you are serious about your career outside the ivory tower.

Here are 7 LinkedIn networking strategies you can apply to your job right away…

1. Search and send personalized connection requests.

The easiest way to start expanding your LinkedIn network is to search for people you want in your network and send them a connection request.

To do this strategically, decide on a several target companies and start connecting with people who work there.

All you need to do is use the search for people function on LinkedIn and then choose a company to search.

This will bring up all the 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections that you have at these companies.

Once you have this list, start connecting!

But, always send a personalized note with your connection request.

This note that you send should not ask for anything and it should not be about you.

The note should be about the other person and give a quick note about why you want to connect with them.

When you are first starting to build up your LinkedIn network you should be sending several of these connection requests everyday.

Once you have built up your network, this is still something you should continue on a regular basis.

2. Update your profile correctly and completely.

LinkedIn uses an algorithm to decide what people appear in the search results and what items appear on people’s news feeds.

If your profile is incomplete LinkedIn will not rank your profile highly in these results and it will be difficult to expand your network.

So, the first thing you need to do before you start reaching out to new connections is to get your LinkedIn profile in order.

Write a future focused headline that includes keywords for the types of positions you are targeting.

Use a professional photo of your in business attire – not a lab coat.

Write a personalized summary that conveys your professional brand and also includes keywords for the types of positions you want.

Fill out every section of your profile and include links to media where appropriate, adding media will increase the time that people spend on your profile and that will increase the number of searches that you appear in.

When writing the descriptions for each section of your profile always maintain a results-oriented focus.

3. Join and participate in relevant LinkedIn groups.

There are tons of groups on LinkedIn.

Do a search and find a few groups that are active and that are relevant to your professional career goals.

Join these groups.

Start by joining just a couple groups and formulate a plan to get active within these groups.

Set a schedule for yourself and commit to participating in these groups for a certain amount of time every week.

When you are in the group add value by giving insightful comments on other people’s posts, don’t just say “great post!”.

You are a PhD, you are much more insightful than that.

Truly engage with the group and with the posts people make.

Additionally you should be posting your own updates into the group.

Once you have an idea of the types of content that is posted in the group do you research and find articles etc that you think others in the group would find valuable and post them.

4. Connect with fellow alumni.

You can use the advanced search feature on LinkedIn to search for people at a specific university.

You just need to click on the search bar and then choose the All Filters option, from there you can enter the university that you would like to search.

This will then display all the 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections that you have to people at that university.

Be sure that you search for people at all the universities you have attended or worked at.

As a PhD or postdoc it’s very likely that at some time or another you have been associated with more than one university.

Leverage this to your advantage and reach out to alumni from all these universities.

When connecting with fellow alumni, be sure to mention this in the connection request that you send them.

People are much more likely to accept your request if they feel that sense of connection with you by knowing that you went to the same university.

5. Comment on other people’s posts.

This can be a little bit intimidating at first.

You might be worried about saying something wrong or think it’s weird to comment on the post of someone you don’t know that well…

But this is what LinkedIn is for!

It’s a platform to connect with and communicate with new professional connections.

Don’t let your fear keep you from engaging in conversations.

Set a goal and schedule for yourself to regularly comment on the LinkedIn posts that others make.

This will add value to the contacts that you already have and when you comment on someone’s posts all the people that they are connected to will be able to see the comment.

That means that if they think you wrote something interesting they might head over to your profile and connect with you.

Commenting on other people’s posts is a great way to increase your visibility and show that you are involved in your professional community.

Also, by commenting on others posts you increase the likelihood that they will comment on your posts which will increase your visibility on LinkedIn even further.

6. Regularly write your own posts on LinkedIn using appropriate hashtags.

You have to do more than just have a profile on LinkedIn if you really want to benefit from the platform.

You need to participate.

You need to post updates.

When making these updates they will be shown to people who are in your network, so when you are first starting this can be a small number of people.

A great way to increase the visibility of your updates is to include relevant hashtags.

On LinkedIn people can follow hashtags, similar to how you can follow people on LinkedIn.

So, if your post contains a hashtag that someone follows, your update will appear in their newsfeed, even if you are not connected.

This is a great way to extend your reach and potentially interact with new connections.

It takes some discipline to consistently post updates on LinkedIn.

So set clear goals for yourself and create a plan to make it happen.

The rewards for becoming more involved on LinkedIn can be huge, but you have to put in the work.

7. Don’t get discouraged when people don’t respond.

Not everyone is going to accept your connection request.

Not everyone is going to respond to your messages.

Not all your updates will get likes and comments.

This is normal.

Don’t let this lack of response discourage you from continuing to reach out to new people and expand your network.

Increase your threshold if you are not getting any responses.

Maybe you need to reach out to 10 new people every week, or maybe 100 people in order to get the results you want.

Don’t take someone not responding to you personally.

The best way to connect with someone is to just stay positive and continue to add value to them even if they don’t respond to your messages.

Even if you are starting your LinkedIn profile from ground zero with no connections you can turn your LinkedIn profile into a great job search tool. Start expanding your networking today by following these steps, search and send personalized connection requests, update your profile correctly, join and participate in relevant LinkedIn groups, connect with fellow alumni, comment on other people’s posts, regularly write your own posts on LinkedIn using appropriate hashtags, don’t get discouraged when people don’t respond. LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool that you should be utilizing in your job search.

To learn more about the 7 Actionable Strategies To Build A Strong LinkedIn Network When You Are A PhD With No Industry Experience, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Join Cheeky Scientist Association
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Michael Pace, PhD
Michael Pace, PhD

Michael Pace, PhD, is a professional life scientist with 5+ years of clinically--and translationally--oriented research experience in neurodegenerative disorders, a broad biomedical knowledge base, and a passion for effective scientific communication and discovery.

Similar Articles

The 7 Point Plan That Took Me From Networking Novice To The Center Of Connectivity

The 7 Point Plan That Took Me From Networking Novice To The Center Of Connectivity

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

Networking was one of those things I was always doing “tomorrow.”  It was so much easier to sit down and work on my resume, or change some word choices on my LinkedIn. They were easy and they made me feel like I accomplished something. But really it was like treading water.  I tread this water for months, thinking I was moving somewhere but I was only moving with a gentle current. My actions weren’t actually propelling me in any direction. I wasn’t getting any hits on my LinkedIn, I wasn’t getting any call backs on my resume.  Was I not…

Is Your LinkedIn The Cause Of Employers Ghosting You? 7 Techniques To Get Noticed On LinkedIn

Is Your LinkedIn The Cause Of Employers Ghosting You? 7 Techniques To Get Noticed On LinkedIn

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I began my job search optimistic and determined. There was a job posting that seemed to be written specifically for me. I had all the qualifications, the work was extremely interesting. It was as if I had written exactly what I was looking for in a job and there it was on a job site. I spent all my time on the resume and did not touch my LinkedIn. I felt for sure I would get it, it was just too perfect. Finally, I hit “submit” and waited. For weeks, I heard nothing but I was patient. Then I got…

Intelligent, Powerful Salary Negotiations For PhDs In 5 Simple Steps

Intelligent, Powerful Salary Negotiations For PhDs In 5 Simple Steps

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

Contributing Author: Marios Tsatsos, PhD After my interview, I got a call from the HR department. This was the big phone call – the one about money. I had interviewed well, and the person from HR was calling to let me know he was about to meet with the hiring manager. Hopefully, he said, there would be an offer for me after they met. It was time for the negotiation.  Then he asked about salary…  I didn’t want to give the first number, so I deflected his question with a joke. It worked, and the representative mentioned the first salary…

7 Surprising Moments To Use Silence During An Interview

7 Surprising Moments To Use Silence During An Interview

By: Alejandra Viviescas, PhD

I remember this interview as if it was yesterday. I was just a couple of months out of grad school and actively reaching out to potential clients to establish myself as a freelance medical writer. My biggest mistake was not using silence to my advantage.  This was my third round of interview with this client – I had already made it through the phone screen and the writing test – and it was supposed to be the last. It was a virtual panel interview with the lead editor and fact checker.  I had been preparing for this for weeks, researching…

7 Steps To Take Before The “Second Wave” Of Hiring Freezes

7 Steps To Take Before The “Second Wave” Of Hiring Freezes

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

When I started writing my dissertation in September, I kept my head down. I was focused and determined. I ignored all social gatherings, all other responsibilities, this was my prime directive. 200 pages later, it was done, approved by my committee and my defense date was set, March 7th, 2020.  The defense went great, standing room only. For the first time in months, I could breathe.  Little did I know this would be the last in-person defense at my campus for the foreseeable future. Not even 10 days later, the world would shut down, the pandemic closed everything. I was…

3 Techniques To Climb Your Way To the Top of LinkedIn Keyword Searches

3 Techniques To Climb Your Way To the Top of LinkedIn Keyword Searches

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

When I told my labmates I was working on my LinkedIn profile, they said what for? In their eyes LinkedIn was not for academics. Obviously, since I was getting a PhD in academia, there was no place for me in industry, I had to stay in academia. And so, I stopped asking them to connect. I stopped asking other academics within my university to connect too, and soon I stopped asking everyone to connect. My LinkedIn profile laid dormant for several years while I went through grad school. As I neared the end of my PhD, I realized I wasn’t…

Recessions Are Tough - 3 Ways PhDs Can Be Tougher

Recessions Are Tough - 3 Ways PhDs Can Be Tougher

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Let’s talk about frustration.  I’m talking about the frustration of a rejection in your job search.  Many PhDs are experiencing this kind of frustration in their post-pandemic job search. It’s important for you to understand that Cheeky Scientist has been through this before.  Cheeky Scientist actually came out of the financial crash of 2008 when we were in a recession.  I can tell you firsthand that the mood of the public changes during a recession.  There are fewer jobs.  There’s a greater sense of urgency.  This causes people to get more rejections. And rejection leads to frustration.  So, how can…

5 Ways To Protect Your Informational Interview And Get A Job Referral

5 Ways To Protect Your Informational Interview And Get A Job Referral

By: Aditya Sharma, PhD

The world is your canvas. What does that even mean? I was a PhD looking for an industry job, and that was the kind of advice I used to get. But this one I really struggled with: You’re a PhD – you can do anything. Hearing this sentiment over and over again was not empowering for me, but infuriating. Why? Because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Sure, I could do anything…  But that still left me very lost. The tide shifted when I discovered informational interviews. An informational interview is when you contact a stranger and ask…

5 Smart Moves PhDs Can Make At A Networking Event

5 Smart Moves PhDs Can Make At A Networking Event

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

LinkedIn is an excellent resource for networking, and it makes the whole process easier than ever before. But LinkedIn should not be the only place you are meeting industry professionals. You need to attend in-person networking events too. Meeting in person allows someone to get to know you at a far more significant level than the internet alone will allow. The amount of rapport and relationship-building that can occur during a 10-minute, in-person interaction could take months if attempted over the internet. There is no substitute for face-to-face networking – it’s what we as a species have evolved to do.…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.