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Why GSPM requires students/alums to have 500+ Linkedin Connections

GWU’s Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) prides itself on its reach and influence  around the globe. GSPM students and alumni are viewed as some of the best “connectors” of people and coalitions. Each year, at least one new student, (aka new member of the “GSPM fold”), spends more time arguing about not wanting to connect on LinkedIn than it would take to just connect.  So, why not just be a good team player and work to make your connections?

Where do I start?

One of my mottos is “never reinvent the wheel”. You’ll learn in politics that you need to know a lot of information and you’ll need to learn quickly. So, don’t spend time doing something that’s already been done. LinkedIn has some excellent online information as to how to set up a LinkedIn profile. You can read the information here -- https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-beginner-all-star-8-easy-steps-clifford-wessel/ .

Why do I need 500+ connections anyway?

If you want to work in the political/legislative/public affairs world, you need to know people. And, you need to “know people… who know people”. LinkedIn makes it easy for you. From your desktop computer or phone while you’re at the beach, you can start increasing your connections.

Many employers won’t even interview a candidate before scoping out their LinkedIn connections and making sure the job candidate has at least 500+ connections.  An employer looks much more positively on a well-connected candidate than one who doesn’t appear to know anybody.

Also, many employers hire right off of LinkedIn by reviewing candidates in any given field. Too, many organizations post job leads on LinkedIn before they post on their own organization’s website.

How the heck do I get 500+ connections?

Every year at least one person asks this question and says … “I don’t know 500 people”. Yes, you do. You’ll find by joining groups on LinkedIn that you can connect easily with people who belong to the LinkedIn groups that you belong to and that you’re interested in joining. Connect with friends, family, schoolmates, teachers, professors, people you grew up with, people from your schools, etc. You will get there. It doesn’t even take that much time.

Isn’t quality better than quantity?

When it comes to LinkedIn, it is good to have both quality and quantity. No, I don’t want you to connect with strangers. Just take a little time to explore all of your different circles you know. You’ll surprise yourself by really digging through names of people you do know and connecting with them. LinkedIn has over 500 million users. Why not be part of the big world out there?

Any parting words for me?

Trust me on this one … you may not enjoy it now, but you will enjoy being part of the LinkedIn community. No, LinkedIn doesn’t pay me a penny to say that, but I have been a LinkedIn devotee from day one, and when I was invited to be a “LinkedIn Advisor”, I gladly accepted because I want to be a part of a group who continues to connect like-minded people and to see that people can find other people who can help them with their career goals and job search needs.

Good luck to you! You can connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know in a message how you might know me. Example: ”I’m coming to D.C. and I’m joining GSPM”. Hope so!

***Every year, at least one new student works in the Intelligence Community. If someone’s job prevents them from using social media, the student needs to discuss that privately with us. Or, if you’ve been stalked or something like that, we certainly wouldn’t force the use of social media. We aren’t completely inflexible.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/

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