Lehigh Connects vs LinkedIn
Updated: Feb 27, 2020
Lehigh has established communities on Lehigh Connects and LinkedIn. What are the advantages of each platform and how should you be leveraging these networks during your job or internship search?
If you are new networking, take a minute to explore the two platforms discussed in this post.
Lehigh Connects is a community of over 3,000 Lehigh University alumni (which continues to grow each month!). Alumni participants here have signed up to support students (and fellow alumni) with career exploration and career prep and you can communicate in 3 ways with just one click. Join the community using your Lehigh single sign on and set up your profile in only a few minutes. A customized user experience allows you to easily and quickly identify and communicate with alum who will help you learn about career options and prepare for life after graduation through flash mentoring (messages and meetings) or a long-term mentor.
LinkedIn is a social network that focuses on professional networking and career development. There you can explore the Lehigh University alumni page, that includes about 58,000 profiles. Setting up your profile requires several steps which include sharing details about your education, experience and skills in addition to a professional headshot. Unlimited profile space allows you to expand on professional skills and experience descriptions that may not fit on your one page resume. You can also link to websites or attach media to your profile. Your access to LinkedIn will increase as you grow the number of your connections and complete profile sections. Communication and all connection requests must be accepted.
Lehigh Connects provides immediate access to communication tools (no approval step) with anyone on the platform. By far, the most popular communication option is the messaging tool. This tool allows you to send messages to anyone on the platform and provides content feedback to help you draft a message.
I recently declared Sociology as my major and I am exploring some of the career options that connect to my degree including careers in the non-profit industry. I was drawn to the philanthropy you mentioned on your profile on Lehigh Connects. Can you tell me more about the first internships or jobs you had and how you got established in the industry? What drew you to working in the nonprofit world? What skills do you use every day? How much of your day do you work independently vs collaborating with a team? What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?
Thank you for any insight or advice you can provide. I would love to learn more about your role through job shadowing if there is day this summer I could spend with you.
You can also request a meeting (phone or in person) with anyone on the platform. This communication option has you select a meeting topic and suggest 2 meeting dates/times along with a message to the alumni.
Example meeting request message:
I am an Earth and Environmental studies student preparing to graduate this May. Ideally, I would love to pursue full-time positions related to conservation. I found your profile on Lehigh Connects interesting because I imagine most of your day does not happen behind a desk. What advice do you have for me if I wanted to begin a career that is similar to yours? Could you help me identify entry level job titles that I should look for on the job boards? Do you have recommendations of companies in the Lehigh Valley or Philadelphia area that I could apply to?
Thank you for any insight or advice you can provide. I would love to meet to discuss your advice and put your suggestions to use right away as I continue my job search. Do you have time to meet for 30 minutes this week or next? I am happy to meet at your office or for coffee nearby. Let me know if you have time to chat and what times work best for you.
The community questions tab also lets you post to the entire community for information, rather than choosing one person to privately message.
Sample community question posts:
I am looking for an alum with experience in a startup. Anyone available to answer some questions and better help me understand the pros and cons of this career path?
Has anyone recently completed a digital interview using zoom? I am looking for some tips on the best ways to prepare and deliver knowing it will be little different than an in person interview.
I recently received a job offer that requires a relocation. Can you provide advice on how best I could estimate my move costs and how to factor that into the job offer evaluation? What tips can you share to request a relocation stipend as part of my offer negotiation?
LinkedIn allows you to include an optional note (limited to 300 characters) when you send a connection request. This is the best way to introduce yourself to someone on the platform and hopefully encourage a connection approval. We strongly suggest you don’t directly ask for a job, but instead ask for advice and information that can be helpful for your job search.
Example 300 character notes:
Hello, __________. I am a junior studying psychology at Lehigh and I would love to learn more about how you are using your degree as a (job title). Would you be able to share details about your work and career at (company name)? Thank you.
Hello from Lehigh University. I am reaching out because we both studied computer science and I would love your advice before I begin my job search. Could I ask you a few questions about your position and company to see if similar roles would be a good fit for me? Thank you.
A network is only helpful when the participants interact. One of the advantages to Lehigh Connects is that alumni participants signed up specifically to network with other Lehigh students and alumni. That means they are expecting your messages and often eager to assist you with career questions and requests. Students are encouraged to learn about networking by practicing here, no expertise required. You also have the added advantage to sending a follow up message if the alum doesn’t reply within a few business days.
Example follow up message:
Dear (Alumni name),
I am sending a friendly follow up from the message I sent on (date). I am still very interested in speaking with you about (add topic). You are welcome to respond via the message tool on Lehigh Connects but if it would be easier to set up a phone call or meet for coffee, I am happy to arrange that as well. Typically, my class schedule has breaks on Mondays and Wednesdays between 10 am - noon or Thursdays 3:00 pm -6:00 pm. Do you have 30 minutes available this week or next to talk?
On the other hand, LinkedIn participants simply joined a professional networking site and individuals there may not be interested in assisting or mentoring students. It’s often been found that many LinkedIn participants who are not currently job searching aren’t checking the site regularly or may not have notifications set up. We estimate only 30-40% of connection requests or messages received a response. An additional limitation, all connections must be approved before you can communicate. If you receive no response, you are not able to follow up on your request and you are unaware if they didn’t see your request or rejected your connection. (Note: if you are connected you can send unlimited messages).
Size of the network
LinkedIn boasts more than 260 million total users, with the Lehigh University alum profiles totaling more than 58,000. This by far provides more opportunities to connect with someone in a specific position, company, location or industry that aligns with your interests.
Lehigh Connects was launched in 2017 and will continue to grow as we market it to students and alumni. As of the Spring 2020, more than 3,000 alumni have active profiles and more than 2,000 students are active here each semester. On average, over 1,000 messages are sent every 30 days.
Both platforms have great filters that allow you to find a professional connection based on your interests. Lehigh Connects most popular filters include industry, academic major, location and help topic. Additionally, you can also use the key word search to find an alum of interest including searching from Lehigh involvement such as a sports team, Greek life affiliation, clubs, campus organizations or other key words related to job titles or company names. Specialty filters also include filtering by 1st generation student status, degree type, graduation year and others.
LinkedIn also has filters for both exploring the Lehigh alumni profiles as well as other connections. You can apply filters to search by current or past company, industry, location, schools and others. On the alumni page, you can also use the key word search to find profiles of interest or sort by major, location, grad year and several others.
So, who does it best?
While the LinkedIn community is certainly the biggest, Lehigh Connects has the significant advantage of being built by alumni who want to help students. Its also worth noting, a LinkedIn profile link can be shared via your resume in a job/internship application, but Lehigh Connects is only open to Lehigh students and alumni. Both platforms have unique strengths and are worth exploring but perhaps the student feedback below will sway you to invest networking time on Lehigh Connects.
“[My mentor] was great. He was so helpful, he was easy to speak to and made this first interaction top notch.”
"[My mentor] is a really great mentor, we met up in New York City and I have learned a lot from him.”
"I really liked how we went into detail with every question I had for him and how he was so open to discussing anything. He even gave me some pointers on how to continue job searching."
"[My mentor] was extremely patient, honest and helpful. She gave me some great advice on entering a career in consulting. Additionally, she connected me to some of her contacts."
"[My mentor] was very talkative, informative, and helpful. He made my first time using Lehigh Connects a great one!"
"[My mentor} answered all my questions. I was glad to hear about her work experience and have her be reassuring that I will be able to find a job. She even offered to get me in touch with some higher up people."
“[My mentor] was extremely helpful, friendly and easy to talk to.”
"He was helpful in the sense that he was super honest, insightful, and motivating. He gave me a ton of reassurance and he was extremely humble when talking about his accomplishments that got him to where he is!"
“[My mentor] was very excited to allow a student to visit/call/job shadow him and I had a prolonged conversation with him through email.”