- I think it is perfectly acceptable to connect with prospective companies via LinkedIn, that is what it is out there for, and a great way for you to build your network.
I do not find it presumptuous at all. In fact, I appreciate the extra effort put into reaching out directly.
Since its main purpose is for networking, I highly recommend joining groups where you can also see job listings and reach out to others in the group to inquire about jobs.
I would say it is imperative to not just have a presence, but also to have a presence that actually puts your best foot forward. Whether you have a profile and the quality of the profile says a lot about your level of professionalism to a potential interviewer.
[I]f you are making a cold connection, meaning you have no previous knowledge of this individual, a networking letter is a great way to introduce yourself and what you are looking for to a recruiter and/or potential employer.
I see no problem contacting HR regarding opportunities. LinkedIn, email or phone is just fine.
Before you reach out to a recruiter on LinkedIn, read their profile since many will offer guidance on the types of inquiries they prefer to receive.
In the past, I have had outstanding candidates identify me on LinkedIn as an employee of ManpowerGroup, and ask excellent questions about our company and our application process. I’ve then been able to route them to the appropriate recruiter or departmental contact, and it was a very professional exchange.
Keeping your profile up-to-date is very important. You may lose out on an amazing opportunity because your profile isn’t reflecting most current positions/accomplishments.
An exchange on LinkedIn is likely to result in a phone call if your experience aligns with the organization.
As with any professional career connection, if you connect directly with recruiters, have a message in mind - i.e. how can you fit with the recruiter's/company's needs and job opportunities; where do your skills and interest match with the company's needs.
Start with an introduction explaining how you came to find them and why you are reaching out.
Follow-up is also key. It may take a few tries before you connect so keep trying without crossing the line.
[Y]ou should especially check out the Careers Section on each LinkedIn page, and see if they offer any information regarding open positions, their application process, and possibly specific recruiter or HR contact info.
I would caution how high up in the organization to reach. Try to find out who oversees recruiting specifically.