Try it as template <class E> typename LinkedList<E>::node * LinkedList<E>::getNode(const E &item) since I believe the situation is equivalent (or at least parallel to) this thread.
i'm sorry but i don't understand what you mean by
No, not a problem at all. I just meant that classically people put declarations, defines, etc. in the header file and leave the implementation to a separate .cpp file whereas with templates all of that (declarations, definitions, etc) together has to get lumped in the same .h file with almost all compilers.