LinkedIn. It’s the Facebook of the business world, and it’s the fastest growing hub for students and recent graduates to meet real professionals and get real opportunities. There are over 332 LinkedIn users worldwide and all of the CEO’s of the Fortune 500 Companies have a profile. It’s essential for any developing professional.
So where do I sign up?
Answering that question was Kathryn Szumanski, who gave a stellar presentation on LinkedIn on December 4th. As Associate Director for Experiential Education at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Ms. Szumanski has been around LinkedIn more than a few times and is experienced in helping out students with making and improving their profiles. Here’s some of her best tips:
Add “Warm” Contacts
Even though connecting with people is the goal of any LinkedIn user, it’s always helpful to have some sort of a connection. Even if it’s an alumni of your current school, it’s good to have a personal anecdote to put into your invitation.
As first-year college students, most of us haven’t been in professional settings enough to learn the smaller details of etiquette. However, with LinkedIn, users are in a virtual meeting room of executives every time they log on. It’s a great way for students to absorb and develop their own professional style.
Build a Professional Online Presence
“It’s no longer enough to simply have a solid resume. Students now need a professional online presence.” So says Holly Paul, recruiter for PWC. An online account is a great way for recruiters to see what their applicants are like before they even pick up the phone. A professional online presence is the gateway to interviews and opportunities.
Just like the “special skills section” of a resume, sections in LinkedIn tell viewers what you do when you’re not working, such as volunteering. Sections are a great way to introduce yourself on a personal level, like a professional Facebook profile. Never be just one layer.
Getting people to recommend you is one of the most useful features of LinkedIn. Recommendations can tell potential employers that you have a work ethic worth talking about. Getting people to recommend you is a sign of trust, and their recommendations are a sign of their appreciation for what you’ve done for them.
Make it Personal
The most important part of connecting with people over LinkedIn is to make it personal, from invitations to recommendations. Think of LinkedIn interactions as if they were in real life. If you shake someone’s hand in real life, the best kind of handshake is the one where the other person makes you feel valued from the moment the handshake starts.
In conclusion, it’s time to get a LinkedIn profile. It’s an essential tool in any professional’s arsenal, and it’s a great gateway to get opportunities and connections for not only today, but the future. Here’s the Link. It’s time to get In.