Updated: Aug 27, 2019
I’m at the age in life where I know many college kids. Not because I’m that cool or hip, but because my children, their friends, and family members, etc. are of college age. I encourage them to become active in LinkedIn. I often hear reasons as to why they do not think LinkedIn is the right move for them. If this is you, you may have thought some of the following:
-None of my friends use LinkedIn
-I have no experience to share with others
-People my age don’t network
Honestly, in my college years, I probably felt the same way. But as a wise, seasoned adult, I know that these statements couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m gonna take you through a conversation I had with a junior in college. To be real, all of those objections came straight from him! He’s in the middle of his first internship. He’s doing a great job and learning impressive skills. They have even offered him employment after the school year begins, agreeing to work around his schedule. The problem is, he doesn’t love what he’s doing. While the position is in his field, the industry isn’t really in his wheelhouse. So, he has been looking at alternatives and even beginning to think about an internship after the next school year. (He’s on a 4 ½ year college plan!) I told him that he needed to be on LinkedIn. He gave all of these excuses. Every single one. I had to prove him wrong, because, like I said, I’m wise and seasoned.
Myth #1 BUSTED: First we researched his friends. We found that 7 of his closest 10 friends and coworkers, his age, were, in fact on LinkedIn.
Myth #2 BUSTED: This young man had worked in restaurants, retail and in an office. He had plenty of experience to boast about. He had held jobs with responsibilities, held volunteer positions and had learned many skills in both. He managed to work, be involved in school, work and still graduate with a 3.4 gpa. There are skills from the experiences he had from 14 years old until now that we can promote.
Myth #3 BUSTED: 29% of the 575,000,000 LinkedIn users are UNDER 29. (https://sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/#LinkedIn)
So, with the myths busted, he agreed that perhaps he needed to get started with LinkedIn. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a clue how to begin. Fortunately, for him, I was willing to share these 5 steps that got him started on LinkedIn. Can you imagine getting noticed by the hiring manager at your dream job, just because you were active on this platform? It happens all the time. When I worked in education, it was not uncommon for me to receive offers for interviews from the superintendents of other districts.
Step One: Join LinkedIn. Done. Okay that one is too easy. Once you join, upload a professional photo. Don’t upload a picture of you from a fraternity event wearing board shorts and body surfing through the crowd. Wrong platform. If you don’t have a professional photo, it’s pretty easy these days to get one. Have a friend shoot a picture of you against a wall. Wear professional clothes, it doesn’t have to be a suit, but don’t wear a t-shirt or shorts. The picture should be clear and be a headshot, not a full body picture.
Step Two: Create a dynamic and intriguing “About” section in your profile. Do not restate your resume. This is one part that is critical. Include details about what you’ve done, but don’t just give facts. Your “about” section will help you stand out. It must be well done. Seek out support on this section if necessary. I write dynamic profiles for a living, I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of “about” sections. So many would not make me even take a second look at the person. This is your chance to shine. Take advantage of this opportunity to talk about yourself, what you want and why the person reading it should connect with you.
Step Three: Complete the remaining parts of your profile including work experience. Upload all of your work experiences. Once you get your first professional job, you won’t list your part time job at the burger joint down the street, but for now, list it. List all of your skills. It helps to write what you did out on paper and then group like skills to form descriptions of what you did. Point out the skills that are pertinent to any job. Skills such as: Customer service, mentoring new employees, providing training to new staff, cash management, etc. You get the point. If you are in an internship, like my friend, list that. It shows initiative, drive and a desire to learn.
Step Four: Connect with anyone you have ever worked with. LinkedIn is a unique platform in that you can only connect with your first connections and with their connections. Beyond that, you need to upgrade your membership. But don’t worry, when you think about family, friends and coworkers, old and new, and then all of their connections, you have a pretty vast network off the bat. Look for people connected to your connections that are in your field/industry. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people. You are not “friends” on LinkedIn, you are “connections”.
Step Five: Join groups. If you enter your interests in the search bar, click enter and then click more, you will see an option for groups, click there. You will see a list of groups that pertain to the interest you entered. Find some groups that speak to you and join them. By joining groups, you show that you are interested in your industry and are driving your professional goals. Once you’ve joined groups, engage in them. Post articles, comment on other’s posts and reply to any responses. When you are consistent in doing this, people begin to see your name, wonder who you are and will want to connect with you.
Consider LinkedIn as the Facebook of the professional world. Snapchat may be fun, but you're not going to meet your next boss on that app. Spend time here each day. Connect, share, interact and learn. It’s a great way to meet people and move your career forward.
Much luck to you as you begin your professional career!