Increasingly more college students are joining LinkedIn, and that’s a good thing. I only ask that they keep these ten tips in mind.
Dear College Students,
If I could offer you some advice, it would be this: take a serious look at an application called LinkedIn. I suggest this because your demographic is still unrepresented on this platform. Facebook? You are well represented on this social medium. Twitter seems to be on the rise with you, as well as with younger folks. Heck, even my teenage kids are on Twitter.
I sincerely believe that LinkedIn will help you in the future. And if you think about it, there’s no time better than now to prepare yourself for the future. Isn’t that what you’re being taught in school, prepare for the future? If it were up to me, LinkedIn would be a required course. Maybe it will become part of the curriculum, but probably not for a while. Until then here are some strong suggestions:
- Get on LinkedIn immediately. Don’t think immediate gratification and forget about accumulating tons of “friends” and “followers.” It’s about making connections. LinkedIn ain’t sexy.
- Make an immediate impact with your branding title. “Seeking Employment” or “College Student at X college” is not going to do it. At least “Finance Major at X College | Aspiring CFO | Captain of Lacrosse Team | Dorm Advisor” would foreshadow greatness.
- Perception is half the battle, which means you will be judged on your photo. You’ll want a photo that will elicit confidence from potential networkers and employers; not one of you taken at Arizona State during a fraternity initiation with beer bong in plain sight.
- Some college-age profiles I’ve seen fail to tell a compelling story in the Summary section; rather they talk about enjoying their socialization process before going “Big Time,” not their aspirations of learning lean procedures or their philosophy of management.
- It’s hard to support a work history when students haven’t interned at Ernst and Young or Raytheon, but even working summers for the DPW demonstrates the hard work of toiling under the oppressive sun, removing roadkill from the road, and installing sewage pipes. Bottom line, show some type of work history in your Employment section.
- There’s no rule stating that you need to stick to the default setting of the profile sections. You might want to move the Education section to the top, below the Summary. There you can highlight Activities and Societies and Additional notes.
- This goes without saying; the world will be unforgiving of sloppiness. I recently saw a profile from a grad student who had approximately 10 spelling errors or typos in his Summary. I brought this to his attention and haven’t heard from him since. Oh well.
- Your LinkedIn profile now complete, it’s time to connect with quality people. Friends are nice, as are family members, but think future. Alumni, college professors (if they will), people who are currently working in your desired industry/ies, career professionals like me, etc. Check out the Find Alumni feature.
- Create a presence. I know many college students who are blogging on their topic of study and, hence, their future occupations. If you have great PowerPoint, Prezi, or YouTube presentations, post them on your Profile. Remember that it’s all about professionalism.
- This is my last bit of advice: be professional in everything you do with LinkedIn. No one on this application wants to know about your partying habits or fashion statements or see your photos of Spring Break. Sorry, it’s not about that.
My oldest daughter is off to college next year, so I hope she heeds my advice. Pinterest is fine, I tell her, communicating on Twitter is even better, but it’s LinkedIn that will help her network online. I haven’t seen LinkedIn offered as a core course at her school, but maybe I’ll make a strong suggestion.
Now read the follow-up to this article.
Photo: Flickr, Spanish Virtually