Tag Archives: online networking

6 Steps to take when using LinkedIn to network for a job

You’ve heard it before: LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional, online networking application with approximately 470 million worldwide members. It’s also said that LinkedIn is growing at a rapid rate of two people per second. And according to Jobvite.com, at least 87 percent of recruiters are sourcing for talent on LinkedIn.

Woman using computer

Here’s another fact that I can personally attest to: most recruiters with whom I’ve spoken tell me that LinkedIn is their site of choice when it comes to looking for talent. Not Facebook.com, Monster.com, Indeed.com, or SimplyHired.com.

Shouldn’t these facts be enough to use LinkedIn for you job search? Now, here’s the question: how can you most effectively use LinkedIn to network for a job?

1. LinkedIn is more than your online résumé

First of all, your LinkedIn profile is not simply your resume. This said, I suggest to my LinkedIn workshop that their first move is to copy and paste their résumé to their new LinkedIn profile.

From there, however, you need to add to it to make it more of a networking document that expresses your value, while also showing your personality. For example, your Summary must tell a story describing your passion for what you do, how you do what you do, and throw in some accomplishments to immediately sell yourself.

Your Experience section must include accomplishment statements with quantified results that include numbers, dollars, and percentages. I prefer each job to comprise only of accomplishments, while other LinkedIn members throw everything into the mix,

Also important is that your LinkedIn profile is optimized for keyword searches by recruiters and hiring managers. They’re looking for a specific title, vital areas of expertise, and location. For example: “sales operations” AND crm “lead generation” AND pharmaceutical AND “greater boston area”. 

Read how to create a powerful profile with the new LinkedIn.

2. Use LinkedIn to network with people at your desired companies

Perhaps one of LinkedIn’s greatest strengths is the ability to locate the key players at the companies for which you’d like to work. My suggestion is that first you create a list of your target companies and from there connect with people on your level in those companies.

There are ways to go about getting noticed by the people with whom you’d like to connect:

  1.  You may want to first follow said people
  2. When you visit their profile, show your profile (don’t choose anonymous)
  3. Like or comment on their posts
  4. Wait to see if they reach out to you first
  5. Finally, ask to connect with them using a personalized message, not the default LinkedIn one

Read this popular post on the proper way to connect.

Once you’ve built your foundation, you can ask for introductions to the individuals who would be making the hiring decisions. You don’t want to do this immediately, because hiring managers will be less likely to connect with you without an introduction.

3. Make use of your new connections

When jobs become available at your target companies, you’re in a better place than if you were applying cold. You can reach out to the people you’ve connected with to have your résumé  delivered to the proper decision makers (in addition to applying on line).

Ideally you will build strong relationships with the connections at your target companies, so when companies are trying to fill positions internally, your connections will give you a heads-up. You’ll have an inside track, essentially penetrating the Hidden Job Market.

According to an article in Jobvite on what job seekers need to know in 2017: “Referred applicants are 5 times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.”

4. Use the Jobs feature to network

Using LinkedIn’s Jobs feature to apply for jobs exclusively is not your best way to land a job because, after all, it’s a job board. (A very low percentage of job seekers are successful using job boards.) But I wouldn’t discount LinkedIn Jobs. Use it in conjunction with your networking efforts.

In many cases the person who posted the position is revealed, providing you with the option of contacting said person. You can also “meet the team,” whom you might want to reach out to. Perhaps my favorite feature of Jobs is the ability to see which of your alumni work at the companies of interest.

5. Alumni feature

Alumni might be the most underutilized feature on LinkedIn. In fact, many of my LinkedIn workshop attendees are unaware of this great feature and are amazed when I demonstrate this feature.

I show them how they can find alumni who studied certain majors, where they live, and where they work. I also explain that their alumni are more likely to connect with them than other people they don’t know.

If you see that some of your alumni work at a desired company, take the bold move of connecting with them. Your personal invite will start with , “Hi William, I see we attended Amherst College together….This alone will give you something in common.

Read more about the Alumni feature.

6. Take it a step further

A LinkedIn connection is not bona fide unless you reach out in a personal manner, such as a phone call, meeting for coffee, or even grabbing lunch. A phone call should be the very least you do in your effort to make a personal connection.

Talking to your connections give them a better sense of who you are. I’ve talked with some of my connections and was able to judge their character. For some I got the sense they were of quality character; for others I felt the opposite.

The final step. You’ve spoken with your connections and have gain their trust. Now you’re ready to ask them to go to bat for you. You will say, “I feel that you’ve gotten a good idea of who I am as a person. If you would mention me to your manager, I would greatly appreciate it. If you feel uncomfortable, I completely understand. I leave this up to you.”


Using LinkedIn alone will not quickly secure a job without also reaching out in a personal manner. This is the final step, and for some the hardest one to take. LinkedIn offers a lot of potential. Use it to its advantage, and then close the deal.

This post originally appeared on recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, JobMax

8 reasons why LinkedIn probably isn’t for you

For a long time I’ve considered it my mission to recruit people to join LinkedIn, like a college recruiter goes after blue chip basketball players. But after having a discussion a few days ago with someone in my workshop, it finally dawned on me that my persuasive style of exciting people to join LinkedIn might be too strong for some people.

Curious

After the workshop, where I spoke about LinkedIn like it’s the solution to finding a job, a very nice woman approached me and said she just wasn’t ready. She cited many reasons for this, including not understanding a word I said (not my fault, she said), not sure if she can master the mechanics of LinkedIn, being more of an oral communicator, etc.

As she spoke, nearly in tears, I remembered some of the statements I made, “To increase your chances of getting a job, you must be on LinkedIn.

Oh my gosh, I thought, as this woman was pouring out her soul to me, I created despair in this poor woman. It occurred to me that a few people like her are not ready to be on LinkedIn, never will be. Because I am active—to a fault—on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean everyone must be active or even a member.

I can’t tell people they must be on LinkedIn. In fact, in a moment of honesty, I have told my customers in other workshops that, “LinkedIn isn’t for everyone. If you’re not ready for LinkedIn, you will only be frustrated.” Perhaps I need to lay off the hard sell, because LinkedIn isn’t for everyone for the following reasons:

You’re afraid of being on the Internet

End the discussion right here. If you’re afraid of being on the Internet, concerned your personal identity will be violated, your financial information will be at risk; there’s no convincing you that you’re safe on LinkedIn. No one is completely safe.

As long as I’ve been on LinkedIn, I’ve known of one breach. It was minor, required me to change my password. LinkedIn even suggests you provide your telephone number for added security. Still, if you’re afraid of being on the Internet. This is a moot point.

You want to socialize with friends

Guess what I’m going to say. That’s right, take your socializing to Facebook. Earlier I said I had no time for Facebook and no interest. Well recently I joined Facebook, and I love it. Facebook is where I can post photos of a snowstorm in April. Proudly post photos of my family and bobbleheads.

Bobbleheads2

LinkedIn is no place for politics, religion, or women clad in bikinis. There have been many shared updates that were inappropriate for LinkedIn, and they continue to come. If you feel the need to post garbage like this, open Facebook or Twitter accounts.

You’re  satisfied with a poor profile

The one and done attitude just ain’t gonna cut it. It’s not enough to simply copy and paste your résumé to your profile and leave it at that. People who are content doing this will hurt themselves not only by displaying a poor profile that fails to brand them, but also reducing the number of keywords necessary to be found.

Your LinkedIn profile is a networking document; it is proactive. Your résumé is a document you send in response to an job posting. Your résumé is reactive.

You don’t want to connect with others

This is a show stopper. If you’re unwilling to connect with people you don’t know on LinkedIn, this is akin to going to a networking event and not speaking to a single soul. “Oh, but I connect to the people I know, like my former supervisor.

That’s a pretty limited list of connections. Very carefully chose quality connections. If you’re not embracing meeting and learning about new people on LinkedIn, you are wasting your time  For a better understanding of who you should connect with, read my article.

You’re not willing to put in the time

My advice to LinkedIn members is that they have to dedicate at least four days (4) a week to LinkedIn; and spend half an hour a day posting updates, commenting on updates, and, if willing, write LinkedIn long posts.

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Ideally one will spend an average of once a day a week. If you’re not willing to put in the time, your excellent profile and healthy number of connections will all be for naught. Many of my workshop attendees balk at this, but I tell them this is the time to who your grit.

You don’t understand its purpose

For those of you who are thinking, Bob, aren’t you being a little judgmental? Aren’t you being a little harsh? I don’t think I am. Too many people have opened accounts many years ago, simply to have never visited them until they need it…when they’re unemployed.

LinkedIn is a networking application for when you’re employed and unemployed. In other words, it was developed to help businesses create partnerships, developed soft leads, reach a broader channel. These are the people who are using it correctly.

Job seekers who use it only when they need a job are missing the boat. Their opportunity to network is when they’re networking. It’s a full-time endeavor until you retire, or until something better comes along. What more can be said.

You’re not embracing change

LinkedIn is going through constant change. It’s akin to keeping up with the plot of Game of Thrones. With the new user interface (UI), people are at their wits end understanding the new look and finding features which were once easily found.

If you take the time to play with LinkedIn’s UI, you’ll find it’s not too difficult to understand. LI’s goal was to streamline the platform, make it lighter and quicker to use. Yes, it as done away with features that were once on the basic plan. Yes, we now have to pay for advance search and tagging and unlimited searches, but so be it.

You must also download the LinkedIn phone app to better understand it. This will help you to better understand the new UI; as they are almost identical. Embrace change, people.

One more

Another reason I hear from people who resist LinkedIn is their lack of desire to be an exhibitionist. While I find this a bit silly, I also wonder if by exposing my thoughts and feelings, I’m a bit of an exhibitionist.

Perhaps the word, “exhibitionist” is a strong word, but I sometimes wonder why I spend so much time on LinkedIn. Why do I share updates so often? Why do I distribute my and others’ posts? Why do I read posts to gather information. Shall we call it networking?

Photo: Flickr, Murel Merivee

Photo: Flickr, Brenda Valmont

Default invites from LinkedIn members stink: 6 approaches to sending an invite

 

I estimate that I ignore 90% of invites from LinkedIn members, simply because they don’t include a personalized note. In fact, if I accepted all invites I’d probably have 10,000 connections in my LinkedIn network. This is not to brag; I’m just saying.

li-logoWhy am I so adamant about people taking the time to personalize their invites? Short and simple, default invites stink.

The default invite on LinkedIn is: I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn*. While it clearly states a hopeful networker’s intent, I need more. Something that tells me why we should connect.

Sending the default invite is akin to going up to someone at a networking event and saying, “Hi. What can you do for me?” It’s insincere and sends the message, “I’m inviting you to be in my network, but I could care less if you join.” Is this the type of message you want to send to a potential networker?

I believe there are three reasons why LinkedIn members don’t personalize their invites.

One, they just don’t get it. Or they haven’t been educated. I can only spread the word to the people who attend my LinkedIn workshops or read my posts. Even then they don’t get it. Some workshop attendees will invite me from their phones while I’m leading the workshop…void of a personalized note.

Two, they’re using their phone to connect with others on LinkedIn. Although there is a way to send a personalized invite from your phone, most people don’t know how to do it. The process is very simple**, so there’s no excuse.

To the people who invite me to their network from their phone, I tell them to wait until they’re at a computer so they can send a personalized note. What’s the hurry? I’m not going away.

lazy

Three, they’re plain lazy. I think this is really the heart of the matter, and I hesitate to say it, especially out loud; but in essence this is what it comes down to. To me, a default invitation is a statement of want without a sign of reciprocation. And this defies the true definition of networking.

I and others, I’m sure, are more likely to accept an invite if a thoughtful note is attached to it. So what should you write if you want someone to join your network?

1. You might have something in common with whom you’re trying to connect. “Hi Susan, I’ve been following your updates and feel that we have a great deal in common. Would you accept an invitation to be in my LinkedIn network?”

2. Maybe you’re the bold type. “Hey, Bob. You and I are in career development. Ain’t that cool? Let’s link up!” I like this confidence.

3. You might want to take the calculated approach. “After reviewing your profile, I’m impressed with its quality and your diverse interests.” A little flattery never hurts.

4. Do you need assistance? I received an invite with the following message: “Please have a look at my profile and tell me what you think. I’ve been on LinkedIn since before it was, well, LinkedIn!” I looked at his profile and was impressed. I gladly accepted his invite.

5. Inviting someone to be part of your LinkedIn network is a perfect way to follow up with that person after a face-to-face meeting. “Sam, it was great meeting with you at the Friends of Kevin networking event. I looked you up on LinkedIn and thought we could stay in touch.”

6. Boost the person’s ego. “Bob, I read one of your posts and thought it was spot on. I’d like to connect with you.” Or “Jason, I saw you speak at the Tsongas Arena and what you said really resonated with me. I’d like to follow up with you.”

These are some suggestions that would entice someone like myself to accept an invite. When I’m sent an invite, I only request a personalized note—it’s not that hard, really. So rather than just hitting the Send Invitation button, take a few seconds to compose something from the heart.


*A very simple solution is eliminating the default message altogether, thereby requiring someone to write a personalized note. LinkedIn suggests, “Include a personal note,” but this doesn’t seem to work for some.

**To send an invite from your phone, go to the profile, click the three vertical dots for androids or horizontal dots for iPhones, choose “Personalize invite,” write one and hit send.

Photo: Flickr, ruijiaoli

Photo: Flickr, Retroeric

 

5 successful ways to be proactive in your job search

looking

Some job seekers tell me they turn on their computer every day to log on to Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and other job boards. They spend many hours a day applying for posted jobs, sending as many as 20 cookie-cutter résumés out a week, anticipating a call from a recruiter or Human Resources.

And they wait.

To these job seekers I point out the futility of a job search like this, explaining that if they want faster results, they have to be more proactive. I tell them this in my Career Networking workshop.

First I talk about the Hidden Job Market (HJM) which is a concept they understand, but I’m not sure they accept. When I tell them connecting with others is the best approach to penetrating the HJM, I can hear them thinking how difficult it will be to get outside their comfort zone, to get away from their computer.

The message I deliver is that they have to be proactive, not reactive. They have to take control of their job search, not let it control them. Here are five ways you can be proactive in your job search:

Approach letters. These documents are sent to companies of interest. Here’s the kicker: no job has been advertised. (Advertised jobs represent only 20%-30% of the labor market.) You’re not reacting to an advertisement; rather you’re sending them unannounced.

Approach Letters are ideal if you prefer writing more than using the phone. Introverts may favor this way of contacting an employer. Whereas, extraverts may prefer simply picking up the phone.

The goal is to get networking meeting or better yet, chance upon a possible opening that hasn’t been advertised. You must describe your job-related skills and experience and show the employer that you’ve done research on the company to boost the employer’s ego.

Good ole’ fashion networking. Normally we think of networking as strictly attending organized meetings where other job seekers go, doing their best not to seem desperate. (I’ll admit that this type of networking is unsettling, although necessary.)

The kind of networking I’m referring to is the kind that involves reaching out to anyone who knows a hiring manager.

Most of the people who contact me after they’ve secured a job tell me that their success was due to knowing someone at the company or organization. You must network wherever you go.

Network at your kid’s or grandchildren’s basketball games, at the salon, while taking workshops, at family gatherings (see Any Time is Time to Network)—basically everywhere.

Volunteering as a way to find work. This method of being proactive works. Granted it is tough to work for free, volunteering offers great benefits. The first of which is it’s a great way to network. Think about it; you’re in a great environment to discover opportunities from the people with whom you’re volunteering.

Let’s say you’re volunteering with an organization that deals with vendors, partners, and customers. They’re all great people to gather advice and information. You are ALWAYS keeping your eyes open for opportunities.

Another benefit of volunteering is enhancing the skills you have, or learning new ones, to be more marketable. If you lack certain software, such as PeopleSoft, seek organizations that use this software or would like to implement it. Who knows; you may prove to be so valuable that you develop a role in their finance department.

Finally, volunteering is a great source of fodder for you résumé. I tell my clients that if their volunteer experience is extensive, they should include it on this document. Just write “Volunteer Experiend” in parenthesis. 

LinkedIn and other social media outlets. I recently received an In-mail from someone who is currently working but is not enjoying her experience. I’ll keep my ears open for the type of position she’s looking for because she asked me to.

LinkedIn members who know the potential of this  professional online networking tool  reach out to other LI members for information and contact leads. Practice proper etiquette when reaching out to your connections. In other words, don’t request an introduction to someone the very first time you communicate with a new connection.

Another one of my job seekers is doing everything possible to conduct a proper proactive job search. He updates me on his job search and sends me job leads for me to post on our career center’s LinkedIn group. I’ve got a good feeling about this guy. He’s being very proactive by using LinkedIn and his vast personal network of professionals.

Follow Up. Allow me to suggest a must-read book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I think this guy gets more publicity from me than any author I’ve read. The reason I recommend this book is because none of these three proactive approaches are useful unless you follow up on your efforts.

Never Eat Alone teaches you how to network in every situation and then how to keep your network alive by following up with everyone. I mean everyone. Send an approach letter, then follow up with the people to whom you’ve sent it. Network face-to-face, then follow up. Connect with someone on LinkedIn…you guessed it, then follow up.

Of course you need to follow up after an interview. Many employers complain that candidates don’t send a follow-up note, and some candidates are eliminated because of this. So take the time to write a brief follow-up note. It’s well worth the time.


Being proactive sure beats the hell out of only reacting to jobs that have been advertised and visible to hundreds, if not thousands of other job seekers. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and yields more results than exclusively participating in the visible job market. Being proactive makes you believe that the job search will finally come to a halt, that the job search is in your hands.

Photo: Flickr, EasyBranches

Meeting 5 objections to joining LinkedIn

Excuse

I’ve been invited to speak at a networking event about LinkedIn, where many of the participants are nonbelievers of this great online networking application. My initial reaction when I was asked to speak to the naysayers is to tell them that LinkedIn isn’t for everyone, but that would be the easy way out.

Given that more than 95% of recruiters/hiring managers use LinkedIn to find talent, a job seeker would be nuts not to be on LinkedIn and using it aggressively to look for employment. And this is what I need to convey to a room of people, some of whom will be shaking their heads.

While it is true that some of the attendees maybe beyond help, below are some excuses I plan to meet head on.

I don’t have time to create a profile

This is a common complaint; however, the prospect of creating a profile should not break their will. Copy and paste their résumé to their profile and go from there.

In a post I wrote about the five ways, each, to brand yourself with your résumé and profile, I make the distinctions between the résumé and profile. Keep in mind that your profile is a networking document.

I won’t have time to Update once a week

Quite honestly, posting an update once a week is not that hard to do. It’s as simple as commenting on a topic, attaching an article, posting a great quote, letting people know what they’re up to, etc.

To illustrate this, I posted a couple of updates in my LinkedIn workshop, all within one minute. Read 11 reasons why I update so often on LinkedIn.

I don’t think people in my occupation use LinkedIn

This is a valued point. Some occupations, namely the trades, don’t use LinkedIn to network as much as others. This is a tough mindset to break, albeit a faulty one.

I’ll tell these fine folks attending the networking event to be ground breakers, and point out there was a time when career development was not a big player on LinkedIn. Now look at us.

There’s no way I can get 50 connections

Hogwash. LinkedIn allows users to download contacts from their e-mail account from the very beginning of registering for membership.

One just has to select the members they want to invite and soon acceptances and invites will come their way. Someone has to initiate contact; it might as well be them.

Note: I do not advise this way to make connections; got to their profiles and send a personalized invite after selecting connect.

I’m too young or too old

This is my favorite excuse to squash like a fly. When you’re young is the best time to start on LinkedIn. LinkedIn will most likely not offer you immediate gratification, but your initial investment will lead to a  lifelong pursuit of networking.

As far as you older attendees, I didn’t start using LinkedIn until I was in my mid-forties, and in a short period of time I’ve become well versed in the online application. Today’s forties is yesterday’s thirties.

There are some excuses that will be are hard to counter, such as:

1) I’m just curious; someone told me I’m guaranteed to get a job using LinkedIn.
2) I’m computer illiterate.
3) I’m afraid of putting information about myself on the Internet.

No one can offer the solution to every excuse, but the five listed above will be a breeze to counter. If you have another excuse, or two, let me know. I’ll add it to the list.

As always, if you enjoyed this post, please share it.

12 egregious mistakes you don’t want to make with your LinkedIn profile

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I’ve reviewed many profiles as a workshop facilitator and LinkedIn trainer. Many profiles are well constructed, while others are not indicative of future success.

Is it easy to create a compelling profile that gets noticed in a positive way? Not for all LinkedIn users. It takes hard work  and commitment.

The mistakes I’ve seen on LinkedIn profiles range from a poorly done photo to typos and spelling mistakes. However, when I think about 12 egregious mistakes you don’t want to make, the following ones for jobseekers come to mind.

  1. Posting a poor photo. The advice to not post a poor photo hasn’t reached enough ears, as there are still those who have inappropriate photos. Think about what a photo of you skiing on the slopes of Killington says about your value as an employee? It says you’re a helluva skier but not much about your brand.
  2. Writing, “Unemployed” in the headline. Even, “Looking for next great opportunity” doesn’t say much about your talent and potential to help future employers. This is prime real estate for branding yourself and including some keywords. (As far as I know, not many employers consider seeking unemployment as a key selling point.)
  3. Bragging in your Summary statement that you’re the solution to every problem will get you nowhere, save for an immediate click on the back arrow. Though you may think bragging is acceptable because you’re supposed to “sell” yourself, it comes across as dishonest. Proof, such as quantified results, goes a lot further than words like, “outstanding,” “excellent,” “awesome”….
  4. Being dishonest. Forbes advises against lying and 9 other mistakes. Don’t be dishonest in your Employment section. Employers can smell a liar like a bloodhound can smell a man on the run. Don’t write that you achieved 100% customer satisfaction because it sounds good. A “near perfect” rating is more acceptable and easier to defend at an interview.
  5. Not elaborating on your experience and accomplishments. Some people will write a stunning Summary but only provide the bare minimum in their Experience section. This is a crime. Visitors, especially employers, want to know about your most relevant duties and accomplishments—the more quantified accomplishments the better. A poll was taken on LinkedIn awhile ago (but it’s still relevant) asking which section people thought was most important. Can you guess what the majority chose?
  6. Copying and pasting your résumé to your profile and leaving it at that. I advise those starting out to make this first step, but then you have to modify it to fit its purpose, which is a vehicle for networking. A professional photo and personal Summary that tells your story are a must for networking. A good thought to keep in mind is that your profile  is an extension of your résumé; employers aren’t expecting to see an exact copy of it.
  7. Neglecting LinkedIn’s tools which are meant to enhance your networking. Use the tools LinkedIn gives you, such as the Skills and Endorsements section, Additional Information, Publish a Post, Media capabilities, Certifications, and Awards are just a few of the tools that can give employers and networkers a sense of your accomplishments.
  8. Not letting people in your network know about significant changes. You should update your connections when you’ve made major changes, e.g., a career change, a new photo, etc. Of course your network doesn’t want to know when you added a comma to your Summary.
  9. Love it and leave it. Although your profile is fairly static—you don’t change it often—revisit it from time to time to make sure all the information is current. The other day I sat with a customer who told me he hadn’t touched his profile in over a year—didn’t even know his password.
  10. Failing to ask for and write Recommendations. Even though I think this feature is growing out of favor—due to the increase in the popularity of Endorsements—Recommendations are a great way to increase your branding by describing you as a great worker (receiving them) and as an authority (writing them).
  11. Not customizing your LinkedIn profile’s URL. This advice comes from Joseph Catrino, who wouldn’t appreciate me plagiarizing him, so I give him credit. Yes, often we see business cards, résumés, and other marketing documents with the default URL listed on them. This shows a lack of savvy; whereas the contrary shows awareness of LinkedIn.
  12. Neglecting to include keywords. To be found on LinkedIn, your profile must include the skills and areas of expertise employers are looking for. If you’re not sure which keywords to include, take a sample of six or so job descriptions and identify the common keywords for your occupation. Hint: use http://www.wordle.net to accumulate them into a word cloud.

Your profile is your online presence. Potential employers might judge you based on what you say and show on your profile. If they like what they see, your chances of success will be greater. If they don’t like what they see, it’s on to the next profile. So be sure not to make the six mistakes listed above.

Dear College Students, please read the following 10 LinkedIn tips

college students

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.