23 Sep Making The Most Of LinkedIn As A Student
LinkedIn is the perfect place to network with past, current and prospective connections and an ideal opportunity to build your personal brand.
But LinkedIn isn’t just your average corporate networking site, it can be the perfect place for students to build their profile and get ahead of the curve prior to graduating, like all application processes, it’s important to stand out and this could be the perfect starting block.
Start Building Your Profile Now
You don’t need umpteen jobs, awards and publications to build up a LinkedIn profile, we all have to start somewhere.
Start with a “safe-for-work” profile picture, not one out with your mates at Fresher’s Week hammering a jaeger-train, and if you don’t have one, get a friend to take a shoulders-up photo against a plain background and give it a once over in Snapseed or similar editing app, just don’t overdo it, this isn’t Tinder!
Your “Headline”, where most people have their current job title, allows you to describe yourself in 72 characters (you can go over, but it’ll be truncated), so think about what you want your prospective network to know about you. Looking for a career in marketing? “Marketing w/ Management @ Bath – Aspiring Retail Marketing Professional”. Keep it to a maximum of 72 characters, tell people where you are and where you want to be.
Next up is your “About” section, this is where you can expand a bit more about you and what makes you tick. But keep it interesting and don’t waffle, again think about what your prospective network is going to look like and keep it relevant.
Your “Work” section is going to be a bit thin on the ground at the moment, but don’t stuff it with all of your Saturday jobs since you were 14 just for the sake of content, if you don’t have much relevant work experience it’s best to just leave it out. But, if you have prior experience that you believe will bolster your profile and your aims, then have at it, you can always take bits out as your career progresses and your experience builds up.
The following sections are where you can really make the most of your profile; Education, Skills, Accomplishments – describe your course in a brief sentence or two and then add any particulars as bullet points; achievements, grades, projects etc.
In summary, keep your goals in mind, keep your profile relevant and don’t waffle for the sake of it, having gaps in your profile is better than filling it with facts that nobody cares about, those bits will fill in time.
Build A Solid Network
Now that you have a perfectly-polished profile, it’s time to start networking! For a start, let’s fill your newsfeed with industry-leading content, find thought-leaders in your chosen industry and “follow” them. No need to add them as a connection, as most will probably reject at this stage, you just need to follow them so that you can keep up-to-date with the latest industry trends.
For adding connections, connect Linkedin with your email and see who comes up in your suggested connections, but stick to quality over quantity, this isn’t a popularity contest. Much like Facebook, going around adding every man and his dog won’t bring you much success, stick to people you know and slowly build up your network over time, you want to keep your network’s attention and build your reach and if you have a massive network of people who don’t know or care about you, they’re not going to interact with you and, as a result, you won’t get your name out there.
Generate Meaningful Content
Crunch time. So, you have your profile, your peers and hopefully a good list of industry-leaders that you’re following. The latter is where you can get your initial content from and if you find something that resonates with you, join in on the conversation and add your professional two cents or, share the content with your network and put your spin on things, for example, “A great look at how removing # of likes on Instagram and its benefits for mental health. Looking forward to this being rolled out in more countries and across more social media platforms”.
All of this is a great start that can build up your network organically and get you noticed, much like if you were to attend a physical networking event, standing in the corner and not joining in is a wasted opportunity. You don’t need to be the keynote speaker just yet, join in on conversations, contribute, offer your view and, of course, listen & learn.
But, when you are ready to start generating content and you have something worthwhile to talk about, LinkedIn’s article feature is great for longform content saving you the need to create your own website, or just using the standard status update functionality for short content. Keep it interesting, make it pop with pictures and always think about your audience, engage them, encourage them and educate them.
Starting out on LinkedIn and need some help? Drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll be happy to help!