Everyone knows networking is important for career success. This week we'll review how to get started on the social networking site LinkedIn and make the most of the resources it provides.
What it is
LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows you to connect with business professionals, learn about career paths, conduct outreach, look for posted job opportunities, conduct career research and more. Every business student should have a presence on LinkedIn (here are 11 reasons why!).
How to get started
Go to www.linkedin.com to start creating your profile. Choose a photo for your profile that is a headshot of you alone (no half-cropped out friends!) and is at least somewhat professional-looking. Make your headline relevant to your career goals and/or indicate you are a current student at UW-Madison. Fill in the Experience and Organization sections using information from your resume. Include internships, part-time jobs, student orgs, volunteer experience, or any other activities that have provided you with opportunities to build your transferrable skills.
Here is a check list of steps to build a great profile. LinkedIn also has an article about profile sections specifically designed for college students.
Privacy settings and public profile
One reason LinkedIn is useful is because it gives you a professional presence on the web. Be sure to go to your Account Settings (upper right corner) and click on "Edit Your Public Profile" to indicate which information you would like publicly available. You can also customize your profile URL on this page, which is recommended for easy sharing. Check out these other essential privacy settings you should know.
Connecting and interacting
Once you have your profile set up, it's time to start connecting. LinkedIn advises users to only connect with people you know. When you request to connect with someone, you have the opportunity to customize the message you send, instead of sending the default message provided by LinkedIn. You should ALWAYS customize your messages in connection requests.
For more on connecting, read these tips on networking professionally provided by LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has several tabs on their top navigation menu that are incredibly useful resources. Search the LinkedIn Groups to find those relevant to your industry or interests. This is a great way to stay informed on current events and to identify other professionals with a shared interest with whom you might want to connect. Check out the "Jobs" section to find internship and full-time opportunities. The "Companies" section allows you to see who in your network works or has worked for a particular company and may provide some helpful information when conducting employer research.
More LinkedIn resources
LinkedIn has a "Learning Center" that has a Student User Guide. This guide, specifically tailored to college students, is helpful if you are just getting started or want to learn how to really maximize the power of LinkedIn.
The BCC also has LinkedIn video tutorials available via the BuckyNet homepage. Log-in to BuckyNet and click on the "LinkedIn How to Guide" link. Learn exactly how to create the perfect LinkedIn profile along with some great tips on how to use LinkedIn most successfully!
Some articles from the web:
Why College Students Should Join LinkedIn
Common LinkedIn Mistakes Among College Students (and how to avoid them!)
I'm on LinkedIn Now What?
BCC advisors are happy to help you with LinkedIn and all your networking questions! Stop in the BCC and schedule an appointment if you want to learn more. Then use the Thanksgiving break to get started on your profile and networking goals!
Check out Bucky's Career Corner next time, when we'll review some time management tips and tricks! To wrap up the semester, we'll review some networking tips you can use during winter break.