Social media can be overwhelming. From posting an Instagram photo that links to Facebook and Twitter, to hashtagging on Facebook, and re-vining your favorite hilarious vines, we are overloaded on connecting with our fellow peers. Take a break from all of this and consider your career and aspirations. It’s time to take your social media to the next level, and by next level, I mean a professional level. Forget your hashtags and retweets for a few minutes to think about what I have to say about LinkedIn. (If you’re a visual learner, check out this youtube video summarizing what I say below)
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is to the professional world what Facebook is to the social world. As the world’s largest professional networking site, LinkedIn boasts over 225 million members in more than 200 countries. It is a way to summarize your professional experience, interests, and skills in a profile to display to potential employers, networking contacts, or admission officers. Just as importantly, LinkedIn allows you to control your digital footprint and build a strong, professional web presence.
The Value of LinkedIn
Why use it? LinkedIn is a great way to build your professional network connected to people in your field. Once you connect, your network is broadened and your chances of meeting someone hiring in your field increases. It is also a great way to learn about news in your network, insights, and “tap into the knowledge of your network.” An even bigger value lies in the way LinkedIn helps students to begin to picture their experience as it appears to other people. Dismayed that your profile is sparse? Go out and pursue opportunities or experiences that you’ll be proud to feature on your profile!
So you’ve made an account on LinkedIn.com and now you have to fill out your profile. Here are some tips on how to make an “expert” profile:
- Create a profile headline. This is the “slogan” for your profile. What is more powerful: “Student at Northern Arizona University” or “Marketing Major at Northern Arizona University seeking a marketing internship”?
- Upload a profile picture. This is not the place to upload a shot of you and your friends at the bar or a funny meme. Display a good quality, professional headshot of you alone. “But I don’t want a picture of myself floating around on the internet.” Having a profile picture increases the likelihood of your profile being clicked on. It also helps you to be more recognizable by someone you meet, perhaps at a career fair last year, and now hope to reconnect with. A recruiter might not easily recognize your name, but once they see your picture, it might jog their memory.
- Add your education and experience. Don’t be afraid to highlight your activities (clubs, Greek life, sports, certifications) and show off your GPA, if it’s strong enough to note. You can also add honors or awards you’ve received. Next, add your experience as it appears on a resume. 3-5 bullet points on what you did are sufficient. You can add more or less depending on the important on the job in your experience.
- Highlight particular skills and expertise. LinkedIn allows you to identify specific areas of experience. People you’ve connected with can then endorse you for those skills. This is a great way to let people know the skills you’re developing along the way!
- Don’t forget to spell check and have another person look over your profile for any grammatical mistakes. Just as you would with a resume, your LinkedIn profile needs to be typo free!
Remember, the purpose of LinkedIn is to build a strong, professional online footprint. This should be the top result when people Google your name. LinkedIn offers an amazing platform to build, search, and maximize your network, but never forget that it is a professional networking site. At the end of the day, you’ll get out of LinkedIn what you put into it!