LinkedIn has been described as “Facebook for Professionals”, but what exactly is it, and why should you, as a student or graduate, engage with it?
Here are five ways to make LinkedIn work for you:
- Create a professional profile
Setting up a basic LinkedIn profile is easy. Go to www.linkedin.com, register and follow the instructions. You need to make your profile interesting and engaging so that you can be found by a potential contact who could be your next employer.
Make sure you have a great professional-looking photo and an interesting headline. Don’t just describe yourself as “Student”, but instead add the title of your degree or your part-time job, if relevant.
Your LinkedIn profile is more than just an online CV so try to bring your profile to life by adding links to blogs you may write or presentations you have given.
- Build contacts and network
Start by connecting to fellow students or graduates you know and also your lecturers. This will build your immediate network or “first-degree connections”. This will lead you to your extended network of “second-degree connections”. These are people you don’t know directly but could be useful through your initial contact who could introduce you.
Don’t try to connect with people you don’t know. If you try to connect with Richard Branson he probably won’t respond!
Personalise your invitations to connect and always remain professional and polite.
- Use relevant LinkedIn groups
Joining LinkedIn groups can be very useful for both networking and information. Think of a subject and there is a probably a group for it on LinkedIn! You can view the profiles of other Group members and contribute to discussions, therefore getting yourself known.
- Search for jobs and internships
More organisations are using LinkedIn to advertise jobs and internships. These opportunities are only available to members of LinkedIn. You can save jobs you are interested in and there is a link to the company’s website where you can apply.
Go to Jobs for students and recent graduates and start searching!
- Follow organisations you are interested in
By following companies on LinkedIn you will get information they post about themselves into your own newsfeed. You will keep informed regarding their products and services, job opportunities and so on and employers can also see who is following them. This can be a useful way to find out about employees’ career paths, too.
Keep updating your profile with new experiences and connecting with people you meet and you will soon realise the benefits of being a LinkedIn member.