I talk a lot about creating a strategic LinkedIn network, not accepting all invitations, and monitoring the integrity of your network. I believe in and apply those best practices with one exception.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this as graduation approaches quickly and the opportunities for so many graduating seniors are not sure so clear. There is such promise and hope in these young people. I enjoy how they think, their aspirations, their ability to redefine success and engage.
So I am making it a practice to connect with them on LinkedIn. It’s really the least I can do, right?
I have spent a career meeting people and in the last couple of years my LinkedIn network has grown exponentially because of the work I am doing. Yep, because of LinkedIn.
There are three reasons I am happy to connect with students and young professionals.
1. They need a break. They need someone to help open doors and connect the dots. They need the access that I, as an experienced professional, can provide.
2. They provide vitality, energy and diversity to my network. My network, if it looks like it only contains people like me, runs the risk of being one dimensional and stagnant. This limits opportunities for everyone in my network.
3. Our young people are the leaders of tomorrow. I value the experience of all generations, of the senior leader and wise sag as well as the energy and new-world thinking of the young. I know I have as much to learn from them as they have from me. I welcome the collaboration and relationship they bring.
Will I connect with every student and young professional? Probably not, there needs to be a reason or spark that I see, but I will connect with those who are committed to growing their professional careers, those who recognize their own permanent beta and have opted to build a strong and compelling personal story—a digital brand on LinkedIn.
Students or young professionals with little experience may be apprehensive about building a profile, but this is where you stress the positive.
Build around activities, volunteering and service experience. LinkedIn has added sections designed specifically for students and young professionals. Check out Victoria’s Profile. I reached out to her after coming across her LinkedIn Profile while doing a search for editors. Victoria is just finishing up her sophomore year of college but she’s done a masterful job of building out all of the experience she’s acquired during her two years in school.
If you’re an established professional, reach out and invite some young professionals and students into your LinkedIn network. Surely you know them—your children, their friends, your colleague’s children and the list goes on.
If you’re the student or young professional, differentiate yourself by building a thoughtful, complete LinkedIn presence.
As a student or young professional your Profile should include:
- Any internships
- Volunteer, community service
- Translate your skills for your professional transition. Play a sport? Definitely include that experience. Some recruiters look for those who have played college sports (the translatable skills—team player, disciplined, leadership, fortitude, strategic). No sports? How about music, clubs, missions—all good for your LinkedIn Profile.
Ready to give the students and young professionals you know some help? Connect with them on LinkedIn. You never know, someday they may be able to do you a favor.
Do you have a story about how connecting with a student or young professional made a difference? Leave a comment or get in touch. For more tips on how to improve your LinkedIn profile as a student or young professional, look into some of our resources.