Class of 2016, your professional journey is soon to begin and your LinkedIn profile is the starting place for your professional story; who you are, what makes you you, and how the skills and knowledge you have acquired from experience and school furthers your passion.
For some young professionals, LinkedIn may not be a high priority as they believe it is simply an online resume, but it is so much more than that. It is a business tool that, if used correctly, will open many doors and close many deals. Until then, here are 16 ways to impress on LinkedIn that will further your knowledge, won’t take too much time, and will make you stand out.
16 Ways To Impress on LinkedIn
- Profile: As I mentioned, your profile is your professional story. Craft a great summary and fill out many of the various sections to tell your network more about who you are.
- Photo: Your LinkedIn photo should look as professional as possible and should only consist of you. Having your friends in your picture makes it harder for your network to identify who they are learning more about.
- Network: While you’ll want to grow your network, do not be a “quantity over quality” connector. Connect with intention. If you have held summer positions or internships, connect with those you worked with as they are great to have in your network. Professors in your field of study are also great to connect with as well.
- Personalized Connect Request: When connecting, LinkedIn is happy to send the default I’d like to add you to my professional LinkedIn network, however, creating a personalized message conveys thoughtfulness and that you care enough to take one or two minutes to craft your own message. If you are connecting to CEOs or to people you met somewhere, add the context in which you know or met them to help them remember who you are and how you know them.
- Connect with Alumni: Connecting with alumni is great for building your network. Chances are, you have already connected with your friends but did you miss anyone? What about those a year or two ahead of you that you know? Connect with them.
- Alumni Data: The “Find Alumni” page contains data about where alumni work, what they do, what they studied, and what skills they have. If you are looking for a job, do a little digging. You may find someone that you know who works at your dream company which happens to have an opening.
- Alumni Group: Joining your college or university’s alumni group on LinkedIn is a great way to stay connected and up-to-date with what is happening at the school. Plus, you may find other alumni to connect to!
- Young Professional Groups: There are a large number of groups on LinkedIn pertaining to young professionals. Join one. They provide tips and insight into how to navigate the working-world.
- Recommendations: Ask your professors or former employers for a recommendation on LinkedIn. Having a few sentences about you, your work ethic, etc. is great insight for future employers.
- Stay in Touch: LinkedIn provides you with ways to keep in touch. This an easy way to engage with your network. Congratulate your connections on new positions, work anniversaries, or wish them a happy birthday.
- Engage with Content: Your homepage is comprised of what your connections are posting. If you see something interesting, engage with the post. Either like, comment, or re-share. As important as it is to build your network, it is equally important to engage with your network. By simply liking, commenting, or re-sharing, your connections see your name… seeing your name often keeps you top of mind.
- Share an Update: Share informative and interesting articles, events, etc. that you believe will bring value to your network. This is a great way to keep you at the top of your news feed.
- Publish Post: Whereas, if you are creating original content, publish it as a post. Publishing posts help build credibility about your expertise.
- LinkedIn Students: Still searching for your post-collegiate job? Download LinkedIn Students. Using your LinkedIn Network, LinkedIn Students provides roles, tips, articles, and available positions to help you find your first post-collegiate job.
- Lynda.com: This online learning platform offers over 4,000 different courses on a wide variety of topics. If the position you are seeking requires knowledge in a specific area or skill, check out Lynda.com.
- Follow Up: While you want to grow your network with new connections, don’t forget about who is currently in your network. Following up every so often with your first level connections with a quick, “Hope all is well!” message is a quick way to convey your thoughtfulness and nurture your current network.
Each of these ideas are continuous and ongoing. They are not a one time deal. You will (and should) update your profile as your professional story continues and you will continue to grow and engage with your network. Turn your LinkedIn profile, network, and activity into a lifelong career asset.
Go get ‘em Class of 2016!