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This post is written for forward-thinking educators, parents with young adults in higher education and those institutions we trust to further educate and prepare our children.
Keeping a group, whether pre-schoolers or young adults or seasoned business leaders, interested, engaged and inspired to act is no easy feat. But everyday, all over the globe, people endeavor to do just that. As someone who considers themselves a student of just about everything and does a good deal of teaching, I am drawn to others with a passion and vision for teaching.
As another school year kicks off, I’d like to encourage those lone professors and adjunct faculty in colleges and universities all over the country and world. Higher education is painfully far behind when it comes to preparing students for living in a 21st century world of hyper-connectivity, professional networks, technology and a new business sensibility that includes social enterprise and social mission.
Higher Education is woefully behind explaining, training and encouraging students with regard to LinkedIn. The Career Services Centers who say they’ve got it, may not. I’m not saying there are NOT colleges and universities who are doing a good job with LinkedIn and have built a strategic relationship with LinkedIn (University of Michigan leads the way) but the vast majority are talking about LinkedIn based on how they use it and/or how it worked the last time they logged in.
I’ve come to see that the students who learn LinkedIn well (to build a life-long network of people, find a job, build their brand and begin to share their expertise with the world) had one of two awesome teachers along the way. It’s like anything else, it’s the one person who provides the “aha moment” of clarity and inspiration. It’s the professor or teacher who boldly states why this should be important and then reinforces it throughout the semester. I’ve had the distinct privilege of working with some of these folks and I’d like you to meet them. They are all inspiring leaders.
Mike March teaches master’s level and undergraduate business courses in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Finance, Business Planning, Business Consulting, Marketing and Management at York College in York, Pa. One of his recent students said he was the only teacher in four years to talk about LinkedIn and require they all have a built-out Profile. Amanda Morrow and Jeffrey Duke, are among Mike’s students who now use LinkedIn regularly.
Leslie Kendrick is a full-time Senior Lecturer in the Whiting School of Engineering’s undergraduate Entrepreneurship & Management Program at Johns Hopkins University and the Collegiate Relations Committee Liaison for the American Marketing Association–Baltimore Chapter. Leslie and I have had a great time hosting two events where students showed up on their own to learn about LinkedIn.
“I incorporate LinkedIn tips into my coverage of Personal Selling in Marketing Principles classes and I tell every freshman that I meet to start building their presence on the platform.”
Karen Mardock coordinates all non-academic aspects of the Emerging Leaders MBA at the Sellinger School of Business, Loyola University Maryland and every fall we work together in an interactive workshop to ready her students to better understand how they should be leveraging LinkedIn for internships and their career.
Emilia Poiter is the Director of Alumnae and Alumni Relations and Ammad Sheikh is the Director of the Career Center at Notre Dame University Maryland. They’ve hosted a number of open events for alumni and students, where we have served students and alumni who may or may not be in career transition. It truly is multi-generational networking at its best.
Bob Graham is the founder and owner of Bigger Pie Strategies and is a current Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University. We met when he was adjunct faculty at Towson University. At the end of my presentation, a senior majoring in Business with a concentration in Marketing mentioned that this was the first anyone had mentioned LinkedIn. She was horrified and inspired to get busy and make sure she was on LinkedIn.
Carol Norton is a Communication Studies Lecturer & Trainer and Sal Correnti a new adjunct faculty member teaching the Professional Experience class at Towson University are passionate about making sure their students are equipped to be relevant and marketable to the business community. I think more Professional Experience classes makes great sense, don’t you?
And finally, Bob Nadeau a Professor at Plymouth State University’s College of Business Administration with specialization in sales, marketing and management courses. He is the director of the Professional Sales Program and has been of a proponent of LinkedIn for several years. A couple of years ago we hosted a series of webinars for his students who, I am confident, are now better sales people.
This post is anecdotal, no doubt. And, we at Intero are but one small group of LinkedIn trainers but I do hear similar stories from other LinkedIn trainers all over the country. I also see LinkedIn working to connect prospective and current students with universities and, more important, alumni. Schools that are looking to bridge the gap between their legacy databases and keeping up with alumni should pay more attention to LinkedIn and create a strategy to engage with students, parents, donors, alumni and the business community to continue to build life-long educational value. In fact, it’s my opinion that LinkedIn is taking over the schools’ conversations with these constituencies and letting them (their LinkedIn members) manage the conversation and connections.
Schools need to wake up and design courses that suitably address the issues and technology of our times. While LinkedIn may not fill up an entire semester (it certainly could fill a good portion beyond building a profile and searching for a job) teaching LinkedIn, Excel, Google Docs, Evernote, MailChimp, WordPress and so many other digital tools will make students much better employees for sales, marketing, finance, operations and HR. These skills are relevant for business, non-profit, higher education, NGOs. Assigning podcasts as listening assignments will provide a glimpse into today’s startup culture and provide tools to help the more traditional companies navigate more nimbly through this space. And, by the way, these classes should NOT be for business students only but every undergraduate who walks onto campus.
And, parents, this should be something that is part of how you vet potential schools. You are, after, supporting this educational cause, correct?
Erin Miller, our recruiter recently searched through LinkedIn for potential entry level candidates for a position we have open. It was resoundingly Towson University graduates. Kudos, Towson. Now, we just have to verify that they have the skills that they claim they do. That, my friends, is an entirely different post.
For now, let’s be grateful to the visionary lecturers, instructors and faculty who illuminate the practical and the theoretical and provide their students with skills and tools they will use for the long-term.
P.S. – As an individual, have you tapped into your “Find Alumni” page on LinkedIn? Check it out: hover over Connections when the drop down menu appears and click on Find Alumni. Who might you reconnect with this week?