Tips for students: How to use LinkedIn and make things happen


Networking (part 2)

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As I said in the last post, it is so important to keep up with key people you meet because you never know how you may be able to help one another out in the future.

… and by help I don’t mean doing the dishes. I mean they may be able to connect you to your dream job…or one of their friends who may be able to get you set up with the career of your life.

A great way to keep all of the people you meet organized in one place is to use the website Linkedin.

For those of you not familiar with the site, it may seem a little initimidating. Don’t worry! A little clicking here and there and you will be as comfortable with using this site as you are with Facebook. * FYI the benefits of mastering this site may prove to be a much greater tool to you than knowing facebook frontwards and backwards.

And if you are wondering why you should start using Linkedin now -as a high school student, or college student, even those of you beyond college- stop wondering and just do. This is one of those things where you gotta just jump on the bandwagon, ride it out, and see what opportunities arise. If you don’t jump, you’ll never get to meet those opportunities!

Getting started on Linkedin only takes a few minutes —minutes you would probably spend on Facebook or watching mindless reality TV.

First, compile the following information that best represents you and your interests as well as what value you can bring to future employers.

The Professional Profile Kit:

  • A professional looking headshot in a variety of sizes and file types
  • Your updated resume
  • A list of hobbies
  • A descriptive paragraph about any side projects you are working on
  • Any photos of executions from past projects
  • A mini biography that explains your goals, strengths, and interests (1-2 paragraphs)

Once you have this collection of items ready to represent yourself professionally, it is time to create your Linkedin profile.

The great thing about LinkedIn, is that it offers several ways to make connections with people that may not have seemed reachable without having an advanced position yourself.

To enter this social network visit LinkedIn.com. There is a simple process for creating a profile and it is free. By having your professional file compiled, the profile set-up process will go smoother and faster.

Once your profile is set up, make sure to upload your email contacts and connect with them.

Adding People to Your Linkedin Network:

  • Classmates
  • Friends
  • Parents
  • Your parents’ friends (whom you know well)
  • Teachers you have made an impression on
  • Anyone else you can think of that may have a connection or is a connection to reaching your future goals

Be respectful when adding past teachers to your network, they get many, many requests from all of their students. Only send a request to those that already know you well. If you really need to connect with a teacher you may not know too well, send them an email and get more acquainted that way first.

The Intro Message

When you add someone you know to your connections list, be sure to send them a message with an update on your current life, professional goals, and any other information that may trigger them to refer you for opportunities that may take you to the next level of your career.

Recommendations

Recommendations look good.

Have three people who know you best (teachers or family friends) write a snippet about a specific personal skill you possess for your profile. By doing this, potential employers will be exposed to your character and the value you could bring to their company. You will also want to contact past employers about writing an official LinkedIn referral for your profile.

Real Deal Networking

Once you have all of these elements in place, it is time to really network! Keep in touch with the professional contacts you have made by commenting on their LinkedIn statuses, and sending messages. Once you are comfortable keeping up with your current contacts, it is time to expand your list.

A good way to meet new people through LinkedIn is using the search tool. Look up companies you are interested in working for in the future.

See if any interns or assistants have profiles within the search results, as they are less intimidating to contact when you are getting started.

You will find that in order to send a message to someone you need to add the person to your network. To do this you need to find their email. A lot of times you can simply Google their name and company and find an email address that way.

In a message to a potential networking contact you will want to include:

  • Who you are
  • What you are studying
  • How you found him or her
  • Your purpose for sending the message (Do you have a specific question? Would you like to conduct an informational interview?)
  • A request for a response, “at your earliest convenience”
  • A way for them to contact you if not by LinkedIn

Be very concise as LinkedIn only allows room for a few sentences in the introductory message box.

Using Linkedin Answers to Meet Professionals

Another way to utilize LinkedIn to connect with other professionals is to post a question on LinkedIn’s Answers page. If people respond to your question, thank them for their valuable responses and tell them a little about yourself and how the information they provided you was a great help. You will also want to view their profiles. If you see something in their profile that interests you (college they attended, current or past jobs) mention your interest. This may lead to a full on discussion and a new contact in your network.

If you do make a new professional connection online or offline, make sure to follow up with them every few months with a hello, a comment on something you had previously discussed to remind them of who you are, and a note on something relevant in their industry or company, appropriate updates on your career situation, and any new questions or discussion topics you may have for them.

In addition to these tips, LinkedIn has its own blog that provides infinite guidance on creating a connection, and what to do once the connection is made. If you still need additional advice, several top social media blogs can get you on track, check out “ImOnLinkedInNowWhat,” “Mashable,” and “LinkedIntelligence.”

Good luck and Happy Networking!

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