As your senior year comes to a close, there are three things you should have: a tremendous number of credits, a few close friends, and a LinkedIn profile. As you wrap up your college career LinkedIn becomes necessary. It is the third fastest-growing social network site, yet I see college students struggle with it still. There are over 39 million students and recent college graduates on this social networking site. They (you) are actually LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.
First of all, why is LinkedIn vital? Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second. This gives you access to 380 million professionals as you start your job search.
If you’re one of the average students in college, you probably created your LinkedIn account months ago and haven’t touched it since. What good is a tool if you let it sit in your toolbox all the time? In order to excel at LinkedIn, you have to use it regularly.
Have a Completed Profile
Just because you have created a profile doesn’t mean you’ve completed it. Completing all the sections of your profile with thought can take time. You need to have valuable information in the different sections on your profile: experience, volunteering, projects and so on. Take your time and be creative when creating a fun headline with an informative summary for each section.
Some sections on your profile rely on others and recommendations can put your profile above others. Recommendations reassure prospects of how great you are in your field. Endorsements also reassure prospective employers the traits you possess, so create positive and valuable endorsements.
This can be the hardest part of LinkedIn, but there are numerous resources for you. LinkedIn as well as other large companies have produced detailed articles to help you complete your profile. This is the first step, and the most vital. Once you’ve taken your time to do this you can continue on to excelling at LinkedIn.
Like you do on Facebook, share updates with your connections on LinkedIn. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is all industry-related and takes on a professional tone. Share an article you found informative. Post an update of a current project you are working on, or a meeting you’re excited to attend. When you share an update it puts your profile in front of those professionals you’d like to get hired by.
But, be careful with the updates you share: avoid sharing things that are too personal or irrelevant to the industry. Updates on LinkedIn stay live on newsfeeds for weeks. You may see an update someone liked or commented on that was created two weeks ago.
The best time to share your update is Monday through Friday during business hours. This is when LinkedIn sees the most usage. Social media managers also recommend 20 posts a month from individuals, which calculates out to 5 a week, or daily. Following this suggestion will help you extend your network and engage with your connections.
Blog on It
Blogging has really grown over the past years and has recently made an appearance on LinkedIn. LinkedIn calls each blog a “Post.” The post section is very user-friendly. Even if you have a separate blog site, share your blog posts on LinkedIn as well. This shows professionals your writing skill, your interests and your dedication to going above and beyond. Don’t have a blog? That’s OK — create a post specifically for LinkedIn. Share a paper you wrote for class or a project summary for a work assignment.
Here are some ideas for what to post:
- Summarize a conference or extra-curricular event you attended.
- Report background information on something you do to make your organization successful.
- Share some details that bother you about an industry-related idea.
- Explain your thoughts on a brand or a campaign. (Professionals love to hear what millennials think about industry related work.)
- Share really cool work you or your organization has done.
Lists are also a trend in blogging. Write in a numerical list: “10 things I hate about blogging” or “8 LinkedIn Tips.” Be creative in your posts, and be personable so the readers can get to know your voice. As you publish your posts, remember the essentials of writing; use correct grammar and techniques.
Interact After Connecting
Notice this article isn’t titled, “Intro to LinkedIn.” Assuming you have already pursued and made connections, it’s important you interact. Go on the site every day; if you’re sharing an update then you should be scrolling through your news feed.
Comment on other professionals’ updates, even if that person is a friend or peer. Commenting on LinkedIn updates is different from commenting on your friends’ Facebook statuses. Keep your professional attitude and instead of saying “cool,” write about why you think the update is cool or what is cool about it. Use complete sentences and proper punctuation because you never know how many people are going to see your comment.
If a connection shares a link for an article and you read it, comment on it. Share what you liked about the article, thank them for sharing it or take a quote directly out and talk about that quote. Spark conversation with your comment.
Here are a few examples:
- “Hey Joe, thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed how this article touched on punctuation in LinkedIn comments, it was very helpful.”
- “This was a great read. Forbes always does a superior job at elaborating on the marketing industry. This article goes in depth with the new online marketing trend, which is blowing up our industry. Wouldn’t you agree?”
- “Is it just me or did you go straight to the app store to download this app after reading this article? Great share Joe, I think the LinkedIn app will really help me excel with my LinkedIn.”
Use the “Job Search” Feature
One of LinkedIn’s greatest features is still rarely used by graduating college students. The job tab helps personalize your job search. The first step is to head to the “Jobs” tab and search job titles you are interested in. Be specific; use the advanced search to choose multiple cities you might want to live in after graduation. After hitting the “submit” button, read through the options that come up. Even if you are not ready to apply, scroll through and read the open positions. Find some that interest you and hit “save this job.” You can save multiple jobs, without applying for any. The reason it’s crucial to save some jobs is so LinkedIn knows what you like. The site will now tailor your news feed to the jobs that interest you.
As you scroll down your newsfeed daily, you will start to see open positions within the feed. This will be more helpful as graduation approaches. This also helps to know what companies are hiring in your field. Take the next step to “follow” the companies with those open positions. This will remind you when it is time to graduate what some of your options are.
Social media takes time. Now that you’ve been guided in what to do on LinkedIn, you can start. Take time out of each day to seek out jobs, read and comment on others’ postings, write a blog post, and share updates. My last tip to excel is to download LinkedIn’s mobile app. This will allow you to use LinkedIn every day at any time, and remind you to use it as you’re scrolling through your home screen. All of these options for excelling are available on the app.