LinkedIn is a more professional social networking site that is career-focused and enables users to exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with trusted contacts. LinkedIn users invite people they know and trust to become "linked in" to them. (Similar to being friends on Facebook.) They are then called “Connections”. Choose connections wisely. You'll also want to choose your network carefully; only add people you actually know – and who know you well enough to give you glowing recommendations. A recruiter may choose to contact one of your connections to ask about you; make sure that person is someone you know and trust, such as family, friends, former teachers, colleagues, and employers. Here’s a short video description of LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/aEzVz
A major feature of LinkedIn is its groups, allowing anyone to start a group based on an association or industry topic. For example, there are tens of thousands of academic and corporate groups that enable alumni and employees to stay in touch. LinkedIn members request an invitation to the group and can receive postings by other members via e-mail. It is through these groups that you can find jobs and internships, and make new connections. Watch for future blog posts about how to use LinkedIn to find internships and jobs.
Here’s how to get started:
Go to http://linkedin.com/ and create a free account.
- Create your profile. Your profile is very important, and can increase your visibility online and help build your personal/professional brand. Make sure your profile is complete and detailed – almost like an online resume that includes information such as education, skills, qualifications, employment information and experience, and recommendations.
- Add a picture. It’s always important to connect a face with your name. A headshot is recommended; but no larger than 80x80 pixels.
Education. When adding information about your education, don’t forget to add your activities, associations, and any special honors or awards you’ve earned.
- Professional Summary. When filling out this section, be sure to select an industry (recruiters often use that field to search). If you change your major, or are looking for a job in a different industry later on, make sure you update this information. There is a ‘headline’ feature that will appear at the top of the page when your profile is viewed by others – so be sure to fill in this information.
- Keywords and skills. Be sure to include keywords and skills that will make it easier for your profile to be found in search results.
- Contact settings. Contact settings let your connections (and recruiters) know what you are available for. Even if you are not ready for a job yet, it’s beneficial to be flexible here – you never know what opportunities might come along.
- Links. If you have a web site, blog, or Twitter profile, add the links – it’s a good way to provide more information about you, and your interests. Beyond just linking to my blog sites, I have used the RSS feed to bring my blogs into my profile (this is a good idea of your blog is professional in nature, rather than personal – more information about blogging in a future blog!).
- Public Profile URL. Make your profile public. Customize your URL so it is easily recognizable as yours … such as http://www.linkedin.com/in/YourName.
- Make connections. Connect with other members and build your network – invite family, friends, former teachers and current professors, and employers (past and present). The more connections you have, the more opportunities you have. Just make sure you only connect with people you know – quality is more important than quantity here!
- Get Recommendations. Ask former and current employers, teachers, and professors for recommendations – as you would for a resume.
- Groups. Join groups that you are affiliated with (such as the school you are attending, or have graduated from); or groups that interest you – by topic, industry, or interest.
There is plenty of excellent information about LinkedIn on the Web – use a search engine or two and look up information that can help you create a professional LinkedIn profile, or how to use LinkedIn to find information, internships, or jobs.