LinkedIn is single-handedly the most powerful social network there is, in terms of your professional life. It is a place filled with amazing connections, both with people and companies. It’s a place that could land you your first professional job or the dream job you’ve been hoping to get for 25 years. This social network can make or break your professional reputation and that is why it is imperative that you use it to its fullest potential.
The LinkedIn Guru, Wayne Breitbarth, visited Mount Mary University’s Intro to Writing for New Media class on Dec. 1 to teach students like you how to take advantage of LinkedIn. He also visited the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Nov. 19 in 2012, and that is when I met him.
His advice is timeless, not only for the social network itself, but for your resume and general professional endeavors. For those who haven’t heard from him yet, here is the best of the best advice he gave students.
100+100=100 percent done profile + 100 Connections = Success to Start
This is the formula for success on LinkedIn. Breitbarth explains that with 100 percent of your profile completed, plus 100 connections to start, you are on your way to success. When starting your LinkedIn profile, or going back to update it, don’t miss any steps. Make sure everything is filled in. When looking to get those 100 connections, look to your classmates and co-workers; 100 people will build up faster than you think!
Get Connected Without the Bore
Include a personal note. And just so you know, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” does not count as personal. Adding a little extra to your connection requests will set you apart from the rest. It doesn’t have to be long, but tailing your message will add a little something for easy recognition (“Oh yeah! This is the girl I met in line at the conference!”) and will help create a lasting impression.
4.75 Degrees to Kevin Bacon
When working at growing your professional profile, only connect with people who are your 1st degree connections. You personally know these people, so they can actually vouch for you when push comes to shove and you need some recommendations. Once you’ve connected with them, you can work at finding ways to connect with their desirable connections, i.e., joining public groups to get your name noticed.
“This Is Just a Big Beauty Contest”
We are all unique right? Our moms have been telling us that since day one, so make her proud and tell us why you’re so interesting. Literally – tell stories. Your work experience shouldn’t just be a list of things you did; include little anecdotes about why you loved it so much, or what a specific task actually entailed. Those are the things that grab attention and make future employers want to keep reading.
Search Engine Optimization
Have you ever heard of SEO? It’s the use of keywords in Internet content that helps crawlers (like Google) find you and display you as a result in a search. Same goes for LinkedIn. For example, when an employer is looking for a candidate who has experience with a specific program, they will literally search for the program. If you submit a resume for a job and the employer looks you up on LinkedIn, he or she will be looking to see if you have used said program. If it’s in your LinkedIn profile, you have a better chance of leveling up. When setting up your LinkedIn profile, think of what an employer in your industry would search for and tailor your profile to include those keywords.
Some last advice:
•When writing your summary, think of what you would say to a person you are having coffee with. What would you tell them about yourself?
•Include every job you have ever had, including in high school. You want employers to know that you took pride in flipping burgers for four years at McDonald’s. It may be embarrassing to you, but it shows them you will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
•Ask for letters of recommendation from professors and supervisors; it jazzes your profile up a bit and also shows that people really do value your work ethic.
•Follow big companies and small companies. Extra hint: Small companies will look into their LinkedIn followers as potential employees (bonus!!!).