College Students: Now is the Time to Launch on LinkedIn
This is a guest post by Rachel Simon, an expert on writing effective LinkedIn profiles and owner of Connect The Dots Digital. Be sure to read until the end as she offers a FREE LinkedIn checklist to help you create a great LinkedIn profile.
Recently a friend of my daughter’s asked me if I could help her with her LinkedIn profile. My initial response was “You have a LinkedIn profile? You are only a Junior in High School!” But when I started thinking about it, maybe she had the right idea.
These days, students start to accumulate professional experience from the time they are 15 or 16 years old. Summer jobs and internships, work-based learning and other accomplishments form the basis for their professional narrative.
While this student was really thinking ahead, when it comes to college students, LinkedIn needs to be a part of their plan for transitioning into the workforce. Unfortunately, too often LinkedIn is not on their radar – students don’t know how to use it or why it’s an incredible tool for them to leverage.
Austin Henline, a Business Leadership Manager at LinkedIn, knows a thing or two about this subject. If you read his About section on his LinkedIn profile, he talks about how his college professor said “Join LinkedIn” and that was the end of the advice. In a post he shared a few months back, Austin did a survey of college students and found that the two main reasons college students don’t have a profile are:
- They don’t know how to use it
- They don’t see the advantage
More than half of the students he surveyed do not see the value and opportunity that LinkedIn provides. But I want to introduce you to some students who not only get it but can serve as examples to their peers for how students can excel on LinkedIn.
Arlene is a freshman at UC, San Diego. Arlene has done a great job of crafting her profile with a clear headline and engaging About section. She showcases her past internship experience, school leadership roles, volunteerism, and academic achievements. Arlene is also a content creator and is building an engaged audience through her posts. I am excited to watch her journey through college and beyond.
Prath is a junior at Indiana University. I really like how his headline ties in his professional and academic experience, and he has done a great job of integrating various internships and other professional experience into his About section. As a business student, he clearly conveys his passion and excitement for his coursework and how he’s applied it to professional opportunities. He is setting himself up for success after graduation.
Tara is a senior at UC Davis studying Communication. She is a passionate advocate for social justice and that comes through on her LinkedIn profile. She is a blogger and is developing her voice through her content. I really like Tara’s banner image – it clearly conveys her value proposition. She also does a nice job of using the “Featured” section to highlight some of her content.
I hope these examples will help show how college students can build a strong foundation on LinkedIn with their profile. But that’s just the start of how to leverage LinkedIn. I want to share a few tips for students as to what comes next:
- Build a Strong (and Specific) Network – It’s important to be deliberate and strategic when first building a LinkedIn network. Connect with professors, professionals and mentors from past and current internships and jobs, people you know who can open doors and make introductions for you (e.g. friends of your parents, people you know in the community, members of your religious institution, alumni from your college, etc). More is not necessarily better so consider WHY you want to connect with people and ALWAYS include a personal note when sending a connection request.
- Follow Companies and Their Leadership – Maybe working at Netflix after graduation is your goal. If so, follow their company page along with some of their active high-level employees. When you engage with content from a company and more importantly, their leadership, you will be noticed. It can also help you keep up with industry trends and company news.
- Create Content – There’s a huge gap on LinkedIn when it comes to Gen Z. If college students want to stand out, sharing their experience leading up to and starting out in the professional world is an incredible opportunity. And this generation knows how to create content! I would love to see more students and young professionals tell their stories and educate the rest of us on how they navigate and experience college and their pre-professional years.
- Build Relationships – Most people on LinkedIn are kind and generous – we want to help and are happy to serve as a resource for others. And who doesn’t want to help college students? So, take the time to engage with people – comment on their posts, ask questions, reach out through the DMs. Building relationships on LinkedIn could lead to some amazing opportunities.
Now is the time to launch your LinkedIn presence. Your profile will grow and change over time but building a foundation now will set you up for success in the future.
Do you need help with your LinkedIn profile? I put together a simple profile checklist that walks you through each section of it. Download a copy HERE to help you get your profile looking fab!
Rachel Simon is the Founder and CEO of Connect the Dots Digital. She works side-by-side with her clients to help them create an authentic presence, add value, and build relationships on LinkedIn. She knows that for her clients LinkedIn can often be overwhelming and difficult. She strives to make it fun while showing how to use its features to achieve real business goals.