LinkedIn is a social media website dedicated to professional networking. Much like Facebook or Twitter, you create a personal profile, and can adjust what information you provide.
Making a Profile
Sign up and create a profile under your name. Add things like your degree, past jobs (that are applicable, or framed in a way that makes them applicable, to where you want your career to go.
For instance, I worked as a server and bartender at a Mexican restaurant for a few years during college, but I don’t list that on my LinkedIn page because it’s not appropriate to the direction my career is headed now – towards teaching and editing.
However, five years ago when my career path was much less established, I might have listed that job to show I could keep a job for extended periods, and I might have framed my skills broadly so they could apply to where I wanted to go – able to multi-task and listen carefully, worked my way up the restauranting hierarchy from host to server, able to remember complicated formulas and rules like when mixing drinks, etc.
If you don’t have much of a job history, similar to resumes, your volunteer work or college activities become more important. So does your “Summary” section – this is where you can orient people who visit your profile.
When you edit your profile, you’ll see you can also list things like certifications, awards, organizations, languages, etc. Make use of those when appropriate. As you build your profile, you can adjust it by altering the order of information, adding details about your different positions, listing skills you have, and so on. Make sure you add a picture, and try to have it be a professional-looking photo (mine is not a great example of this). Forbes recently had some good advice about using the site.
Let’s say you’ve made your basic profile: now what? The next step is to find connections and people/organizations/places to follow. This is the “social” aspect of the site. Others look at your profile, endorse your skills, recommend you for jobs, and so on. On your LinkedIn homepage, these different entities will update you, much like a Facebook newsfeed. Keep in mind that when you visit other profiles, they can often see that you’ve done so; this is why it’s a good idea to have your profile reasonably filled out and prepared for viewing before you explore the site.
Only connect to people you actually know, and who have a real relation to you career-wise. This isn’t like Twitter where you might follow people who look interesting. This is virtual networking. This is building a professional persona. I can’t stress enough that this site is public. What you post on here is easily searchable by potential employers, strangers, your friends, everybody. A google search of your name will yield this profile as a top result (usually). Therefore, the rules for crafting a good resume and proofreading it apply doubly here. If, for some reason you decide you don’t want to ever deal with LinkedIn again after this class delete your profile. You don’t want an out-of-date page lingering in your search results. This is a profile you should update semi-regularly: not every day by any means, but any time you have a professional development or something worth adding, you should change your profile. You should also periodically connect to new people.
Connecting: when you ask to connect to someone, it’s best to add a personalized message rather than the default connection request LinkedIn provides. This is just like cover letters – if you show you’ve taken the time to address the person/position directly, it seems like you care more.
Assignment for Wednesday
Please start your profile before class on Wednesday. We’ll be looking at different examples of LinkedIn posts and we’ll workshop some of your pages in class. Try to find an example of a “good” page to discuss. Be ready too to discuss the results of your google search. Your final LinkedIn profile will be due Friday before class. Please post a link to it, with your name, in the comments of this blog post.
Also for Wednesday, please bring questions or concerns about LinkedIn and building your profile.