By Mike Goodhart, Residence Life and Housing
When I started using LinkedIn four years ago, I viewed it as just another interesting way to market myself – like an alternative version of a resume. But I’d never go back and update it or utilize it for networking! I knew I was missing out, but I’d avoid thinking about it.
So it made perfect sense to learn from Katie Vågen of Career Services as she presented “LinkedIn 101: Your Tool for Networking” on December 12, 2012. Eight of us attend her session, and we learned a great deal as the hour passed by quickly.
For those unfamiliar with LinkedIn, it’s kind of like the professional version of Facebook. You can create a profile with your current and past professional experience, and then make connections with other professionals in your field (or the field to which you aspire). You can “follow” organizations, search for jobs and internships, and learn from others about the latest news or research in your field. You can also participate in discussions about articles, topics, and current events.
Near the top of your profile is your “summary,” where you can write about your unique qualities and networking/career goals. Aside from the summary, you can list your work experiences, education, organization involvement, and publications (the list goes on). Whenever you’re doing something professionally noteworthy, such as presenting at a conference, you can update your status to indicate that. Your status and any updates you provide are tied into a newsfeed which other people you’ve connected to can see.
Connections are easy to find on LinkedIn. You can search for colleagues or you can import contacts from your e-mail accounts. You can also use a new Alumni search tool that gives you the ability to find others in your aspired field that went to your alma mater. Once you make connections, you can write quick “recommendation” blurbs for others or endorse those you know for their particular skills/expertise. Of course, you can ask others to do the same for you! Also, for introverts, LinkedIn can be a particularly great place to network, too.
One excellent point Katie made was when you ask to connect with someone you don’t know well, it’s considered good etiquette to explain why you want to connect and provide context, rather than just using the default LinkedIn message. LinkedIn is about creating and continuing professional relationships; it’s more than just having as many connections as possible.
Like other social media sites, LinkedIn is constantly evolving. There were some new features introduced in the last couple weeks, and LinkedIn will soon be introducing its own in-house applications so you’ll be able to add audio and/or visual examples of your work.
If you’ve never used LinkedIn or haven’t visited the site in a while, now is an ideal time to do it as Winter Break provides you the perfect opportunity! So, get out there and network.