Expert Advice- How College Student Must Use LinkedIn for Networking

Fri, Aug 24, 2012

Interview, Social Media

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for college students for networking with people, seeking internships and full-time jobs etc. Beyond this, LinkedIn gives you a platform to develop and express your professional identity.  If you don’t have a website or blog, it may be the only means by which to represent yourself as a budding professional online.

I asked some social media experts a question “How college student must use LinkedIn for networking”. Here are their answers.

1. Dave Taylor from AskDaveTaylor.com

You can Follow Dave at LinkedIn here. 

dave taylorOne of the greatest challenges that college students have today is that the advice their parents got about finding a job after graduating is obsolete. For most grads, anything your parents are going to suggest is probably moot and years out of date. Like, so totally 20th century. Yes, a resume is important, as is a good cover letter, and it’s smart to dress up and be polite – “yes, sir”, “no, sir” – on an interview, but getting out of the classroom and into the office of a hiring manager just ain’t what it used to be.

The biggest difference is that companies are often searching for new employees from a massive pool of resumes and candidate information, easily filtering out things like the programmer who is applying for a Ruby on Rails job but doesn’t actually indicate they have any experience with the language, or the job that requires a bilingual candidate but their resume doesn’t list languages. It’s all data driven now, just like so much of our wired world.

Because of this, it’s smart to get started building out your LinkedIn profile as soon as possible. Create your own consulting business and list it. Got a summer internship? List that and ask your mentors for online recommendations and connections. Your folks or other people in your family highly connected? Ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn. A candidate who demonstrates an understanding of the modern digital world is far more attractive to an employer than one who is still waiting to get a call back from the resume they sent in two months ago on fancy paper with a nice cover letter.

Worse, finding a job is much more of a numbers game than it used to be, so don’t hesitate to use connections, tap into friends of the family who might work at a company you like, and definitely do put your name forth for as many positions as you can. Waiting for that one perfect job is a great way to end up living in the basement at your parents place after college while working as a waiter or barista, and that’s not for you, is it?
Finally, a word of caution: whether they’re supposed to or not, employers are increasingly checking out social profiles of candidates to ensure that they are mature and aren’t going to embarrass the company. Keep your Facebook updates, photo album and “likes” clean and professional. Facebook might have started out as a college networking and dating tool, but it’s evolved quite a bit since then. Be savvy, don’t have regrets!

2. Janet Fouts from JanetFouts.com

janet foutsYou should be spending time on Linkedin participating in groups relevant to your field of study, asking and answering questions in the “Answers” section and fine tuning your profiles to make the best possible impression and grow your personal network.

Use Linkedin company pages to find the companies you want to work for and get to know more about them, what the work environment is like. Get introduced to people who work at these companies and learn from them in the groups.

If you have some job experience already, get recommendations from your employers, managers or co-workers. It’s never too early to build your reputation.

3. Kim Randall from KiMediaStrategies.com

kim randallCollege students should definitely have a LinkedIn account and utilize it as much as possible. It;s a great place to connect with people in the industry in which you are going to school for as well as a place to network with potential future employers. LinkedIn also provides a platform for the students to showcase their achievements and become a leader within their industry by answering questions and helping others out.

4. Neal Schaffer from WindMillNetworking.com

Neal-SchafferThis is how college students can utilize LinkedIn for networking

1.) Network for Internships

Internships over summer or winter vacations give you a great chance to “try out” a career even before you have decided on your college major.  Instead of searching through your college Career Center or searching a host of websites like Internweb try LinkedIn to search the 45+ million professional database and find a job title and company that might interest you.  Then, go ahead and try to make contact with someone who’s job you’d love to do.

2.) Search for Mentors

Once you have or are close to deciding on your college major, you may be interested in getting advice from an alumni who graduated in the same major or maybe is doing a job that you are considering for your future career.  Again, you can go back to your Career Center for help, but in some ways it may be easier to precisely find the mentor that you are looking for on LinkedIn using Advanced People Search.  You can also join your college’s LinkedIn Group for alumni and check out the discussions boards and news postings for interesting people to contact.

3.) Find a Job

It is actually easier for colleges students to network on LinkedIn because you are a college student.  A lot of people will go out of there way to help you because you are still in school.  And if you are earnest and passionate in what you are doing, you will find more than enough LinkedIn professionals willing to chat with you .  Just as experienced professionals rely on their social networking to find the “hidden jobs,” you will be ahead of the game if you start doing this with your own LinkedIn network before you graduate from college.

Obviously there is no reason why a college student can’t start networking early with working professionals on LinkedIn just as executives utilize the social networking site.

5. Alexis Grant from AlexisGrant.com

Alexis GrantThe best feature for college students on LinkedIn is being able to see who your network knows. That means you can tap into the contacts of your parents, friends, teachers, colleagues and more. In essence, you can multiply the power of your own network simply by seeing who everyone else knows. And that means that the more people you connect with on LinkedIn, the more your network multiplies!

6. Mike Street from MrMikeStreet.com

mike streetNo more college parties…you’re all grown up and LinkedIn is your first formal invite out into the world of networking. So make sure your profile doesn’t look as messy as your old drom room. Tell your career story with your profile. Outline your experiences, internships, and get recommendations from your college professors to help amplify your presence. Link out to your projects and give tons of examples of your work. The more you can show the more attractive to employers you’ll be. Once your profile is clear start searching and see you can reach out to in your secondary circles in order to start finding job leads. And don’t be shy to ask for an information session. Many companies will let you come in to learn more about the company and see were it leads

7. Matt Southern from MattSouthern.com

See Matt’s profile at bureaugroup.ca

matt southernThe first thing I would recommend to college students using LinkedIn for networking is to have a 100% completely filled in profile. Sell yourself by explaining what you can do, what you’ve done and what you’re looking to do next. Don’t just list job titles but complete job descriptions as well. The more content you have in your LinkedIn profile the more chances you have of getting found by recruiters looking for someone with your skills and abilities.

The next thing I would recommend is to be active in LinkedIn Groups. Search for groups that are relevant to your industry and show how knowledgeable you are by participating in some of the discussions. This is a great way to get your name out there and get noticed by other professionals in your field.

Also try to keep your own profile active as much as your can. Update your status regularly, comment on other people’s updates, share some links once in a while. People will be reluctant to connect with you if it looks like your profile hasn’t been updated in months. The benefits you receive from LinkedIn are a result of the amount of time you spend interacting on there, so stay active!

8.Houssem from HQSocialMedia.com

houssemThe biggest advantage that LinkedIn has for college students is that they get to build connections with professionals before they graduate. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to communicate with like-minded people on a professional level. The great thing about linkedIn is that you can get recommendation from people who are familiar with your work. If some of your professors are on LinkedIn, you could simply ask them to give you a recommendation on this social network. Once they do, your profile will be more likely to get noticed by other professionals who might be in need of your skills.

Besides building a good profile that has all of your prior experiences and achievements, you get to post interesting updates with your network and see what others are posting as well. You can also join relevant groups to your interest and start interacting with other users exchanging ideas and information.

The sooner you start building your LinkedIn network, the earlier you’re going to be able to find a suitable job. When a position is open in a particular company, there will be many LinkedIn users applying to it. Your only chance of standing out of the crowd is being well connected on this platform (you might get one of your connections to recommend you to one of theirs who might be working in this company you’re applying to).

In the many years of my online marketing journey, I’ve come to realize that nothing matters more than having good connections. Once you do, you’ll never have to worry about having a job or doing business ever again.

9. Jillian Hart from GeekChicSocial.com

jillianThe thing I like about LinkedIn is utilizing connections to find other connections and places of work you might not have known before. Also, based on what you write in your LinkedIn “skills” and job positions, there are job recommendations that are specified based on the keywords you insert. Make sure to use relevant keywords because companies pay big bucks to get their job openings in front of you to apply.

Also, as a college student, I have learned how important it is to join groups. I joined a social media group and I was able to give them my opinion on certain subjects and I received a message from someone who was in my field and was intrigued by what I said in my response of a subject thread. So take advantage of this resource because you never know who you’re going to meet.

You may also want to link your work and different websites you want to show off. Whether in the “websites” section of your profile or through statuses, it is helpful to show your work to your professional connections. My personal recommendation is to hook your blog up via Type Blog because it updates on others’ home newsfeed who have that application installed on their personal LinkedIn profiles.

Lastly, condense your job descriptions so it’s not the same as your resume. More than likely, employers who receive your resume will also check you out on LinkedIn and they might not be impressed that your job description is taken word for word from your resume. Make it unique.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 167 posts on Tech and Project.

Shahzad Saeed is a graduate student and founder of this blog TechandProject.com He used to give tips for students who want to participate on international science fairs and student project programs including Google Summer of Code. You can follow Shahzad on @twitter and Facebook

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8 Responses to “Expert Advice- How College Student Must Use LinkedIn for Networking”

  1. Melissa Giovagnoli Says:

    Love this article. So glad to see this help for them.

  2. Kim Randall Says:

    What an honor to have been interviewed for this post. LinkedIn is a hugs, mostly overlooked platform that college students need to take more seriously.

  3. Bhargavi Budi Says:

    liked it….worth mentioned…