At 150 million members and growing, LinkedIn gives users access to a huge network of professional opportunities, connections and job-related resources. Yet in order to truly leverage the site, you’ve got to use it properly. A completed profile is critical, but so is ongoing participation in the site. If you’re a recent grad, put the following LinkedIn tasks on your high priority list!
Write (or revise) your profile headline. As with any type of headline, your LinkedIn profile headline is your first opportunity to grab users and entice them to continue reading your profile. Let people know what you want them to remember about you. If you’re an engineer with a specific emphasis on, say, power, or wastewater, mention that in your headline. By summarizing a few of your top skills and interests in your headline, you instantly give people a snapshot of your expertise and give them a reason to continue reading about you.
Make sure your profile is complete. This seems like a no-brainer, but completing a LinkedIn profile can be somewhat of a chore. After all, it’s difficult to write about yourself! But it’s critical to make sure you’re presenting a complete picture to your connections and prospective employers. Explain your work or internship experience in detail so users get a thorough grasp of what you’ve done—and what you bring to the table. Add skills and specialties, which will boost the SEO (that’s search engine optimization) of your profile and help you appear higher in LinkedIn search results. You can also include volunteer and philanthropic experience on your profile, a great way to illustrate your commitment to your community and highlight what you’ve learned as a result of these experiences. Ask a couple of colleagues or professors to write a recommendation for you (and be sure to return the favor). The more information you can deliver in your profile, the more effective your LinkedIn presence will be.
Customize your invitations. Part of your time on LinkedIn should be spent expanding your network. And when you invite someone to connect, take just a few seconds to add a personal message, instead of LinkedIn’s default request. Why do you want to connect with that person? Let him or her know, or use the message to remind your prospective connection how you met. This is a little act that makes a big difference, and shows your connection that you care enough about the relationship to send a personal message.
Use LinkedIn for research. Most people immediately think of LinkedIn for networking and job seeking. Yet the site can also be a powerful research tool. If you’re headed to a job interview, use LinkedIn to gather information about the company and its employees. If you have a meeting with someone, see if that person is on LinkedIn. Then you can slip personal details into the conversation, thereby establishing a more memorable connection. Plus, LinkedIn also offers an extensive library of industry-related content, so spend some time reading the day’s top headlines (which you can specify depending on your interests), as well as the updates posted by those in your network.
Participate. As with any social network, you’ll have more success with LinkedIn if you participate in the site. Regularly post content to your status updates. Join Groups and connect with fellow alumni, those in your same field of study and other industry professionals. Once you’ve joined a few groups, LinkedIn will even do the work for you and suggest groups that you may be interested in joining. Be sure you regularly update your profile, too, to reflect new jobs, skills, volunteer experience and other pertinent information. After all, your career is likely in a constant state of growth, and your LinkedIn profile should reflect that professional evolution.
If you’re a recent college grad, we’d love to hear how you’re using LinkedIn to build your professional network and seek out job opportunities. And if you’re interested in a career at Burns & McDonnell, be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn!