How To Use LinkedIn To Stand Out Among the Crowd: Professional Social Network Hacks That Work

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According to a recent Mashable article, 37 percent of surveyed job recruiters identify social (professional) networks as one of the most important sources for hiring. Additionally, 90 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s corporate talent solutions to find future hires. Whether you are about to graduate, just started classes, or are somewhere in between: you must seriously consider utilizing LinkedIn as a career tool!

I often have undergrads asking what the difference is between LinkedIn and Facebook, as they see it as ‘just another social network.’ That notion could not be further from the truth. Facebook is more about establishing personal relationships, while LinkedIn is more about conducting business.

Profile Basics

As you enter your profile details, do not think of your LinkedIn profile as an online resume, it goes beyond that. LinkedIn allows you to create a profile that can showcase projects you have worked on that relate to your career and goals. It also allows you to use keywords that align with what you currently do, what you have done in the past, and what you ultimately want to do in the future. Thus making you “findable.”

You can visually illustrate your skills with rich media, such as pictures, video, projects, or even a presentation you’re especially proud of. Include these if they are professional and relate to your overall goals and career aspirations. Help recruiters visualize what type of talent you bring to the table.

As you set up your profile, know you can come back and add to it and tweak it as well. Remember:

1. Post a photo! Use a professional headshot if possible.
2. Professional presentation is important on LinkedIn, but do not omit all of your personality. LinkedIn is a social network- creating personal connections is important. Also important is engagement and relevancy.
3. Consider your goals. Think long and hard on this as these goals will shape how you create and maintain your profile. LinkedIn offers some suggestions here. Are you looking for a job, are you creating a personal brand, are you making connections now for when you graduate and/or change careers?

By now I hope you see the importance of a LinkedIn profile. Take a moment to click on the hyperlinks within this post and bookmark them for later reading. A great article to start with from U.S. News that outlines some great tips can be found here.

Groups and Connecting with Thought Leaders

Not only does LinkedIn allow you to post your own profile, you can view others and connect. Unlike Facebook, connecting with folks you do not actually know is not seen as ‘creepy.’ It is a great personal branding tool for students to post relevant information, a photo, and interests, as well as connect with those in their industry. In addition, LinkedIn offers many groups that are industry specific that can be used as a sounding board, for advice and even support. For example, you may be interested in the SNHU Alumni Group or the Graphic Design Group. Search LinkedIn for your particular industry.

LinkedIn groups are a great way to engage directly with others in your industry and establish yourself as an active contributor rather than a passive spectator. Mashable suggests one of the best ways to get noticed is to participate in conversations and ask smart questions. Be professional and do a bit of research (or at the very least a Google search) before you ask a question.

Connect with your friends, current and past co-workers, professors and industry leaders; always remember you are judged by the company you keep!

Recommendations and Endorsements

A recommendation from someone in your desired field speaks volumes to your ability to stand out from the crowd. Seek recommendations from those who have a good sense of your work ethic and accomplishments. Those you ask for a recommendation will have to write a bit, so keep that in mind. Alternatively, an ‘endorsement’ is achievable with a simple click. Note it is common practice to reciprocate an ‘endorsement.’

Research

Always check out the pages of your targeted employers, or those you will interview with. By visiting company pages, you can conduct valuable research on the business, its policies and more. This kind of company research on LinkedIn can help keep you ahead of your competition. You may also discover an internship in your research. Several companies list these wonderful opportunities on LinkedIn.

Get Started: Focus on the value you bring to a potential employer.

The Huffington Post suggests that having a LinkedIn profile in an age of technology is absolutely crucial for college students. Utilize these (free) tools LinkedIn provides to brand yourself as the employee the company you want to work for will WANT. It does not happen overnight, but the connections you make will prove to be a great source of support, information and encouragement.

There are multiple tutorials on how to use LinkedIn efficiently for various purposes. Click and save to your bookmarks:

LinkedIn for Students

LinkedIn Guide and Checklist

Again, Be sure to click the hyperlinks within this post! The curated links will assist you in crafting the most effective profile for LinkedIn. Please do not hesitate to connect with me at any of my social touch points!photo credit: Graela via photopin cc

The underutilization of LinkedIn and Twitter among Undergraduate students


I imagine a college senior would have given a bit of thought as to what they want to do for a career, where they aspire to work, and how they might accomplish this. I have noticed an alarming trend of undergrads not utilizing LinkedIn and Twitter for networking and personal branding purposes.

Both of these social media platforms offer so much to students (and non-students)! Through Twitter a user is able to search the social networking site using industry specific words to read posts, links, and even discover who the thought leaders are for the industry. The user can follow these folks and also communicate directly with them! For example, a simple search using #smm would reveal all posts related to SMM (AKA social media marketing) using that hashtag (#) or the top posts (you choose). After viewing the posts, one can browse, follow, and network. This is a very useful took for those looking to network with others in the same field or identify those you may wish to work for/with.

The same is true for LinkedIn. This professional networking site allows you to post and view profiles. It is a great personal branding tool for students who can post relevant information, a photo, Twitter ID, and blog site etc. A wonderful feature Twitter has is that the user can make connections and be introduced thru their existing network. In addition, LinkedIn offers many groups that are industry specific that can be used as a sounding board, advice, and even support. The Texas Young Professionals group would be a great place to start for my Texas students!

I am bothered by how many of my undergraduate students do not have a LinkedIn account. It is even more alarming that some still have not started accounts after my suggestions to do so. I do not think it is wise for a college student to rely on a “job fair” or browsing the internet for open positions. Students need to be a lot more proactive than that. Open a LinkedIn account and Twitter account and USE THEM! Utilize these tools to brand yourself as the employee the company you want to work for will WANT. Please post a photo and really think about your brand and overall goals. It does not happen over night, but the connections you make will prove to be a great source of support, information, and encouragement. Who knows you may discover an awesome internship! I see posts everyday listing amazing opportunities.

A great book on Twitter is “The Tao of Twitter” by Mark Schaefer. This book is a quick read (about 90 pages) and highlights why and how you should use Twitter for both your business and personal branding. It is a Great read! For more on LinkedIN, I suggest “Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn: An Unofficial, Step-by-Step Guide to Creating & Implementing Your LinkedIn Brand – Social Networking in a Web 2.0 World” by Neal Schaffer.

Visit the following sites regarding LinkedIn and Twitter and your job search (which should begin way before your last semester). Both sites offer a wealth of information:
1. Ten ways to use LinkedIn to find a job
2. Career Enlightenment

Other sites to help “brand” yourself for success:
* How to Empower Yourself on the New LinkedIn
* How to Find a Job using Social Media
* Blogging for Dummies: An Opportunity for Personal Branding
* Writing Your Personal Brand Bio When You Change Careers
* Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Personal Brand
* LinkedIn Strategies for Personal Branding
* How to Market Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn (INFOGRAPHIC)

photo credit: Kevin H. via photopin cc