I can remember going to a presentation my freshman year that was given by the Career Center. The topic of the presentation . . . Networking as a College Student- The Easiest Way to Find a Job!
I had some sense of what networking was, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it . . . I was a hardcore introvert. But I wanted a job, so I figured that I might as well try this networking thing since they were claiming it as the easiest way to find a job.
So I went to the presentation, sat and listened for about 45 minutes, then left. Their advice was useless, or at least that’s what my inner self was saying. I knew that the introvert in me would never be able to do any of the things they said, so I told myself, “screw this . . . what do they know.”
But really I just didn’t want to admit that I was an introvert and was too shy to approach new people.
So a couple days later, I found this website that can replace having to actually talk to someone face to face . . . Linkedin. Yeah, you all probably know what Linkedin is, so I’m not going to spend my time trying to convince you that it’s the best social media platform ever.
LinkedIn was perfect for me. I didn’t want to talk face-to-face, but I wanted to try out this cool networking thing. And LinkedIn made that easy for me.
Now fast forward 2 years, and all that networking put me in the DMs of Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon.
Pretty nice huh. Now, let me show you how I did it.
1) Build up your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is a significant part of your online presence and plays a huge role in your job search.
So it must . . . and I mean MUST be complete.
LinkedIn tells you which sections you haven’t completed, but they don’t tell you how to complete them. You can’t just write anything on your LinkedIn profile. It has to effectively tell people who you are while showing that you’re skilled at what you do.
Your profile photo is the first thing people see when they come to your profile, so it needs to be nice.
But wait, let me take a selfie . . . NO!
Don’t ever use a selfie for a LinkedIn profile pic, even if it’s in a professional outfit. It’s so tacky. All you need to do is find a friend, or a random person off the street, to take a simple picture of you.
Don’t over exaggerate your LinkedIn headline to convince people that you are more qualified and experienced than you actually are . . . The LinkedIn Effect!
Your headline should describe who you are, your skill set, and what you have experience in 120 characters. Some example headlines can be:
- “English Student with Volunteering and Management Experience”
- “An Introverted Extrovert that Blogs and Builds Websites”
- “Social worker specializing in early childhood development seeking entry-level counselor position”
Try to make your title interesting and enticing, while still showing your skill set. You’ve worked too hard for your title to simply be”Recent grad” or “College student looking for internships”.
This is my favorite section because LinkedIn offers you soooo much freedom when it comes to this. You can write about anything you want.
Yeah, it’s important to describe your professional side, but LinkedIn isn’t just professional. You must show people your non-professional side too.
Your LinkedIn bio should cover these points:
- Work experience related to your major/field
- Past non-work related experiences that helped develop you as a person
- Your unique-ness/what makes you different
And LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters total for your summary, so you’ll have plenty of space to cover it all.
But the summary is only a fraction of your entire LinkedIn profile. If you follow along, we’ll briefly cover the rest of the LinkedIn sections.
LinkedIn gives you the option of including your current and previous work experience. Well, it’s not really an option, because you NEED to include it. You can’t have a LinkedIn profile and leave out your work experience.
But don’t go the easy route, and copy n’ paste your experience directly from your resume. Your LinkedIn profile is meant to be an expanded and more detailed version of your resume.
Give lots of details about each work experience, so the person reading it can get a full idea of what you did.
This is probably the simplest part of your LinkedIn profile. However, there are few tips that I want to pass on to you.
Leave the grade section blank. By putting your academic year (freshman, sophomore, etc.), you’ll have to update it every year, since it doesn’t automatically update. This can be a hassle to some. Then when you graduate, you are probably going to remove your academic year, so you might as well leave it blank from the beginning.
Volunteer Experience and Organizations
These sections are similar to work experience where you write it like it’d be on your resume, but you describe in a lot more detail.
Describe everything YOU did in that organization in as much detail as possible. This is to show people how you are actually involved and if your actually doing stuff to help the community.
All I can say about this is you should put as many skills as you can. Recruiters and other people can search you by your skills. The more skills you have . . . the people who can find you on LinkedIn.
And a little secret, you don’t need to be an expert in a skill to list it on your profile. If you are somewhat experienced in a skill, then it is worth having on your profile.
Put all the courses you’ve taken that relate to your field or have offered you some transferable skills.
For example, I’m a computer science major, so I would put all my computer programming and technical classes. I would also put my math classes on here too (at least the higher level ones).
Courses like Public Speaking and Writing would also be great courses to list on your profile because they offer me some transferable skills that can be used on any job.
If you have any, then put them.
I would say that going out and getting certifications, just for your profile isn’t a good idea, but they can add some value to your profile.
This is where your network slightly comes into play. Ask your bosses, professors, past co-workers, church members, and even your friends to write a recommendation for you.
Other people are more likely to believe the goods things said about you if they come from other people versus if you were saying them about yourself.
2) Find your network
No matter who you are, you have a network of some sort that includes other people . . . unless you’ve been living in a box for the past year.
But on LinkedIn, your network is way bigger than your normal network.
Your normal network of people is usually your friends, family, classmates etc. On LinkedIn, your network is all that plus more. Your LinkedIn network includes the friends, family, classmates of your friends, of your family, and of your classmates.
Do you get the idea?
Your network includes all of their networks. So for example, my dad is in my network. Now let’s say he has a friend named Micheal. My dad’s friend Micheal is also in my network.
This is why LinkedIn is so big for networking because you can connect with so many people through a mutual connection you have with someone else.
But that’s not all.
LinkedIn allows you to expand your network even further with a word called alumni. You don’t even have to know them personally, but since they graduated from your university, they are automatically apart of your network.
I don’t know why that is, but its that way.
Here is the link to LinkedIn Alumni Page
3) Pitch Your Network
Networking on LinkedIn can be as simple as sending a short message to someone. But it’s important to have a plan for each message you send.
My freshman year I would send messages to upperclassmen students asking them for advice on how to get internships. The message followed this structure:
“Hi Joe Schmo, I a freshman computer science major and I came across your profile. I saw that you did an internship at XYZ company and I was wondering if you had any tips or advice for getting an internship.”
I sent that message to almost 30 upperclassmen and got like 20 responses back telling me all sorts of advice that I used to help get me interviews with some of the top companies in the world.
Now I know many of you may are probably past your first year in college, so you probably aren’t contacting upperclassmen for internship advice.
Now being that alumni are also apart of your network, you can send the messages asking for advice.
Here is the message I sent to alumni:
“Hi Alumni George, I’m a freshman computer science major at XYZ College. I came across your profile and saw that you are working at ZYX Company. That is one of the companies I am looking at for internships. What is your experience working there?”
Alumni are a great source for getting advice and LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to contact them. They love giving advice to current college students, and are always willing to help.
Now after saying all that, I’ve created a plan for you on what you can do to network on LinkedIn.
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW