Why is it important for students to have a LinkedIn account? It’s important because LinkedIn is the ultimate business social networking tool right now. With over 100 million users all with the same purpose-making business connections-you can’t afford to not have an account.
Here are my top ten steps for building a great LinkedIn profile:
1. Create the account via www.linkedin.com.
2. Be sure to customize your LinkedIn website URL (ex. LinkedIn.com/in/yourname). Remember, you are a brand, so it’s important to promote yourself. Plus, it makes it easier for others to find you.
3. Display an appropriate profile photo. LinkedIn is a business social networking tool – it’s not Facebook. Select a professional, high-quality headshot of you alone. If you can’t afford to have one taken, then ask a friend to help you. Remember to wear professional clothing.
4. Show off your education. Include information from all the educational institutions you’ve earned degrees from. If you have an Associate’s degree put it in, if you have a Bachelor’s from a different university or even from a different time, include it. Be sure to denote your major and minor if you have one, as well as highlights of your activities. It’s also appropriate to include study abroad programs and summer institutes. LinkedIn is where you need to show off what you’ve done. Include accomplishments such as:
- strong GPA
- study abroad
- organizations you belong to, esp. professional ones (like PRSSA)
- honors, awards, scholarships
- internships within your field of study
5. Write a keyword-rich description of yourself in your professional headline. It should be clear and impactful. If you are an e-board member, use that as your title. If you are a student studying PR, say something like “Public Relations major at Eastern Michigan University.” Using specific keywords based on expertise, location, awards, title, etc…will help future employers and those searching for someone with your talents find you.
6. Try to add all your connections. With Gmail and Yahoo! it’s easy to upload your contacts and even see who is on LinkedIn. Those that have accounts, you simply connect with.
7. Ask for recommendations. Ask from your peers, bosses, colleagues, and even your professors. Giving recommendations is a two-way street. You need to give them, too. Only give recommendations, though, if you truly feel the person is worthy of your recommendation. Don’t feel obligated to give them out. Recommendations go a long way, especially when employers are looking to hire. They read them!
8. Build links to your profile. Use your profile URL in your email signature, link to it from your website, when you comment on blog posts or news articles, and on your Twitter profile too. This helps your profile rank to be placed higher for searches with your name.
9. Update your status regularly. An excellent way to be noticed is by updating your status regularly. This also enhances your professional image as well. Tell people about events you’re attending, major projects you’ve completed, professional books you’re reading, or any other news that you would tell someone at a networking reception or on a quick catch-up phone call.
10. Show your connectedness to the PR profession with LinkedIn badges. Joining groups and displaying the group badges on your profile are excellent opportunities to not only fill out the professionalism of your profile, but to illustrate your desire to connect with your chosen profession.