If I were to Google search your name right now, what would I find? What would your top three search results be? Is your LinkedIn profile one of them?
If LinkedIn isn’t appearing at the top of your search results, it’s time to change that. Why? Because why not take advantage of (free) access to one of the most powerful professional networking tools that can positively impact your future career path?
According to LinkedIn’s website, they currently have over 562 million users worldwide. That tells you it’s the place to be. The place to build and grow relationships with fellow alumni and professionals in your field of interest. The place to search for new opportunities throughout your career. And the place for recruiters and employers to vet you and gain confidence in their decision to bring you on to their team.
I’m guessing that you’ve been told about LinkedIn before, and deep down you know you should create a LinkedIn profile. But for whatever reason, you just haven’t gotten around to creating it yet. Maybe you think you don’t have enough professional experience yet, maybe you’d rather just endlessly scroll the gram, or maybe you’re waiting until you start job hunting senior year because you don’t see the value in starting now.
The reality is, you should get started on LinkedIn now. (If you’re reading this and you’re in high school, get a head start and thank yourself later.) Start pulling the basic pieces of your profile together and continue to fill in the gaps as you go. Your goal is to have a professional presence online so that you are discoverable and credible when you start your internship journey.
Getting Started as a Student on LinkedIn
Little to no professional experience at this point? No problem. High level, here’s what you should include on your LinkedIn profile to get started:
- Education info
- Clubs, societies, honors earned
- Experience (internships, part-time & summer jobs, volunteer work)
- Skills (less juggling, more specific video editing for example)
If you want my detailed recommendations, templates and step-by-step instructions for creating and optimizing your LinkedIn profile as a student, I created a free resource that you can snag here.
Helpful Network Features for a Student on LinkedIn
Once you’ve cleared the hurdle of creating your LinkedIn profile, you can start to explore the network and take advantage of its many features. There are a few that are especially beneficial to someone just starting out.
- Alumni Tool: Accessible through your University’s LinkedIn page, this tool is an awesome way to easily identify alumni in your area, field of interest, or dream company.
- Groups: Search by area of interest and read descriptions on the various groups that have been formed for professional networking on LinkedIn. Then start joining relevant groups and engaging with fellow members.
- Company Pages: Have a short list of companies that you’d love to intern for? Chances are they all have a company page. Check them out, read up on their employees and stay up to date on their latest news. It’s important to do your research for that future interview you hope to land.
Days four and five of my free LinkedIn resource for students, will walk you through all of these helpful LinkedIn features.
Making Connections as a Student on LinkedIn
Don’t go crazy and start adding people just so you look like the popular kid on the block. Be intentional, and add people that would easily recognize you and be happy to connect. You just have to start somewhere, and the network will continue to grow organically as you move throughout your career. Some initial connections you can make include:
- Close family friends
- Professors that you have a solid relationship with
- Teammates and coaches
- Fellow club or society members
- Professionals you recently met at a networking event
Already established your base of initial connections and want to know how to expand your network by connecting with people you don’t personally know yet? Day four of my LinkedIn video series gives you some ideas and some sample messages you can use when reaching out to connect.
Regardless of where you are at in your journey, building and maintaining a solid professional presence on LinkedIn is never a bad idea. I don’t care what industry you are in or hoping to be a part of someday, LinkedIn gives you control over your professional brand and is a vehicle for you to build and maintain relationships throughout your career. What are you waiting for?