Updated: Jan 5, 2020
Networking is vital throughout your entire professional career and can help you in many ways including introducing you to other professionals in your field, connecting you with seasoned professionals from whom you can learn, and even connecting you with professionals who can help you get a job or get further along in a job hiring process. While networking can happen in person at job fair events, work events and more, networking can also be done digitally. Connecting with others in a digital environment makes having a solid professional brand even more important! What's a professional brand you ask?! Check out this previous blog post for more information on that. Let's get started! Check out the following to get started networking online in no time!
LinkedIn is the most commonly used online professional networking site. While it's still helpful to have a physical business card to hand someone whom you've just met or connected with professionally, the number one way professionals connect after an initial meeting is through LinkedIn! Once you find the person you're looking for, you can view their professional profile (as long as they set the profile to public) and immediately gain a better understanding of their professional experience and background. You can learn about a prospective employer by researching the profiles of staff. You can learn more about someone you just connected with. You can also learn more about someone you would like to ask to be a mentor for you or to help you with a specific professional goal. In order to receive the full benefits of LinkedIn, you need to set up your own professional profile so that others may connect with you and learn about your skills and experience. Below are 6 key steps to getting started with LinkedIn.
Let's Get Started!
Go to www.linkedin.com and sign up for a free account. Make sure to use an email address that you check frequently so that when you receive messages and updates that you see them promptly.
1. Cover Photo
Don't just use any old photo of yourself. This should be a photo that represents you as a professional. While you don't need to wear a full suit in the photo, refrain from non-professional attire such as swimwear, shorts & tshirt, etc. Most commonly, people use a headshot photo rather than full length. It can be color or black and white and should only include you in the photo, not friends or significant others, pets, etc.
This is a brief overall summary of your experience, employment or career goals. You can show some of your personality here. Great place to list that you are seeking employment and in which field and/or specific job role.
- "Seeking an internship in the field of ___________________."
- "Interested in gaining experience and connecting with other professionals in the field of _______________."
Overall, the information listed here should match closely to what you list on your professional resume and job applications. It is a good rule of thumb to be consistent across all job application materials in regards to your employment history that you share. In this Experience section, you can list all of your past jobs OR list only those jobs related to your chosen career. It can be quite helpful to list all of your jobs on LinkedIn because it shows your overall work history and whether you had continual employment over a long period of time. If you feel you have too many short-term jobs or sporadic employment (which is quite common for recent graduates and young professionals) feel free to only list related work experience.
For each of the jobs you list, you should write a brief description of your work or tasks completed and highlight advanced skills or work completed. No need to provide multiple paragraphs of descriptions for each job but write enough so that the reader will have a good understanding of the overall work that you completed. Again, this information should closely match what you have listed on your resume. The good news is that you can copy/paste much of the wording and key terms that you use on your resume for the job descriptions on LinkedIn.
List all post secondary schools you have attended, or are currently attending, and any certificates and/or degrees that you have received. If you are currently in school and have not graduated yet, a common way to describe your current situation is by listing the "Expected date of graduation: 2017". For many job and internship opportunities, a degree is not needed but coursework towards a degree is highly valuable and can set you apart from other applicants. Regarding GPA, a good rule of thumb is that if your overall GPA is 3.5 or above, you should list it as part of your Education section. If your GPA is lower than 3.5, feel free to leave it off your profile.
This is a section where you can provide examples of the breadth of your experience and interests. The point of this section is to list words or phrases that match your skills or experience and your connections on LinkedIn can endorse you for one or more skills. This is a good way to allow others to highlight skills that you have. Great examples of common skills for young professionals include: leadership, volunteering, teamwork, public speaking, giving presentations, customer service, etc.
There are a couple other sections to pay attention to on your LinkedIn profile including Awards/Honors and Groups. Toot your own horn and list awards and honors that you've received! You've earned them so share that information with others! Regarding Groups, this is a great way to connect with others in your chosen career field or with similar interests to you. Once you join a group, you can follow content that is shared by its members and you can share content with those members as well. Leveraging groups can help you get connected with others for job searches, career advice, mentoring, and even just learning more about the latest happenings in your career field. Examples of Groups to get started with include: Groups for your current or past school/university/college, groups for your volunteer organizations and groups for your chosen career path.
Networking is vital throughout your entire professional career! Make sure you take advantage of the technology and tools, such as Linkedin, that are available to get you connected with prospective employers and other professionals in your career field.
* If you're not on LinkedIn, sign up today and create your free professional profile!
* Follow steps 1-6 above to get your profile completed and start connecting with others in your chosen career field!
* Expand your use of LinkedIn through Groups and sharing information by posting article links or writing your own articles to share.
Stay tuned for more details, advice, and tips from That Purple Book. Connect with That Purple Book across social media @ThatPurpleBook
Connect with me at Sarah@ThatPurpleBook.com with questions.