The conversation was wonderful, and it helped me realize that a lot of students are intimidated, confused, and unsure about using LinkedIn when they're young. So I wanted to ease your fears and give you five steps to start using LinkedIn in ways that can help you right now!
Note: If this is the first time you're hearing about LinkedIn, it's essentially a Facebook for professionals. It's more about developing job opportunities, less about sharing funny cat meme's (thought feel free to share them with me because I love them).
- Build your profile. Have a friend take a nice headshot of you in professional clothing for this profile picture. For your title, list "'student' or, if you know your major, '_____ major' at [insert your college here]. For the rest, visit your college career center and ask them to help you build a resume, and then use that to build your LinkedIn profile.
- Find a mentor in your desired industry and ask him/her to look over your LinkedIn profile and give you advice on how you can tailor your current experiences to be attractive to company's where you'd like to intern.
- Use LinkedIn's advanced people search and play around with entering things in the keyword, title, company, and industry boxes that relate to what you are interested in. Do not limit yourself by location initially, and just read the profiles of people who have jobs you might like so you can learn where they got their start, what they majored in, and how their career has progressed. It will teach you a lot about the paths you can take.
- Use the advanced people search again and this time look for people in jobs you'd like who live near you. Learn as much as you can about them in a general online search, and then send them a personal request to connect as a friend, telling them briefly why you admire them and that you want to learn from them. You can then follow the steps in the post I wrote about how to find a professional mentor.
- Join LinkedIn groups related with your desired industry and get involved in the discussions. Joining these groups sometimes gives you access to message some group members directly (great way to find mentors). Groups will also help you stay up to date on industry news (very impressive for a college student), and learn about job opportunities. The best way to find groups to join is look at the profiles of people who are in jobs you're interested in and scroll down their profile to see which groups they are a part of - then join them!
I'd be happy to be your first LinkedIn connection! Once you've built your profile you can request to connect with me here; just tell me you're a blog reader and I'll accept.
Happy LinkedIn'ing ;)