A good friend and fellow blogger came to me one day with inspiration: “I have the perfect blog idea for you… What you should and shouldn’t do on LinkedIn!” (You can check out her blog here)
I loved the idea from the moment she said it, and I knew I had to do something about all the college students and grads buzzing around asking if LinkedIn was really even necessary.
While I was trying to figure out what kind of post to write regarding LinkedIn, another good friend mentioned that he uses LinkedIn everyday for recruiting, and that people need to learn the difference between LinkedIn and Facebook – Lightbulb!
So, college students and grads, here it is. The difference between LI and FB.
First, let me start by saying that, yes, if you plan to do anything with your life, in any field, you should have a LinkedIn. Networking is the most important part of the real world, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a CEO, or a volunteer for a non-profit — LinkedIn is key.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn, you’ve probably heard others explain that, “LinkedIn is just like Facebook, but professional.” And you’ve probably wondered, what the hell does that mean?
While it’s true that LI and FB are similar social networking sites, there’s a big difference about what you should and should not be posting. Here are a few key elements that will take your LinkedIn from sloppy to successful:
To start, make sure you do have a picture set to your profile. Whoever is looking at your profile might not necessarily know you personally, but they are looking at your LI for a reason – and they want to be able to put a face to the name. Your picture should be of you and only you. You should also be dressed professionally. I cannot even describe the types of pictures I’ve seen – guys in tees and basketball shorts, bathroom mirror selfies, and even girls in their bikinis on the beach. I wish I was making this stuff up. Sure, you can connect with friends/fellow classmates on LinkedIn, but for the most part, you’re going to have professional networks, recruiters, and possible employers/interviewers checking out your LinkedIn. To be taken seriously, you have to look the part.
While there’s always a debate about what you should and should not be posting to the LI newsfeed, my advice is to just keep it simple and again, professional. Recently read a good article that wasn’t posted on TMZ or Buzzfeed? Awesome, give it a share to your LI! Others will love to see that you’re keeping up-to-date with relevant topics, and that they can even start a discussion with you about it. Find an inspiring or encouraging quote? Go ahead and post, everyone likes a little uplift in their work day. Do not post a status update about your dog, your crappy morning that lead to you being late, or your weekend at the bar with friends. Save that stuff for FB.
Your Professional Headline.
If you’re still in college, it’s okay for your headline to read, “Full-time student at COLLEGE NAME HERE” or “Receiving BA in MAJOR HERE at COLLEGE NAME HERE”. But, if you’re a college grad searching for that first job or if you’re currently in between jobs, your tagline should read “Freelance…. something”. After graduation and before my first job, my headline read, “Freelance writing and event planning”. Whatever your field/industry, turn it into something you could do without having a solid job – and try to keep it along the same lines as the types of jobs you’re applying for.
Your Experience (aka your past and present jobs).
You should be listing any jobs that are relevant to your career. This means internships, too. I tend to refrain from posting my eight years of waitress/bartending experience – but I’ve also heard employers say that they don’t mind seeing it – so that’s up to you. However, that burger joint you worked at in high school or that ice cream bar you so diligently served soft serve from, can probably be kept off the list. Unless you were a manager at one of these places, it’s better to keep your irrelevant jobs in the past.
I’ve seen the most boring summaries before, where people just list their names and degrees or careers. Eh, that’s what the rest of your LI page is for. This is the space to be creative, show your stuff! Use quotes, exemplify what kind of person you are and why connections should keep scrolling down your page. Be unique! Here is a perfect example of one of my own LinkedIn connections’ summary:
“I like green eggs and ham! I like them Sam I Am!” -Dr. Seuss
Did you know the entire book of Green Eggs and Ham is about trying new things? The moral is to try new things; you might like them and find them successful. In marketing I have learned to try new tactics, because a lot of the time, they end in awesome results. If you have never tried creating a marketing message in a new way, try it! Use it once or twice and measure the response. Tweak it, hone it, improve upon it until its perfect: Try the green eggs and ham!
Yes, Dr. Suess may have some crazy rhymes and guys drawn in his books. However, if you look at the core of his thoughts and words, the man was brilliant. I think he can teach us some great lessons in regard to social media, marketing, and advertising.
She then continues to list her college education, her degree, her passion, and what sets her apart. You see that? Do that.
Grammar and Accuracy.
The same friend, mentioned in the intro, who uses LI for recruiting and headhunting, made a good point – your LI profile is basically a virtual resume. It’s important that your information be up-to-date, even if it’s as simple as a new organization you’ve joined, a new skill you’ve acquired, or a new responsibility in a position you’ve received. If it’s relevant to your professional world, it’s useful for your LI page. Also, make sure your spelling and grammar is on point! You don’t want to miss out on an amazing opportunity just because you weren’t careful in your word usage or spell check.
Utilize Your LinkedIn in Every Possible Way.
You should have at least 10 skills listed, if not more. Endorse others’ skills because 90% of the time, they’ll endorse you back. Write recommendations – not only are you helping fellow LinkedIn-ers, but you’re also showing your face on their page for others to see. List your organizations, write about your interests, and be sure to include a contact for others to reach you! Personally, I include “Find me on LinkedIn” at the top of my resume and at the bottom of my emails – this way professionals that I’m communicating with know that they can connect with me instantly, and more importantly, stay connected.
While business cards aren’t dead to the world yet, LinkedIn is sure to take over within the next couple of years. Every time I receive someone’s business card, I typically add them on LinkedIn right away, and then toss the card in the trash or in a cluttered desk drawer. I’m never going to go back and look through a pile of business cards to find a name and number; I’d much rather be able to put a face to the name, along with all their info, and have it all on one simple database. So, if you haven’t joined LinkedIn yet, do it now! And if you’re on LinkedIn and need to amp up your profile, get to work! LinkedIn is important and the sooner you’re connected, the sooner your can start creating relationships with those who may just help further your career!
Check out the author’s personal LinkedIn page here. If you have any questions, need help with your LinkedIn, or just want to share your own ideas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.