First thing’s first… never confuse LinkedIn with Twitter or Facebook. LinkedIn is social networking used by professionals for professional purposes. Essentially LinkedIn is your online CV and it is a tool that employers are now using to recruit. With 120 million members worldwide it holds a lot of networking potential! LinkedIn profiles appear high up in Google searches so make the most of this and really sell yourself.
Creating your profile
Step one is to create your LinkedIn profile. It is important to have a picture in which you are well dressed and looking smart (no drunken snaps). It is also important to have a catchy headline that will make people want to read about you. Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct throughout your profile and remember to sell your achievements without sounding too arrogant. Update your profile regularly as you gain new jobs and experiences. The hard work does not stop once you have created your LinkedIn profile, the next step is to utilise the group functions and to add connections.
You can start off by adding friends and family but do bear in mind the principal of being professional, anything social is better off on Facebook or Twitter. Add connections from part time work, work and volunteering as well as extra curricular activities. Consider asking your lecturers to connect as are likely to be well connected to graduate recruiters. Use the search box and ‘people you may know’ function to add connections. It is important on LinkedIn to only connect to people you know or to connect via a mutual connection. Graduate recruiters will tend to ignore requests from people they do not know but you can follow the company instead. Also remember to build relationships with your contacts rather than asking them directly if they have jobs. Connections can endorse you for skills and also write recommendations. Recruiters will look for evidence of your skills so endorsements and recommendations can be key. Endorse and recommend your contacts too, this is only fair.
Join relevant groups on LinkedIn to keep up with industry and local developments. Discussion threads allow you to comment and read comments of people established in your industry. Use groups to share any relevant articles and insights. Once people start to see you commenting they may add you as a connection if they are impressed by your knowledge. Networking events are also often advertised on LinkedIn groups so get yourself along to these and meet the people in person that you are connecting with online.
Remember that having a LinkedIn profile does not guarantee job offers. In fact if your profile is incomplete you may put recruiters off so do pay attention to it and update it regularly. However LinkedIn is a great way to make sure that you skills and experiences are in the public sphere and that recruiters are aware of you.