Facebook is that place you tell family stories about anything and everything. Twitter is that place you connect with the world and search #IkoKaziKE for internship opportunities. Instagram is where you become a celeb thanks to the filters and everything else. However, LinkedIn is like your CV that you use to introduce yourself to prospective employers. Here are five ways in which you can enhance your LinkedIn profile before you start networking.
1. A Good LinkedIn Profile Picture and Job Description are Important
Your profile picture is the first thing that anyone visiting your LinkedIn sees while your job descriptions are the second thing. If you upload a ratchet profile picture, serious employers will never check you out. You will be attracting ratchet people who want to take advantage of you instead of valuing your expertise.
Secondly, a good profile picture with a “xaxa” “c u” type of language in your job descriptions is repulsive to prospective employers. Your goal is to convince employers that all of your professional, extracurricular, and volunteer experiences have provided you with skills that make you a more valuable employee. So think of your job descriptions as a persuasive English paper. They should be well-worded and to the point.
2. Most Important Experience should be upfront and prominent.
As students, it’s likely that a lot of our relevant experience comes from student organizations. However, the format of a LinkedIn profile doesn’t cater directly to students, so it doesn’t give extracurricular activities a large spot on your page.
If a student organization experience is important to you, then list it either under “Experience” or “Volunteer Experience”. That way, it will be listed front and center on your profile for everyone to see, instead of hidden somewhere in Education.
3. Use your Networking Experience as a Learning Experience
Every opportunity is a learning opportunity and do not be rigid about your profile. Always be ready to search the profiles of people you admire and learn from them with regards to how they have structured their profiles.
The good news is everyone already has networks. The goal is to brainstorm how you may use existing contacts from all areas of life towards your professional goals. It could be that one or more members of your communities are in the field(s) you are interested in.
Linkedin is one particularly effective tool for networking because you may join groups of mutual interest, use the University tool to search for alumni who are in industries you are interested in, and because the system tells you how you are mutually connected, and at what level, so you may leverage your 1st level connections (strong ties) to introduce you to 2nd level connections (weak ties) and so on.
4. Be Selective About who you Endorse
One of the most important features of LinkedIn is endorsements. Employers often review endorsements when they review LinkedIn profiles. These employers look for endorsements critical to the job or to skills you highlighted in other aspects of your professional presentation.
Be careful about the skills you want people to endorse you for an also be extra careful about who you endorse. Only endorse people after you have seen them in action because that is the only way you can be sure that they can perform that task. It’s okay to endorse friends, but don’t get carried away. Quality is important, and multiple endorsements from one person start to look cheap. It’s better to be honest and let them grow organically over time.
5. Personalized Messages are Effective in Creating Networks
Every time you send out a request to connect, LinkedIn always gives you the option of personalizing the invitation message. Do not ignore this suggestion because it gives you an opportunity to connect with the other person on an individual level.
Many people are reticent to offer up access at this level unless there is a good reason to do so. So, including a personalized message when sending an invitation request substantially increases the likelihood someone will accept it.
You don’t need to write a full-on letter or anything. Simply say, “Hello! I’m a student pursuing a career in sports management (or whatever field) and I am very interested in your work. I would love to connect and learn more about what you do!” That simple message speaks volumes about why you want to connect with them.