3 Tips for Getting Started on LinkedIn

If you are reading this, you have heard about LinkedIn, but you haven’t created a profile yet. You might think that it’s too early to create a profile on LinkedIn – you are just a student and you don’t have that much experience. Guess what? This is the perfect time for you to start slowly building and developing your online brand and LinkedIn is the best place to start.

Getting started with LinkedIn

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Take time to build your profile.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and your LinkedIn profile will change and evolve over time.  The most important thing is to try and create a profile that accurately represents your professional identity.

If you are a student actively seeking an internship, your profile should reflect that intention.  Some students try and create a profile that, at first glance, looks just like the profile of a seasoned professional. Do not try and be something that you are not.

To get started, add your education plus any current and recent jobs and internships. Be sure to indicate your title and the company/organization name. You can also add in details about each position when you are ready. Keep it simple and to the point.

If you have an appropriate picture you want to upload, feel free to include it. Your picture does not need to be a professional headshot, but it should be a picture that you would be comfortable sharing with a future boss (no selfies!).

Have someone you know and trust, like a mentor or career advisor, review your profile before you add new connections. Before you go public, customize your profile URL.

Take time to review the other options to enhance your profile and you can continue to add to it over time. Just like your resume, your LinkedIn profile is never really “done” – it is a work in progress, constantly being updated. Once you build your connections, you can also view other profiles of colleagues and peers that you admire for inspiration.

Be intentional.

LinkedIn profiles feature a “headline” that can be used in a variety of ways. Some professionals use it to indicate a specific title or position held, while others use it to indicate a brief summary or professional pitch.

Student profiles might feature a headline such as “Student with a passion for food, writing, and social media. Currently seeking internship in creative field,” or “Recent college graduate with extensive experience in online marketing and PR.”  Creating an informative headline will allow contacts in your network to better assist you with your search.

Another important feature to include is a summary statement that mentions your academic background, major, experience, and interests. Consider this summary statement to be similar to being asked on an interview, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” You may also want to add some information about any technical or language skills that you possess.

Many students add a line about how they are actively seeking professionals to connect with in order to conduct informational interviews and learn more about a particular industry. You can consider adding this as a way to demonstrate your interest in networking.

Skip the canned message and get personal.

Now that you have your basic profile set up, start to connect with professionals in your network. As a student, you will want to connect with classmates, faculty, co-workers, family, and friends.

Making connections on LinkedIn allows you to practice your professional etiquette. When you request to connect with another contact, LinkedIn provides a template message.  Instead of sending this template message, write a personalized message to the person to let them know that you would like to stay connected with them through LinkedIn and mention how you know one another.

Once you get into the habit of sending these personalized messages, it will become second-nature.

When people in your network connect with you, take a look at their profiles to see how they organized information and view the groups they have joined. You may share similar interests and want to join the same groups to grow and expand your network.

Next steps.

Over time, you will be able to use LinkedIn for your job search in a variety of ways. Now that you have a profile all set up, you have an appropriate way to connect with professionals and manage those relationships. So get out there and start networking!

Do you have other tips and advice to how to get started on LinkedIn?  Have you seen any creative headlines that make candidates stand out? Share below!

About the Author

Jenna Campolieta facilitates an Internship Seminar for Eugene Lang students at the New School in New York City. You can follow her on twitter at @jennacamp.

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