No doubt you've heard that social media and networking is so important. According to an article by Morrison and Foerster, people spend roughly 18 per cent of their online time on social media sites. While more popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr likely make up most of that 18 per cent, we must also make time for social media to promote ourselves as highly capable students and emerging young professionals.
LinkedIn is unique as a professional social networking site and is underutilized, in my humble opinion. With only 13 per cent of those with social media having an account, it is smaller in terms of number of accounts, but can open up larger opportunities when used correctly.
Similar to Facebook, individuals create profiles. Instead of the profile being made to showcase your social activities, it's made to showcase your skills and experiences. It enables you to connect with other LinkedIn members and groups, which builds your professional online network of friends, classmates, partners, and colleagues.
LinkedIn uses your network, (meaning your company, industry, or school), and contacts in your existing email account to find and display profiles of people you may know. Check this out regularly so you can continue to grow the number of connections you have and expand your network.
When potential employers and colleagues are looking for individuals to connect to, you can bet they are looking for a profile that is complete, which is why I can't stress enough how important it is to fill in your profile entirely. LinkedIn is essentially free advertising, so take advantage of it! LinkedIn offers a formatted resume version of your LinkedIn profile, so you can easily distribute a physical copy of your resume.
The site offers different ways of connecting with others. Connecting and following groups, for example, enables LinkedIn members to receive the latest news from other individuals in their field. For example, I follow a group that regularly post jobs related to my expertise. These groups are an easy way to network and stay up-to-date in your industry.
LinkedIn is unique, as you're notified when someone checks our your profile; (you can disable this, but you'll also be unable to see who viewed your profile). This open version of creeping may seem strange, but it's always interesting to see how effective your profile is in attracting potential connections and employers.
LinkedIn Premium has more features than the free version of LinkedIn, but paying for these additional services is not entirely feasible for most students. It's roughly $40 a month to show everyone who has viewed your profile and to find out how they found you, as well as having access to InMail to message those outside of your network.
The more connections you have in your field, the better, so be sure to message potential connections and invite them to connect with you. This is a whole new level of networking; in order to get the job you want, be sure to take advantage of every avenue you can!
Rachel Legaspi is a recent graduate of McGill University's master of information studies program, where she specialized in Knowledge Management. Prior to this, she graduated cum laude from the University of Ottawa with a joint honours in history and political science. While Rachel's first love will always be learning, she also enjoys making music and playing sports, (especially fastball). She hopes that by contributing to this blog, she will provide useful insight on technologies that can assist readers in finding jobs and careers.