Many people think it’s just some weird online dating forum for corporate people. And maybe it is! But for most of the time, LinkedIn can be a uni student’s golden ticket to a new job or a new connection to help kick start your career.
Maybe it sounds all too good to be true… “so you’re telling me that all I have to do is download an App on my phone and then I’ll get a job?!” Mmm, not exactly how it works but it definitely can help! LinkedIn is a social network designed for professionals, whether it be a Marketing Manager, CEO, Accounting Intern or even a first year uni student who is just happy to be there for the opportunity!
I think that I can speak on behalf of most anti-social university students and say that the thought of attending a business networking event rattles me to my core. And this is exactly where LinkedIn can come into things and save the day! With LinkedIn, just like Facebook, you can add friends (aka a ‘connection’) and use the messaging function to privately chat or even if you’re feeling nice, chuck them an endorsement for a skill they’ve listed on their profile. You may not have even the slightest idea if they do in fact hold this skill, but I can tell you one thing, it will get you brownie points and even an endorsement of your own. Kind of a #like4like ritual.
LinkedIn is the perfect tool to allow uni students to connect and network with their potential future employees! Showing the initiative to connect with a corporate professional via LinkedIn may just give you that competitive advantage you need later on when it’s don don donnnnnn.. Employment time. Eh yuck. But trust me it’s not that bad. Especially if you were to have a few extra connections up your sleeve who you’ve endorsed for their Microsoft and Excel skills listed on their LinkedIn Profile.
There are a few ground rules for LinkedIn, and of course take them on as seriously as you wish. This is all coming from personal experience and results may vary!
First scenario… Randoms attempting to add you.
As your mum has always told you growing up, don’t talk to strangers! However, on LinkedIn there’s a little bit of a loop hole around this matter, because of course, you want to connect and network with people you don’t already know to try and spark a new business opportunity! So as far as accepting/adding randoms go… we say go for it (within reason).
Here are the rules….
Only accept people within your knowledge of expertise and experience. People who are trying to add you who don’t have any mutual experience with yourself only want one thing….. To up their connection numbers. This can commonly be a waste of your time, especially if they try to message you with spam. One minute you’ll be accepting their connection request and the next, you’ll be questioned about your interest in preventive, anti-ageing skin care.
The only circumstance where you may want to accept connections outside of your field is if they are recruiters, HR managers or hold talent acquisition roles, these type of people commonly go on LinkedIn to search for potential employees and guess what? The next one could maybe be you!
DO NOT meet up with anyone via LinkedIn. Here is where the whole stranger danger aspect really comes out to play. If someone is messaging you asking to “get coffee” to “talk business,” run for the hills. These type of people are literally on LinkedIn because they don’t want to pay for the monthly subscription at Eharmony. Messaging through LinkedIn is fine, if you are genuinely interested in their background and experience and want to gauge some insight. However, if you do feel enticed to meet up with a connection, just before you do, I would conduct a quick criminal record check, working with children, social security number etc, or perhaps just go through the firm they are at just in case. Because it is no secret that people like to tell fibs about where they are working and what position they may hold.
Second scenario…. Profile picture
This is where the true differences between Facebook and LinkedIn need to be clear. If you think you can post your new Facebook DP of you sipping a cocktail, in your bikinis, on your recent Hawaii trip as your LinkedIn profile picture. Think again. After all LinkedIn is a professional setting, although some people may not act like it is.
Do: post a close up photo of your face and not a zoomed out scenery pic of you as a little speck. People need to see YOU because at the end of the day, they need to put a face to the name that they are interested in hiring. So grab your mum, your grandpa, your cat, or anyone to take a quick close up photo of you, because as we all know, these types of photos are not usually just sitting around on our camera rolls. Which brings me to the next rule….
NO SELFIES. Selfies look unprofessional and let’s be real, a little bit self-absorbed. Your LinkedIn profile has already delved with how good you are at this and how experienced you are at that, the one thing you don’t need on top of all this self-appraisal is a selfie which just screams “I know I look good”. So as mentioned before, take a damn photo in front of a nice, white wall.
Make sure the photo is as professional as it can be, otherwise you may be giving off the wrong image. Just think, you wouldn’t want your grandpa looking at a photo of you in a midriff, or on someones shoulders at a festival, so you don’t want your employer to either. So put away the thrasher midriff and chuck on a nice, clean shirt.
Hopefully you’ve learnt a thing or two about the ins and outs of LinkedIn, trust me it’s not as scary as you may think. Give it a red hot go and just think of it as a way to put yourself out there and actively kick start your career.