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What Every College Student Needs to Know About LinkedIn

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In September 2014, I had the privilege to present for my alma mater: The University of Maryland Baltimore County. The room was filled with over 200 of the best and the brightest U.M.B.C. had to offer. Specifically, this was a group of young men and women that wanted to get a head start on finding their career after graduation. I had the opportunity to work one on one with about 10 of the students after my presentation and I wanted to share my best recommendations that were almost universal to all of them.

TAKE REAL INITIATIVE

At the end of my presentation, I offered to provide free one on one sessions for the first 10 students that connected with me. Surprisingly, only a dozen people asked to take me up on my offer. One changed their mind after saying yes. Another had a family emergency and never rescheduled and a third was an hour late after confirming our meeting day and time that morning. I can tell you all that these practices won't get you very far in the business world. We all have busy lives and emergencies come up. You will receive much more leniency and understanding when you are direct and honest. Saying sorry helps quite a bit, as long it is sincere and has accountability.

CONNECT, CONNECT & CONNECT SOME MORE

I would think this would be obvious, but many students were confused who they should connect to, it's simple. Everyone you know. Family, friends, classmates, co-workers, managers (both current and former), college instructors and professors. If you know them, connect with them, because YOU NEVER KNOW where your next job referral is going to come from.

FOLLOW UP & FOLLOW THROUGH

Most of the students I met with were in the process of running through the job fair circuit. It is powerful to reach out to a recruiter or hiring manger after meeting them at such an event and connect with them. Be sure to personalize the connection request and reference the event. Here is the real important piece to remember. Connect with them... Even if you have NO INTEREST in the job. You don't know where that person will be working in five years and you don't know where you will be working in five years.

A CLEAR CLOSE UP PROFILE PICTURE

I was once a starving college student myself. I understand not having the money to spend on a professional head shot. If that is the case, make sure the picture is clear and a close up of your face so your features are clearly seen. Make sure the attire you are wearing is professional.

FILL OUT YOUR PROFILE COMPLETELY

Every component of your profile is valuable to creating your own personal brand and attracting potential employers. If your response is "but Mike, I don't have FILL IN THE BLANK to put on my profile" fix it. Don't have volunteer experience? Go volunteer. Don't have recommendations? Start asking.

AVOID BUZZWORDS

For more details on this topic, click here , I wrote an entire piece about buzzwords.

USE THE APPS AVAILABLE

LinkedIn has done a pretty good job of creating and supporting apps that help you get connected (particularly if you are an iPhone user) apps like "Connected" and "Evernote" are great ways to connect with people and then stay connected.

CONTENT IS KING

If you want to present yourself as an expert in your field, you need to share content, deliver content and engage in conversation on other people's content. You can join up to 50 groups, do it. You can write posts like the one your are reading right now. You should share thought provoking updates, if not every day, every other day. That can be as simple as sharing articles you find interesting and relevant.

THE UP FRONT INVESTMENT THE LONG TERM BENEFITS

To really build your profile, should take you a couple hours (please spell check and make sure links work etc.) After that, spend 30 minutes a day to see what is going on (and keep connecting). If you are actively seeking a new job, then spend more time on LinkedIn. The more information you give LinkedIn about you, the better it will do recommending jobs for you.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate constructive comments, discussion and shares. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions.

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Mike Shelah - Founder - LinkedIn Consultant
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