Today, we’re exploring LinkedIn for new grads. We’ve saved the best for last: this site was created with professional networking in mind, and it’s our top pick as the most effective resource when it comes to making meaningful professional connections. Check out our guide to find great ideas for making the most of this great tool, as well as groups to check out and insightful posts for LinkedIn success.
Whether you’re a LinkedIn newbie or just need to become more effective on the site, these tips offer great ideas for LinkedIn networking as a new grad.
- Use it: Too often, students and recent grads shy away from LinkedIn, preferring to use Facebook or Twitter instead. That’s a mistake: LinkedIn is the online destination for professional networking, and you’ve got to be on it to get connected.
- Create a complete profile: Don’t just give a tiny bit of effort when it comes to your profile; actually take the time to fill it out completely so that you’ll be more likely to connect with others that share your interests.
- Connect with your classmates and professors: Leaving school doesn’t mean you have to leave all of your connections behind. Bring them with you by reaching out and connecting with classmates, faculty, and friends on LinkedIn.
- Find a mentor: Use LinkedIn to find alumni, professors, or industry greats that can help you out as you navigate in your new career.
- Use introductions: If you share a connection with someone you’d like to meet, simply use the introduction form to request that your connection passes it along and helps you grow your network.
- Connect with all of your past employers: Yes, all of them. You never know which connections can pay off for you, so really take advantage of your full network.
- Take advantage of resources just for new grads: LinkedIn has recently spiffed up profiles for new grads, allowing users to list projects, honors, organizations, and even courses that you’ve taken in college, all relevant experience that can help you stand out and get connected with more people.
- Ask for recommendations: Check in with former employers, professors, colleagues, and classmates to greatly improve your LinkedIn profile with recommendations from those who know you in your college/professional life.
- Be a connector: If you know two (or more people) that should know each other but don’t, take a moment to introduce them to each other on LinkedIn. They’ll appreciate that you thought of them and recognize that you’re valuable as a person who offers assistance and great connections.
- Don’t neglect keywords: Although you’ll likely connect with people you know, and people they know, others (including recruiters) will find you simply by searching. The best way to get found is to include relevant keywords throughout your profile and summary. Remember to highlight and repeat key phrases and words that do a good job of explaining what you’re all about.
- Go public: Although you may be concerned about privacy, keeping a private profile is not the way to go on LinkedIn. Open your profile up publicly to connect with new people, and just be careful about what you share.
- Make small connections: LinkedIn’s co-founder, Reid Hoffman, says that it’s a great idea to do “small goods” on the site, offering congratulations, “likes,” and other little ways to let people know you’re listening and you care.
- Join groups: This one should be a no-brainer. If you want to network on LinkedIn, one of the best ways to do so is to get connected with others through industry and career groups.
- Establish yourself as an expert with Q&A: Check out the LinkedIn Answers tool to stand out as a resource in your industry and area of interest. You’ll attract new connections and show potential employers that you’re well-informed.
- Personalize your connections: When requesting connections on LinkedIn, take a moment to change the template request from “I’d like to add you to my professional network” to something that actually identifies you and why you should be connected with that person.
- Network in person, too: Use LinkedIn as a way to get connected with people and events that you’ll spend time with in person, deepening connections and finding more resources within your network.
Groups for New Grads
Join and participate in these groups to get connected with relevant new contacts, find resources for new grads, and more.
- Your alumni network: Take advantage of your college connection and get active in your alumni group on LinkedIn. Some of the best of these include the Boston College Alumni Group and The Penn State Alumni Association.
- Young professionals groups: There are countless groups on LinkedIn dedicated to young professionals in a variety of different interests. These include those that are industry-based, like Young Professionals in Energy, and location-based, like Chicago Young Professionals.
- Professional organizations, interest groups: Perhaps the most valuable groups you can join are the ones that cater to your specific career, interest, and industry. Search to find the right one for you, and dive in to become an active member.
- New Grad Life: Join this group to find discussions on interviewing, job posts, networking, and more.
- Students and New Grads: Become a part of Students and Recent Grads to get connected with people who want to hire new grads, learn about entry-level jobs available, and find out about news that matters to recent graduates.
- College Graduate Job Hunters: Find great new jobs, lively discussions, and great connections, all aimed at new graduates searching for jobs in this group.
- College Recruiting Central: Get insight into how human resources professionals and recruiters are finding new grads like yourself by joining and participating in this group.
Useful LinkedIn Tools
Find a job, discover new connections, and share your portfolio by taking advantage of these great tools on LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn Student Jobs: LinkedIn has made it amazingly easy to find a job targeted for new grads on the site. Through the LinkedIn Student Jobs section you’ll find a wealth of companies looking to hire recent grads just like you.
- Beepmo: Using this GPS-enabled mobile app, you can discover new connections based on where you’re located, making finding new people “as easy as checking into Foursquare.”
- Creative Portfolio Display: If you’ve worked on a lot of projects in college, this app is a great way to showcase your work and show your connections (and potential employers) what you’re all about.
- Reading List: This app is great for discovering new and relevant books, and also for striking up a conversation with others about what you’ve read.
- LinkOut: Having trouble finding time to get together with a new connection? LinkOut can take your calendar, your connection’s calendar, and automatically find times in which you can get together.
- Cardmunch: At events, it’s not always easy to collect business cards and remember to connect with everyone you’ve met on Facebook. Cardmunch automates much of this, automatically transcribing and uploading information from business cards after you take a photo of them.
- Events: This is a can’t-miss app. Stay on top of events that are important for networking and your career with the LinkedIn Events app.
Further explore the ways you can use LinkedIn for professional networking as a new graduate with these blog posts.
- LinkedIn Tips: Getting More from the Social Networking Service: Check out this post from CIO.com to learn how you can get more out of networking on LinkedIn.
- What Do I Put in My LinkedIn Profile if I am a College Student?: Neal Schaffer’s post goes into great detail about what you should do with your profile if you’re just starting out in the workforce.
- Oops! What NOT to Do When Approaching a Recruiter on LinkedIn: Thinking about connecting with a recruiter? Tread carefully, and watch out for these mistakes.
- LinkedIn Recommendation Tips: Chris Brogan’s post explains the fine art of sharing and requesting recommendations on LinkedIn.
- 9 Steps to LinkedIn Networking for a Job: Follow the steps in this post to increase your chances of finding a job through LinkedIn networking.
- Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn: This resource is more than five years old, but Guy Kawasaki’s advice still rings true as he explains several ways that anyone can put LinkedIn to work for networking and more.
- 5 Reasons to Use LinkedIn: Geared toward freelancers, this article is great advice for anyone who needs to better understand why and how they should ramp up their LinkedIn networking.
This post was first published in Online Colleges.