Your reputation does precede you in the digital age. Rather than bemoaning or ignoring this fact, take control of your online profile. By doing so, you take control of your career.
Wondering where to start? Start by doing what everyone does: Google your name. Who shows up? Are you competing with others with the same name? If so, how can you separate yourself from the pack? Does your profile from your last job appear? Or is the first thing your classmates, career services and potential employers discover is a few irrelevant tweets, icons for numerous social platforms and a half-complete LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn is your most important professional online network (sorry Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok). This is not to say you won’t make professional connections on other platforms – rather, it is stressing that LinkedIn is the network we turn to first to verify credentials and check expertise (we = employers aka the folks you hope will give you an internship or real paying job).
Good news is that profile creation is under your control.
And more good news: LinkedIn has a high page search ranking on Google and other search engines, which means, the hard work you put into creating a strong profile (aka your online resume) pays off in discoverability.
My top 3 LinkedIn tips for college students for networking on the platform are:
- Complete your profile and make sure it aligns with your resume. As a recruiter notes at page 159 in Build Your Dream Network: A big red flag is a LinkedIn profile that doesn’t match a corporate online bio or the CV that is attached to a potential candidate’s e-mail.
- Get a professional headshot. We connect with other people – so show the world who you really are – just not slouched on the sofa. Need guidance on snapping your own picture? Check out this how-to video my intern created.
- Leverage the power of LinkedIn to learn about potential employers. Follow the firms, government agencies, not-for-profits, NGOs and other entities on LinkedIn by searching for their business pages. Once you follow a business page, you’ll be notified of updates, posts as well as gain insights on who in your network works at or is connected in to the organization.
For more of my LinkedIn insights, check out – the latest video in the Back To School/Off To College Networking playlist on YouTube (a series of videos scripted by my college-aged summer intern for her college-aged peers) – as well as:
- Quartz at Work “Unsure who to accept or reject on LinkedIn? Consult this flowchart”
- Flip ahead to page 151 of Build Your Dream Network if the “how to” of networking on social platforms baffles you. As I note (and as I do): For me, social networking platforms are simply an extension of physical spaces—those networking rooms or venues we frequently find ourselves in. LinkedIn is the office or industry conference. Facebook is the high school reunion or family gathering. Twitter is the cocktail party.
- MORE the BYDN blog “15 Keywords To Boost Your Career” and “Tips From Build Your Dream Network: Networking Online To Offline”