There is never a better time to get started using LinkedIn than while you are still in college. Unlike Facebook, which you’ve probably used primarily for your social life, LinkedIn should be reserved for your professional life. And even though you are a couple of years away from your first professional job, now is the time to start building your LinkedIn profile and network. LinkedIn is a very powerful business tool and a “must have” for all professionals. For more insight on the use of LinkedIn among recruiters, check out this article, “20 Reasons Why LinkedIn Will Be the #1 Recruiting Portal of the Future.” And if you need more convincing, here is a great article and infographic on “20 Compelling Reasons to Spend Less Time on Facebook and More Time on LinkedIn.”
I recommend that by the beginning of junior year, you already have a finely tuned LinkedIn profile and that before graduation you have at least 100 LinkedIn connections. It’s’ easier than you think. Here are the 4 basic steps:
- Since you will need to have a polished version of your resume before you graduate, you can save yourself a step when creating your LinkedIn profile. Begin with a well written copy of your resume. Many college career offices offer a free resume review service or you can hire a professional resume writer (most qualified resume writers carry the CPRW certification).
- Once you have your completed resume, create a LinkedIn account and upload your resume to create your initial profile. Revise your profile as necessary especially in the Additional Information section.
- Join at least five professional groups. Don’t know which groups to join? Start with your college and/or alumni association. Add three others based on the career fields you are considering. Then, add one more based on volunteer work that you’ve done.
- Connect with at least 100 people. This might sound like a large number, but if you break it down, the number is manageable. Let’s assume you have four more semesters before graduation and you have five classes per semester. If you connect on LinkedIn with three of your classmates in each of your remain classes, that’s 60 people and be sure to include your professors which is another 20 people. You can easily find an additional 20 connections or more among your friends, roommates, teammates and fellow student group or student club members. That’s 100+!