5 LinkedIn Networking Tips for Students (& Other Slow Adopters)

While most students probably have LinkedIn accounts with some basic information about their college and a few certificates they may have managed to amass, they are not sure how to make the most of the platform. "LinkedIn?" they ask "do we really need it right now?" 

The answer is yes. Most students consider LinkedIn to be the Facebook equivalent for top executives, but it is so much more than that. LinkedIn can be thought of as a spokesperson and a brand builder. It is the first channel that recruiters and employers look at. It's not just a place for people to boast about their recent internship at IBM (that's also allowed, of course), but it is the perfect place to build connections, find opportunities and most importantly, be found. LinkedIn is currently used by 9 out of 10 companies to hire new employees. 

So how can students make the most of LinkedIn?

1. Profile Picture: When one gets a connection request from someone without a profile picture, they instantly hit the delete button. A profile with a display picture gets 14 times the views of a profile without one on LinkedIn. Students should pick a professional-looking photo with their faces in full view. Photos from that cool party or the funny face that got 150 likes on Instagram is a bad idea.

2. Completed Profile: Students should add an informative and eye-catching profile description that is both straightforward and interesting. They should mention what they are currently doing and where they see themselves going. The summary section serves as a cover letter and one can mention their experiences, goals and qualifications. Students should avoid listing them out one after another and instead add an interesting narrative and maybe a few fun facts. This makes one seem more real. 

One should mention all the jobs they've held, promotions they've received and places where they've volunteered. Certificates of merit, completed language courses or outstanding GPA scores should also be mentioned, especially if the student lacks work experience. Including images, videos and presentations will add more weight to one's profile as visuals tend to stick longer in the reader's memory.  

3. Build a network: Approaching strangers is never fun, so the student should start with who they know. By connecting email accounts to the profile, they can build connections with everyone they know. Adding professors, family, friends, colleagues and even professionals, who's content may be relevant to the industry they are interested in, is a good idea.

Students can expand their reach by adding people they may have met at a conference or during an internship. At times like these, a personal note regarding where they met or through whom is recommended. 

4. Recommendations and Keywords: Professors and co-workers are the perfect people to write recommendations and endorsements for the student. Recruiters are more partial to profiles that have recommendations from people they have previously worked with. 

Adding relevant and searched-for keywords in one's profile increases their visibility. This makes it easier for employers and recruiters to find them. If they are not sure about what the keywords are, browsing through job listings on the website or check out profiles of people who are doing something similar will help. 

5. Content, content, content: When one des manage to comprehensively complete their profile and add a decent number of connections, the next step is to stay visible and active. Participating in various communities and groups and engaging with professionals will help one build their brand and get familiar with their industry. By constantly posting relevant content, one will not only stimulate discussions, but will also stay on their network's radar. 

These small tips will help students build their brand and attract more employers. LinkedIn is not just a playground for the well-connected. Instead it is the perfect place for students to create a brand name for themselves, find the perfect jobs and get a firm grip on their industry. Using it the right way can make all the difference for ambitious students. 

Author Bio: Antara is currently pursuing a degree in media and communication. She is very passionate about digital social media marketing. Connect with her on Facebook