Guess what the number one piece of advice business professionals give to college students about to join the work force. If you guessed join LinkedIn, you’re right! Our intern Margaret says she’s heard this countless times, but never took it seriously until doing some research and seeing what LinkedIn could do not just for her, but for anyone in the professional world. However, there are a few things you must do before you can optimize the value of this site.
1. Complete your profile. It’s easy to get to a point in your profile where you think “Okay, this is enough”, or maybe that one part doesn’t apply to you. However, not completing your profile to the 100% makes you look less professional to viewers of your profile. And don’t forget to include a professional picture of yourself! It seems silly, but many users don’t ever complete their profile - be one of the few to show the effort, it counts.
2. Join Networking Groups. Join groups relevant to your business area, as well as alumnae groups. Create or join a discussion and provide valuable insight on the topic to build trust from other members in the group. This is a great way to make contacts and find sales leads that already have an idea of what to expect from you.
3. Ask for Recommendations. LinkedIn provides a place on your page where people you’ve worked with can recommend you as an employee. Likewise, you can ask customers who have had good experiences with your services to leave a comment on your page. This adds an extra star to your profile, and makes an impression on those who view it.
4. Connect. One of the interesting aspects of LinkedIn is its ability to show you who have been viewing your profile. While it’s easy to view this as just creepy, it can actually be a valuable tool for networking. Reach out to these people and see why they were looking at your page- a few might be weird, but the worst that could come from it is making a new contact. Some may be interested in working with you and your business, and you reaching out to them is a great show of initiative.
Overall, once your profile is complete LinkedIn is a great source for networking in your field. Get involved and take advantage of all this site has to offer – you never know what kind of people you will meet or what sales you can make from it!