Networking is an essential part of wealth.” ~ Armstrong Williams
This article was originally published with The Odyssey on May 29, 2017.
LinkedIn is a networking website which enables millions of companies, employees and those seeking work to connect and mingle professionally. Officially launched in 2003, the website now has more than 500 million members worldwide.Though it seems like this is a professional website only for adults, LinkedIn can be a very useful tool for high school and college students just beginning to weave their web of connections. Here are 11 reasons why everyone should have a LinkedIn account.
1. You can establish a professional brand.
If you are involved in anything on campus, such as any societies or organizations, you can follow those organizations on LinkedIn as well as post on your profile that you are a member. In addition to this, if you are interested in certain companies or establishing a certain kind of professional brand, LinkedIn is the perfect place to begin that – in sharing and liking posts related to your field of study or area of occupation, you can work on finessing that professional brand. The site also makes it easy for users to post their preferred contact email and a website or blog if they have one. It is also recommended that users update their pages at least once or twice a week; even posting an article here or there is enough to let potential employers know you are available and present.
2. It’s a fantastic way to meet people.
Ever since I’ve started networking with both students and alumni of my college, I’ve met so many people. You can also connect with your professors and teachers from high school. By networking with your friends, family, and colleagues, you will inevitably meet others who are connected with those connections. You never know who you’ll run into on LinkedIn or who you’ll become in contact with. These professional connections could help you gain a job later.
3. You will be more motivated to update your resume.
Updating your resume is a tedious job; it can become a chore that you push off and eventually forget to do altogether. However, with a LinkedIn profile, you will be more motivated to update your resume because you know that employers can and will look at your profile daily. Whether you update a real resume or just put your accomplishments, experience and education on your profile, keeping up with your accomplishments are important and LinkedIn will help cultivate the motivation to do so.
4. You can brag about yourself forever.
If there’s one thing people love to do, it’s talking about themselves. Admit it, you love discussing your accomplishments with other people, especially people you’re attempting to impress. Your LinkedIn profile is not only a fantastic way to network; it’s also the most professional way to endlessly brag about yourself.
5. The site is easy to use.
LinkedIn is constantly updating so that its users have the best experiences. There are fantastic perks for both free members and premium members, including a recent messaging system that allows everyone to receive instant messages, depending on their privacy settings of course. Speaking of privacy, you can customize the privacy settings on each of the sections on your profile. You can choose what strangers and connections see and you can even select what is visible to your eyes only. Networking and brand-building has never been easier.
6. You can take online courses with LinkedIn.
With LinkedIn’s new learning center, members are able to enroll in online courses in any area of expertise available. You can set the skills you are interested in and take courses outside of those interests. There are courses about everything; you can take a broader class on something like confidence, or leadership strategies. Or you take more hands-on courses such as learning the Adobe Suite or learning how to code. You can begin with a free-trial that lasts 30 days and after the price is $24.99 a month – infinitely cheaper than college tuition.
7. Internships and available positions are easy to find.
There’s a tab at the top of the screen titled ‘Jobs’ where you are able to search jobs by keyword or title, or search by area – zip code, country, or state. The posted jobs will also tell you if previous alumni from your school have ever been, or are currently employed at that company. You can also browse companies in your network on this page. You can also find internships under this tab or the regular search by specifying that you’re looking for an internship. Often employers lay out exactly what they want from an applicant and all the information you need to get started.
8. Your profile has infinite possibilities.
On your profile, you’re able to post your professional and volunteer experiences, education, skills, accomplishments (which includes relevant courses, honors and awards, languages known, and projects you’ve worked on), and interests. You also have the opportunity to include an objective at the top of your profile. In addition to this, LinkedIn offers the ability to customize everything on your profile.
9. You can showcase your projects.
Under each profile section, LinkedIn gives users the opportunity to upload relevant media – meaning any thing that relates to that section. For example, at my on-campus job, I create and design many fliers and newsletters. I have uploaded both the recent newsletter and a flier I created under that position. Under my Odyssey position, I’ve uploaded articles that showcase a variety of my skills, such as research, organization and ability to garner an audience. If you have a relevant presentation or graphic design you worked on, it could be beneficial to upload these to your profile to exhibit your skills. You also have the ability to upload a resume, portfolio, or link to a personal website that may have either or both of these documents.
10. Connections can endorse and recommend you.
If it wasn’t enough that you were already bragging about yourself – others can brag about you too! As a connection, you have the ability to ‘endorse’ another user’s skills. By endorsing someone, you confirm that the user is efficient in that skill. Users also have the ability to recommend a colleague, by clicking on the three dots located in the right hand corner of that person’s profile. By having recommendations and endorsements, you are likely to stand out to employers based on what people say about you.
11. You could get a job or you could help others get a job.
This is the most obvious one – LinkedIn is a professional networking website – of course you could gain either a present or future position with either a connection or a complete stranger. In recommending and endorsing others, you’re also given the opportunity to help your colleagues and connections gain employment, too. All in all, LinkedIn is an essential professional resource and everyone should have a profile.