- Over 300 million people around the world use LinkedIn to maintain their professional network. There are other professional social networking sites which are popular in certain countries or for certain industries, but LinkedIn is currently the largest and most diverse. They have created some useful videos and help guides for students.
- Think of your profile as your online CV. Remember that people are likely to skim-read it so focus on key strengths and experiences rather than listing everything you’ve done and all your duties and responsibilities.
- Understand how to use privacy settings on your other social media accounts. When people search for you online, you want to be able to control what they find.
- After creating your profile, start connecting to friends, family, classmates and work colleagues. Read this article on why you shouldn’t underestimate your personal network.
- Join and contribute to LinkedIn groups. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn. Make sure you pick relevant ones that you can be active within. There are lots of groups for students studying specific subjects as well as for professionals.
- Research information about companies and look for the profiles of people with whom you may be interested in making contact. LinkedIn’s alumni tool (Topic 5 on the LinkedIn for students website is a good way to find out what graduates from your course are now doing.
- Start to build your network by sending connection requests to relevant people. Alexandra Levit’s article “4 Steps for Effective Online Networking” and Alyssa Walker’s article “How to Build a Professional Network Online” have some tips for how to do this effectively. Most people will ignore the standard request sent by LinkedIn “I would like to add you to my professional network” unless they know who it’s from, so make sure you tailor each connection request. You’re also more likely to get a positive response from people you have met.