If you are reading this blog the chances are that you are a net savvy user, you have accounts on Facebook and Twitter and you are a student going to America for higher education. But have you ever thought of signing up for a LinkedIn account? Probably not: LinkedIn is supposed to be meant for professionals, and none or few of your friends are on it, so what good would it do a student to have a LinkedIn account?
When you don’t know many people on LinkedIn, it is easy to think that it doesn’t matter. Actually however, there are 5 reasons why having a LinkedIn account is very useful if you are heading for higher education in the States.
- LinkedIn offers several tools to help get information and ideas from experts in your field viz.:
- LinkedIn Groups
- LinkedIn Answers
- LinkedIn Today
For college students these tools offer a great way of learning the professional language of your field, keeping up with the latest trends and topics in the field and becoming a well-informed ‘insider’. With more than 120 million users worldwide, LinkedIn offers a lot of potential avenues for learning.
- Companies use LinkedIn to find potential candidates, so you should use LinkedIn to attract them. After you have finished your course, you will be looking for a job. But companies also search for good candidates and recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates. So, pay attention to key words in your profiles. Spread them throughout the following sections of your LinkedIn profile:
- Keeping the point above in mind, also think of this: LinkedIn is just the right place for you to build a professional brand for yourself. Remember that what recruiters or business contacts find about you online is usually the source of their first impressions of you. If you are a prospective candidate, recruiters will Google you; and LinkedIn profiles typically rank high in Google searches. So, use this fact to your advantage by making sure that what they find out on LinkedIn builds up a strong positive image of you.
- To add to that strong positive profile, use LinkedIn’s tool for gathering and displaying recommendations from other users who you have worked with either during your studies or professionally. So, as you go through your Master’s or doctoral programs in your American university and work with professors there or, in internships in American companies build your credibility by collecting recommendations from them. According to Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career (and global spokesperson for LinkedIn) LinkedIn is “an online resume on steroids”.
- While Facebook is an amazing tool for keeping track of (and even rediscovering) friends, it may not be the most appropriate forum for keeping in touch with your professors or project guides at your university or, specialists whom you have worked with in industry or have consulted while writing research papers. For these you need a different kind of forum which is exactly what LinkedIn provides. LinkedIn offers a platform for maintaining your professional network while keeping it separate from your personal life.
- Finally, if you join early, get to know how LinkedIn works and keep connecting with professionals in the field throughout your Master’s or Doctoral program, you will reap the benefits when you make a start on your professional career: your LinkedIn contacts helps might let you know of opportunities or provide references for you.
So, whether you want to keep in touch with the trends in your field as you study, or whether you want to build up a great professional profile or whether you want to stay in touch with your professors or professional contacts, LinkedIn is a great way to do it.