With the world at various stages of lockdown, now is a good time for students hoping to enter the project profession to look at growing virtual networks. Many aspiring project professionals and students are studying at home but not having any exams in the summer months or an internship or summer job means you might be feeling lost.
LinkedIn, with its 600+ million members, is a great place for you to build both networks and knowledge. As a regular LinkedIn user, I recorded a webinar (below) to help students and teachers new to LinkedIn get their profile up and running. Here are some top tips:
Pick the right profile photo
The best LinkedIn profiles are those with a photo because they make the profile seem real and human. But which photo to choose? Avoid the chopped photo with friends where the dreaded phantom hand rests on your shoulder. A picture of you during a night out is unlikely to wow recruiters either. Ask a friend or family member to take a photo of you and remember to smile. Or a simple, smiley selfie is just fine if you don’t have someone to take a snap of you.
Write your elevator pitch
Under your photo is a space for you to introduce yourself to the LinkedIn community. If you’re worried about having little or no work experience, use the space to tell the world what you want to be (‘aspiring project professional’ I expect), what your values are, and what attributes you can bring to a company. Remember, any experience is likely relevant experience. Think about the soft skills companies are looking for – you get those playing sports, doing a Saturday job or through other extracurricular roles.
Connect with words
You’ve thought about the kind of companies you want to work for, followed them and found people in those companies whom you’d like to link with. You’ve clicked the Connect button – so far so good. Now add a note. LinkedIn is a very collaborative space, but how many of us ignore a connection request from someone who hasn’t taken the time to explain why they want to connect?
To avoid that trap, always write a little note explaining why you want to connect and how you think that person could help you. Once you’ve started to build your network and people start connecting with you, rather than ignoring them you could accept and write a message asking how you can help them.
Pics, vids and tags
You have a profile, you’ve made connections, now what? Use the tools available to create posts and appear in the home feed. All the stats show that people are more likely to engage with LinkedIn posts that have an image, and more likely still if there is video content. It doesn’t have to look polished – people are more interested in what you have to say than your production values. It also helps to tag relevant people and companies in your post – it’s the easy way to get seen by more people.
Be a groupie
LinkedIn groups are hidden gems – a great way to reach large numbers of like-minded people, and see what topics are focusing people’s minds. University students can post on LinkedIn groups for dissertation survey responses, and students at any stage can ask for advice, insight and even a work experience opportunity once things are back to normal.
Have you sent up a LinkedIn profile yet? And what are your top tips to building a network?
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