What are you waiting for?

 

If you are looking for an argument about why you should be on LinkedIn, you won’t get it here. I assume that if you are a student in the UIC College of Business Administration or in the Liautaud Graduate School of Business, that you are indeed interested in a job when you finish your degree. If this is not the case, stop reading now.

For those that are still with me, join LinkedIn now.

OK, now that everyone that is interested in working is on LinkedIn, let’s talk about a few ideas on how to beef up your profile so that it is working for you.

PICTURE – No FaceBook pictures or passport photos. Put on a suit and ask a friend or family member to take a picture in front of a non-distracting background. This is a professional networking site, so you should look professional. I don’t want to see your dog or the shoulder of the boyfriend you cropped out.

TAGLINE – This defaults to your current job title and company. You should not define yourself as your current job. Own this and come up with a tagline that tells me who you are. Worst case scenario… use “Marketing Student at University of Illinois at Chicago.”

SUMMARY – Lots of people skip this, because it requires some thought. Don’t let that be you. Tell me who you are and what you want to do. If you are an accounting student, tell me why you are passionate about accounting and what within that field most interests you. This will double as your elevator pitch. Two birds with one stone… Bam!

EXPERIENCE – This should be consistent with, but not a copy of your resume. Yes, you can use bullets if you want, but I would rather you explain it to me as you would if you were sitting across the table from me. Use language particular to the field you want to pursue whenever possible. While you have more real estate here than you do on a resume, don’t write a book – a few paragraphs will suffice.

SKILLS & EXPERTISE – Read job descriptions (in your chosen field), particularly the “qualifications” section. What are they looking for? Use this section to intentionally highlight legitimate skills that align with the job you want. Endorse other people on their skills (if you have some basis for it) and they will do the same for you.

GROUPS – Don’t ignore this section! A robust Group section will allow you to communicate with people well beyond your personal network. Join all relevant UIC and UIC alumni groups, the University of Illinois Alumni Association, Linked N Chicago, and any professional organization that is relevant to the career you are pursuing.

RECOMMENDATIONS – LinkedIn is a good place to collect and store recommendations from former employers, faculty and others that have been well positioned to speak to your performance. You are not looking for a novel here… just a paragraph or three that highlights both technical and soft skills.

CONNECT – Now that you have beefed up your profile, start connecting! Stick with people that you have actually met. They don’t all have to be life-long buddies, but you should have some human interaction with them before you ask them to connect. Never, ever use the default invitation! Jot them a quick note that gives them some context (how you know them, where you met, what you talked about, etc.).

A quick summary… LinkedIn is not an option or something that you will get to later. Join, create a robust profile and connect. Do it now!

Interested in more tips and tricks for LinkedIn? UIC Business students can check out what the experts say about LinkedIn at http://uic.beyondb-school.com/ . Use your UIC email address as both your username and your password.