LinkedIn is a powerful, inclusive networking tool that can foster connections between our corner of eastern Washington and the wide professional world. Creating a profile can be daunting, which is why we’ve distilled it to eight steps to get you started.
You can caption yourself however you want with your headline. LinkedIn will automatically take your title from your current “Experience” entry, but that language often doesn’t fully represent everything you do. You can change it to include multiple roles or think of it more like a status (e.g. “History Major Fascinated by the Social Media Landscape” or “Geology Student Seeking International Field Research Experience”).
2. Profile Picture
3. Claim your URL
Set your profile to “public” and create a personalized, clean URL with your name (e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/JonathanDoe) instead of using the one generated by LinkedIn. This change will improve your profile visibility when people search your name online.
Write two sentences to a few paragraphs in third person about your strengths and goals.
Include your school(s), major(s), minor(s) and study away programs. First-years can include high school test scores, awards, and honors; juniors and seniors should limit this information to college accomplishments.
Include at least two entries on your profile. Remember that “experience” is a broad term, so internships, clubs, community service, Greek organizations, jobs, and teams could all potentially go in this section. Write short, specific descriptions in prose, not bullet points, of your positions, emphasizing the results of your efforts (e.g. “My blogging contest created a 21% increase in survey responses” vs. “I directed a successful marketing campaign.”) You can leave some of your responsibilities out if you’d rather explain your more fruitful endeavors in more depth.
Add a minimum of five (and up to fifty!) skills to your profile. Not sure what to include? Look for terminology in job descriptions and on profiles of people with positions toward which you aspire.
LinkedIn has an “Add Contacts” function, which is a quick way to send invitations. You can also start by searching for people you know. Friends, co-workers, teammates, family, religious leaders, supervisors, peers, and fellow volunteers are all viable connections. If you click “Connect” and the screen with the “Include a personal note: (optional)” box appears, modify the automated message. This is especially important with people you’ve just met. For instance, writing, “Hi Jeannette, it was great to talk to you after last night’s lecture. I’d like to connect on LinkedIn so I can reach you in the future,” is much more human than the impersonal form language, which reads, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on Linkedin.”
Once you’re comfortable with these initial efforts, check out the first post in ‘Pretty Decent to Stellar:How to Take Your LinkedIn to the Next Level, a mini-series based on Abby’s LinkedIn overhaul this summer.