Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard of LinkedIn. It’s free, it’s professional, and it’s something you want to seriously consider getting involved with if you’re planning on starting a professional career after college.
Sure, it’s time-consuming to set up and most people don’t even know how to fully use it to their advantage. But — lucky for you! — I’m going to share some insights to give you that extra edge to help you connect with more people and establish working relationships.
In Part Two of this article, I’ll walk you through a weekly / monthly habit to really get your LinkedIn network built for the rest of your professional life.
Making Your LinkedIn Profile
When you first make an account on LinkedIn, there is a lot of information to fill out, and if you don’t really know how to approach all of this, it’s easy to accidentally give the wrong impression.
There are a few key aspects of the profile are crucial to your accessibility and networking. We can break this down into three areas — (1) reeling in interest, (2) making yourself personable, and (3) showing your credentials.
One, Reeling in Interest: Getting Those Pageviews
When your profile shows up in another person’s sidebar, there are two important factors that will influence whether they will click through and read your profile: Your profile photo and tagline.
- “Profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be viewed than a profile without one” – official LinkedIn blog.
It is best that you pay special attention to the type of photo you choose because that tells the viewer a lot about the type of person you are. I would suggest either a calm, relaxed photo taken by a close friend or a photo of yourself being caught in the moment — either at work or an activity that demonstrates your curiosity and energy.
- Don’s Tip: It helps to have your picture facing the right of the screen towards your profile. Your subconscious does this funny thing where it sees photos facing away from your profile as disengaged — it’s best to keep this in mind when taking your profile picture. So you must be looking to your left, so that when you post the photo into LinkedIn, you are looking at your profile.
Aside from your profile photo, taglines serve as another crucial means of reeling in interest in your page. Make it creative and inviting.
- To give an example: Instead of “Intern at INQUARTA,” instead write “Research Intern at INQUARTA | Future Medical Student” (assuming that’s what you’re doing, of course. Be honest).
Taglines serve to highlight a certain aspect of yourself that is crucial and should be persuasive. Combined with your profile picture, it should compliment who you are and bring viewers to take a look at the rest of your profile — your summary section.
Two, Making Yourself Personable
Now you need to write your summary. You want to make it short and simple, so three paragraphs should be fine. It would be best to structure it with:
- For the first paragraph, your background (and don’t be hesitant to be personal)
- Second, describe your passions and what inspires you. If you’d like, you can also discuss your previous professional experiences. While most students don’t have paid profiessional experiences, you can certainly include your VOLUNTEER experiences — in a lab, doing research, in a hospital or clinical setting.
- And finally, close your summary with either a quote or something about a special interest you have.
Focus on making your thoughts concise. Be personable, because if the writing is too dry, it might turn away potential networking opportunities.
Three, Proving Your Credentials
Since you have a summary, you need to back up what you’re saying with some credentials. And LinkedIn has plenty of categories. I would advise to fill these out to the best of your ability and be as specific as possible. A lot of this overlaps with the previous step — the descriptions of your projects and awards should be written in the same personable tone as the summary.
The categories you should fill out most thoroughly are:
- Honors and Awards
- Education (make sure to only list the courses that are relevant to the field you are working in).
- Endorsements and Skills
- Organizations / Companies
Refer to your CV (link to the CV article) to guide you through these segments.
All of these are customizable, so if you feel that any one or two or more of these categories show people your best, move the column to the top of your profile so it can be seen first.
I’ve Made My Profile, How Do I Connect?
In Part Two of this article, I’ll walk you through all the details of how to go through and make connections through LinkedIn. Take a look!