Often when I ask fellow students if they have LinkedIn, the answer is: “yes, I have an account, though I barely use it.” The only reason they open the app is to make a call for an internship within the network of 50 friends and family they gathered. A number of opportunities are missed in this case. In this article I share 9 tips for students who want to stand out on LinkedIn.
Let’s go back to the moment you created a Linkedin profile in the first case, you had a reason for that. Whether this was ‘in preparation for my later career’ or ‘I had to for school’ does not matter. You wanted to achieve something with it.
You probably haven’t quite succeeded yet. For example, do you already have an optimized profile, a feed with interesting updates and a relevant network?
The tips are divided into three steps: an optimal Linkedin profile, a relevant network and personal branding.
Step 1: Ensure an optimal LinkedIn profile
One of the most important things to start with is the layout of your profile. Do this before you begin with steps two and three. This includes a profile photo, a description and relevant experiences.
1 FIRST IMPRESSION
Making a good first impression is important on every social channel, but with LinkedIn it can be extra difficult. You don’t have much room to dress a whole profile. You only have a profile photo, a bio and your list of experiences. Later in the article I will explain how you can further distinguish yourself.
A profile photo is of great importance in this case. You have a chance to make a great first impression. However, there are a number of unwritten rules for LinkedIn profile photos. For example, it must be a photo of you alone, the photo must revolve around your face and the attention must go to you and not to the background. In my opinion, you are also free to go outside-the-box in the choice of your photo, with a boring black-and-white photo you will not be noticed.
The second thing people will look at is your description. Let them know in a few words or sentences what people can expect from you. Even if you are still a student and have not been working all your life. State what you study, where you work and what your passion is. The earlier you start personal branding, the better. More about personal branding follows later in this article.
2 RELEVANT EXPERIENCE
As a student, you will most likely not have much experience in the sector where you want to end up later. Totally understandable. It is important that you show that you have worked in general, followed an education and did other relevant experiences that prove you have developed yourself in the last years.
Make sure you always keep updating and optimizing your profile. Add relevant work experiences, internships and certificates to your profile. Consider it your online resume.
Step 2: The art of online networking
Do you have the basis of your LinkedIn profile? Nice then the fun can start. The two most important things you can do as a student on LinkedIn are personal branding and increasing your network. I will start with some tips about online networking.
3 HOW DO YOU ADDRESS SOMEONE ONLINE?
Do you know someone who you think is relevant to your network, but have you never spoken to this person in real life? Or did you attend a presentation from someone and you prefer not to approach that person directly afterwards? Then make sure you send them a connection request via LinkedIn together with a message. An example: ‘Hi I saw your presentation, I thought it was very useful and it seemed interesting to link with you’. Most people feel flattered and accept your request.
4 USE YOUR LINKEDIN AS A BUSINESS CARD
One of the first things we had to do during our education was to make a business card that we could take to the EAS. We then gave our business cards to a number of people we spoke to. Afterwards I realized, what should a professional do with a business card from a student who barely has any experience.
Since that realization, every time I speak to someone who might be relevant to my network, I ask whether I can add them on LinkedIn. This has a number of advantages:
- You cannot lose business cards (and therefore connections).
- You share exactly the information you need.
- It is easier to keep a good connection because you stay updated
- In this case, business cards are completely unnecessary, so super durable 😉
5 LIKE, RESPOND AND SHARE STRATEGICally
This sounds much harder than it seems, so I will explain it to you: everything you like, respond and share is seen by others. In fact, they see it appearing on their feed. If you tackle this smartly, you have a good way to brand yourself.
Let me explain this with an example; I am very interested in marketing and theme parks. I share relevant articles about content marketing, I respond to messages from alumni and fellow students from the industry and I like everything that has to do something with these two topics. Every time connections see my update, they will associate marketing or theme parks with me, so far this has worked well for me.
Tip: Mute people who are not relevant to your network. For example people you know because they come from the same village as you. Their posts will most likely not be relevant to you. To keep your feed relevant and interesting, you can mute people whose content doesn’t appeal to you.
Read 7 Storytelling tips for Instagram here as well!
Step 3: Personal branding by posting content yourself
Now that you know how to listen well on LinkedIn, it is also time that you let yourself be heard and write content yourself. These last four tips will help you with this.
6 PLEASE NOTE WHAT kind of CONTENT YOU Post
LinkedIn is a very different platform than Instagram and Facebook. It is business to business. So don’t come up with everyday life updates and pay attention to what you write. So, what is B2B content?
- New school or work-related successes.
- Relevant lessons or cases that you have come across.
- Interesting books, articles or videos from which you have learned something.
- When you are looking for someone who can help you further, career related.
7 DON’T OVERSHARE
It is important that you share relevant content, but make sure that you do not share too much. A connection of mine shared something every single day. After a while this became so annoying that I muted the account. So pay attention to this, as soon as you are muted by one of your connections you will never get into his or her feed again.
As I also briefly described in tip 5, you must ensure that people get certain associations with you. In addition to the things you share and like, you can also do this by sharing your own content. The things that I share on LinkedIn are all related to marketing, storytelling and theme parks. For marketing, for example, I share the articles that I write for Marketingfacts, for theme parks I write about presentations, projects and internships at school.
Finally, it should remain fun to read the content that you share. Although it is a B2B platform, this does not mean that you have to remain impersonal, boring and formal. People prefer to read a funny story with a fun lesson, mistakes you make and unusual situations that you encounter. The more honest and personal, the more likes and views, and this means that you have more potential to reach people outside of your network.
Use LinkedIn optimally
Do you think you have fully mastered LinkedIn now? You are certainly well on your way. Finally, three bonus tips to optimally use LinkedIn.
10 FOLLOW LINKEDIN LEARNING COURSES
LinkedIn has a program where you have the opportunity to learn more about all kinds of professional skills such as writing, presenting and online programs. Different courses, created by professionals, are offered here. These courses are divided in various short videos. Courses have an average duration of 1 to 3 hours.
You pay € 30 per month for LinkedIn Learning, which includes a LinkedIn Premium account. Pay attention, at some universities you can get LinkedIn Learning for free such as at Breda University of Applied Sciences where I study.
11 FOLLOW IMPORTANT PROFESSIONALS
If you prefer not to invest in LinkedIn Learning, there is another free way to gain knowledge about topics that interest you. You can do this by following important professionals who share relevant content on their LinkedIn profile. Often you get lessons, interesting cases and new connections from this.
12 FOLLOW PAGES YOU ARE INTERESTED IN
In addition, there are also a number of pages that keep you informed of the latest developments of a company in the professional field. For that reason, it is useful to follow a number of pages from, for example, companies that have an exemplary function in the industry or companies that you would like to end up with later.
Do not hesitate to add me on LinkedIn!
Do you already use LinkedIn optimally?