Why bother using LinkedIn when you don’t have much job experience to put on your profile page? Here’s why–and how to do it.
LinkedIn is a great place to build a network, diversify your knowledge, and find new career opportunities–even when you’re early in your career. Students and recent grads may neglect LinkedIn, thinking it’s premature to start investing time into the platform before actually building up a solid amount of work experience. That’s a mistake.
I’ve found unexpected opportunities lurking within LinkedIn that simply require some ingenuity to take advantage of. Here are a few tips that have worked for me in the past few years I’ve spent in the tech industry after graduating.
1. START NETWORKING CONVERSATIONS YOU CAN TAKE OFFLINE
Yes, LinkedIn is kind of like a database. You load it up with information on your interests, objectives, skills, and accomplishments so the leaders and peers you connect with can tell what you’re all about. Obviously, when someone checks out your profile, you’ll want it to be thorough and compelling.
But all the work you put into your profile is just a springboard for reaching out to other professionals in your industry. Whenever you come across someone you’d like to connect with on LinkedIn, your real objective should be to take the conversation you strike up offline as quickly as possible. Don’t treat LinkedIn the way you might operate on Instagram, racking up contacts you have no intention of interacting with in the real world.
LinkedIn is a means to an end, and that end goal should always be real-time conversations–ideally face to face, or by phone if necessary when you live in different places and don’t plan to visit soon. Using LinkedIn to set up face-to-face meetings with new people is a crucial and underutilized tactic for younger professionals working to build their networks in a meaningful way.
2. TREAT LINKEDIN LIKE A FREE SEMINAR
Learning quickly at a new job is one of the most exciting and daunting tasks entry- and associate-level workers usually face. First you have to learn your role and size up the work culture. Then you’ve got to get a handle on the industry and understand how your company is competing in the market. LinkedIn can actually help you with all of that.
So search for and join groups, follow leaders, comment on conversations, and share interesting stories. You can start by following industry-specific groups, first as an observer, and then as a participant as you get more comfortable. Make sure you also pay attention to what your company and its competitors are posting. Staying engaged–even by checking in on the chatter just once a week or so–can help you stay informed and ahead of the game.
Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.