Your Best Professional Self

Recently I’ve noticed that more students are creating LinkedIn accounts. This is good! LinkedIn is a wonderful way to present your best professional self to the world. It works, and actually provides the reader with a more complete picture of you than does your resume.

LinkedIn is a great tool if used effectively, therefore we want to use the LinkedIn functions fully so we can more thoughtfully present who we are to others. Here is some very basic advice to new users that will help you successfully use this wonderful professional networking tool.

Professional / Graduate /Designer

Personalize Your Messages: I receive several requests each week from people asking me to join their network. It seems to me that 99% of those who contact me use one of the standard messages from LinkedIn, such as “I’d like to add you to my professional network”, or the slightly more familiar “Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn”. Seriously, you trust me? We just met. I must really come across as a trustworthy individual. When someone personalizes their message, it really stands out, and makes me want to accept that connection immediately. Personalizing your message is a great way to begin the relationship, and it helps you be unique in my mind.

Make Your Profile 100% Complete: Upload your resume; Use a professional profile picture; Complete the skills section, etc. Be honest, be thoughtful and intentional, because this is about how you show up as your best professional self.

Join LinkedIn Groups: Groups are a great way to connect on LinkedIn, and are a way to connect with professionals presently working in your desired field. Some groups have fairly vibrant conversations that can provide you with a perspective about that particular field, the work, or an employer. Groups can also help you identify others to whom you may reach out to in the future, thereby building a solid professional network as you begin your career.

Lastly, Learn About LinkedIn: UW-Whitewater alumnus Wayne Breitbarth wrote a very helpful book titled “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success.” This book is a must-read in my mind, and can help you learn about the various features that LinkedIn offers, which are extensive. Talk with people who have great profiles, check out others profiles and constantly work to improve and enhance yours. Stay active and keep moving forward with how you use LinkedIn. You’ll reach a critical mass that will begin to pay dividends in the near future.

Photo by thinkpublic.