Nearly every student uses social networks like Facebook. But, many of those same students don't realize that a social network exists to do professional networking.
The site is called LinkedIn.com, and it provides the opportunity to stay in touch with your professional connections. But, it does much more than that and those other aspects of the site can provide an amazing amount of value to your career exploration or job search activities. Here is how we recommend you use LinkedIn.
- Complete your profile. Having a fully completed profile will help others view your activities in a positive light. Users with incomplete profiles are less likely to receive communication and less likely to be seen as "legitimate." You can start the process of creating your profile simply by uploading your resume or CV. Thereafter the system will walk you through each step that is necessary to have a complete profile.
- Make connections. It is fine for you to connect with your friends on LinkedIn. But, you shouldn't stop there. Connect with your professors. Connect with anyone who has supervised you in the past. Connect with professionals that you meet during an internship or research project. Connect with staff members on campus. Connect with anyone you meet at a UCS networking night/meet up, industry panel or career fair.
- Join groups. There are several large UNC alumni groups that are obvious for you to join. In fact, just joining the three largest gives you immediate access to more than 10,000 Tar Heel connections! But, don't stop with those alumni groups. Search for groups based on your interests, whether it's an industry, a company, a geographic location or otherwise. These groups give you the opportunity to interact with a message directly with professionals
- Use the Answers section. There is a section of LinkedIn called "Answers." This is a space where anyone can pose a question and anyone can provide an answer. Consider doing both! This is a great place to learn about trends in your field of interest. It's also a great place to contribute to the dialog and demonstrate your knowledge.
- Learn about Companies. The "Companies" section of LinkedIn can provide some amazing information about companies in your industry. Not sure where to start? You can browse by industry. Once you've selected a company, you are given information about not only that company, but other LinkedIn users who are currently or have been part of that company. You can also learn about new hires, promotions and other internal information that was previously unknowable.