Why You Need to Create a LinkedIn Profile Today


I had the pleasure of presenting on the subject of "Irish Economy in a Global Picture' for Finance Soc last month when I visited NUI Galway. At the end of the session, there was an announcement that they and Entrepreneurship Soc were going to hold a LinkedIn Corporate Headshot Day during the Career Development Centre - NUI Galway Grad Jobs Fair. I wholeheartedly encouraged everybody to go along and participate in this opportunity, but also to set up a LinkedIn profile right away. At the time of writing, I have 6549 connections on LinkedIn and it's steadily rising! You might think that it's just for people who are in the workforce already, but at third level, it's never too early to start thinking about building your network. It's rare to see somebody at this age with a very strong presence on LinkedIn, so you can really set yourself apart when it comes to applying for awards, internships, summer jobs and graduate programs.

Personally, I've generated several benefits from LinkedIn. It's enabled me to meet new connections, prospects and clients. It's given me a way to keep a light connection with (literally) thousands of people as each time I post an update, they can see what I'm currently working on which might serendipitously  dovetail in on a project they're working on at the time. It's a fantastic tool to help me prepare for meetings with people that I don't know as a LinkedIn profile is a super store of their professional information. (You might bear that in mind when you go for interviews yourself in the future). It's an ideal place to post the link to articles from my blog www.thepositiveeconomist.com as they frequently pertain to a business audience. Also, I've often contacted people through LinkedIn when I didn't have their direct e-mail. Overall, it's a superb use of 30 minutes of time and energy.

Enough about me, let's focus on you. The first thing you need to do is go on to the site www.linkedin.com and set up a profile. LinkedInYou will be asked for your "position" and when I was in college mine would have simply been "Financial Maths & Economics Student at NUI Galway". In essence, the remainder of the form is like a dynamic C.V. questionnaire. You can fill in your education, hobbies, honours and awards. In addition, you can list any volunteering experience that you've had so far. If you want to bring your profile from good to great, check out some YouTube videos on the subject of "optimizing my LinkedIn profile".

Next, let's consider who you might invite to connect with you. First, you could send me an invite and mention that you read this article, so I will know where you came from. Second, reach out to members of your family; your parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins etc. Third, search and see if your lecturers are on the site. Fourth, follow up with any guest speakers that you come across in your societies. Fifth, ask your classmates if they're on it yet. The LinkedIn algorithms will soon start working out who you should connect with and will make suggestions to you, so you will soon be on your way!

If you set a goal of spending 30 minutes a week on your LinkedIn profile, there are a plethora of things that you can do.  You can join "Groups' that are of interest to you e.g. your subject (e.g. science), your interests (e.g. music), and diaspora groups (e.g. Irish International Business Network). These discussion forums will give you fantastic insights for current University projects, conversation material for interviews and is another way to connect with new people. You can take some of their courses in "Learning" (as they acquired Lynda.com for $1.5 billion two years ago). I've been a member of Lynda.com for several years now and it has some amazing, instantly accessible training. Finally, like FaceBook or any other social media network, you can read down through your newsfeed and comment on what other people are saying. It's good to interact with others and get your voice heard.

Over the year ahead, I will write about many practical skills that will empower you to have the most enjoyable and productive experience at NUI Galway, but also how to prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Setting up a LinkedIn profile is certainly one of them and I look forward to receiving your invite to connect in the coming days.

Susan HayesCulleton, CFA, graduated from NUI Galway  Twitter@SusanHayes_​​​​​ 



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