David (AKA The Benevolent Curmudgeon):

dscn4331In several prior posts about my experiences with LinkedIn, I have pondered and sought advice about how someone like me (with one foot in academe and the other in the business world) might most profit from and contribute to LinkedIn. Since those postings, I have joined several linked in groups, explored some of LinkedIn’s premium features such “learning”( aka Lynda.com), looked at the usefulness of SlideShare (here is a recent posting there by Jane Hart), participated in some LinkedIn surveys by becoming a member of the “LinkedIn Premium Insiders Community, selectively and systematically expanded my network, subscribed to RSS feeds, explored using hashtags for my postings, and read and responded to a number of posts. I have found particularly rewarding the good work of Maya Pope-Chappell, Education and millennial Editor of LinkedIn. She writes well and has championed efforts 1) to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas from higher education and the business world and 2) to increase opportunities for involvement by college students. See, for example, her Lynda.com screencast targeted for college and university students about how to write for LinkedIn.

Things I dislike about LinkedIn:

  • I still find the “post publishing platform” primitive and user-unfriendly—inferior to that of WordPress (though far superior to Yammer’s). My work-around has been to write LinkedIn blog pieces (targeted for a LinkedIn audience)


on another platform and then migrate them.

  • I find many of the articles far two “formulaic” for my taste: Promises of THE “seven”proven ways to increase my (fill in the buzzword). [I’ve ranted written about my love distaste  thoughts about “buzzwords” here and here.]
  • I get annoyed by my inability to read some articles that look interesting to me unless I turn off my ad blockers or “white list” the target website.

For a refreshingly “non peevish” take on LinkedIn, I invited one of my research assistants, Alison Lehman who is quite knowledgable about LinkedIn (she wrote about it in her first book) to share here present perspective about it. She is most enthusiastic about it even as she approaches the time of her university graduation. I, as always, learned a few things from her.

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Rapidly growing and expanding, LinkedIn is an online, social networking site for individuals to connect with other professionals and post their professional accomplishments, experiences, and volunteer activities. With the technological advances that exist today, employers are not only looking at an individual’s hard copy resume but they are also turning to LinkedIn to put a face to the name, as well as seeing how the individual presents themselves online. LinkedIn is an interactive website to compile education history, past experiences, skills, interests, completed projects, and various other professional expertise; pretty much an online resume for others to see. With connecting and providing experiences, this opens the door to future jobs and valuable professional relationships. Creating a LinkedIn profile can help grow connections in the business world and displays qualifications and experience for jobs.

Getting Started:

To create a LinkedIn profile, an individual can go to the LinkedIn website and create their profile with an email address and password. An individual is then prompted to insert information about themselves, such as a brief autobiography, past education experience, and professional work history. Additionally, information can be entered about volunteer experiences or  organizations’ they care about, institutions they are affiliated with, certifications received, and a list of personal skills. LinkedIn will then organize all of the information into an organized profile page. The user can customize where each section of information will fall (e.g. either at the top of the profile or farther down). Other individuals can also endorse the skills you have listed on your profile. This feature is a quick way for connections to validate that the individual is well qualified in the skills they have listed.

Users are able to create an online profile with as much professional information about themselves as they see pertinent. LinkedIn creates a profile composed of an individual’s professional history, education, and achievements. Similar to a resume, but in an online format, LinkedIn allows other individuals to review your professional endeavors and education. Through LinkedIn, users potentially are more able to find jobs, locate other individuals in their field of study, and discover business and volunteer opportunities. Especially for college students, LinkedIn can be a viable way to make professional connections, search for internships or positions in one’s desired career path, and make connections with other professionals who can give valuable advice or guidance for the future.

Getting the most out of LinkedIn:

The feature that most individuals see on LinkedIn is your picture, name, and professional headline. Since most attention is placed on these three elements, they should be strategically created to help emphasize your field of study and strengths. While a professional headshot is ideal, professional photographers can be expensive to hire. The LinkedIn picture does not need to be taken by a professional but it should be a professional-looking headshot. The professional headline should be crafted to include keywords related to your field of study/work. These keywords can help other professionals find your profile and explore your experiences and strengths. This 120 character opportunity can be used as a mini pitch to quickly showcase your area of expertise and skill set.

Since LinkedIn allows users to compile a profile with sections ranging from education experience, publications, projects, interests, and many more, as much of the profile should be filled out as possible to utilize the ability to display abilities and interests to other professionals. Putting skills and accomplishments on LinkedIn is a way for others to recognize your strengths and reach out when jobs or projects seem relevant. Some of these sections include adding a professional profile picture of oneself and even, if one chooses, adding a cover photo that will be displayed behind the profile. With the ability to include summaries, experiences, and educational history, these allow the user to demonstrate and expand on their qualifications and professional achievements. Some of these sections are education, contact information, professional industry, volunteer experiences, and certifications. Completing all the LinkedIn sections allows individuals to both keep track of their experiences and accomplishments in their life, and also helps showcase these talents and skills to other individuals. But remember, do not just throw down quick information to complete each section. Instead, think strategically about word choice and the way you want to communicate your information to others.

Once the profile is up and running, it is time to make connections. By adding connections with other individuals, others will be able to see and explore your profile. When adding connections,  some individuals add anyone to increase their connection numbers.  Others prefer to make connections only with individuals whom they personally know. If one simply has hundreds of connections but does not take advantage of what these connections could offer, it defeats the purpose. Connections help individuals stay in contact with old classmates, colleagues or friends, make professional connections for future jobs, receive advice from others in their field of study, and share information among groups. With the email address used to create a LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn will automatically suggest connections to individuals in your email list who have a LinkedIn account with that similar email. One can also look for connections by searching for their name, a company name, a specific industry, or a school name. There are so many benefits that LinkedIn provides, but it is up to the individual to leverage how best to take advantage of these features.

LinkedIn also allows individuals to create a custom URL to their profile. The URL that comes with a profile is normally a group of random letters and numbers. In just a couple of minutes, one can create a custom URL, such as his/her name. If the name is already taken, one can try to add a middle initial or add his/her middle name completely. Also, one way to get involved on LinkedIn is through groups. Individuals can join professional groups which share information or advice among members, and post or search for jobs. Groups allow individuals to communicate between one another and to expand their knowledge. It is a great way to meet new individuals and make new connections. Anyone with a LinkedIn profile can create a group that can be customized to the topic they are interested in. LinkedIn provides a free service, but it also has an option for individuals to pay for more features. For college students, the free version of LinkedIn is a great way to put together an online resume, but also get a start exploring the professional world for after graduation.

LinkedIn for Carroll University Students:

In addition, LinkedIn has a feature called “find alumni”. This feature allows one to look for alumni that attended their same university. After selecting this tab, a page is brought up with all the alumni and that can be sorted by their college concentrations, current area living, interests, skills or current job placement.  This feature allows one to see where your peers are currently living in the world and how they are using their skills in their career paths. Also, individuals can look at other professionals’ profiles to get tips and advice on opportunities alumni pursued to obtain jobs or even possible organizations to could work for. The find alumni tools is a great starting point to explore possible career options, connect with alumni that share similar interests, or get inspiration for volunteer activities or clubs to join while still at the university.

LinkedIn is very beneficial for business purposes. One may want to find a job sooner than the usual applying to multiple different places. One is able to put just his/her information out on this website and have others looking for them. Their information is on there just as if their resume would be. People are able to look up certain students, adults, business partners, etc. on LinkedIn and possibly find someone they could potentially hire for a position they have opening for at their business. Also, LinkedIn is very useful in connecting with others you may have known from a past job experience, high school, college, etc.

Posted by Professor David Simpson

Professor of Psychology, Carroll University (USA), Lover of Dogs, Reading, Teaching and Learning. Looking for ways to enhance cross-global communication and to apply technology learning tools.