I have long been singing the praises of the leading professional networking site, LinkedIn. While college students may be years away from starting their professional careers, they will benefit from starting to grow their network now. Networking is an activity that takes time and will most likely not reap instant rewards. It takes an investment, but if done correctly, it can offer a huge return on investment. The college years are a perfect time to start building your network, as it may pay dividends come graduation. Especially during these challenging economic times, it is important to gain a competitive edge. The tough job market is unavoidable: there are 5 people for every job in the United States. And many of the jobs that students will be applying to will have considerably more than 5 applicants.
Recent graduates often lament that employers may not offer them employment because they lack work experience. There are two solutions to that problem:
- do internships during your college years,
- and begin to network during that time.
Knowing other working professionals in your are of expertise can be a great equalizer.
LinkedIn is a great online tool to help anyone get started. It is a great way to meet people, share ideas, search for people, organize, and keep in touch with your contacts. And the basic membership is free! And because it is the most widely used online professional networking site, just about everyone is on it.
Included in this post, are the links of some features that the LinkedIn staff have made especially for students. This link is the starter page for students. Other tutorials include How To Build A Professional Profile, How To Network Professionally, and How To Conduct Essential Employer Research.
Here is a link to a past post on How To Network Like A Pro. Listed in the article are some good tips on how to expand your network and to maximize your networking efforts.
Posted here is a list of networking sites other than LinkedIn, that may be of interest to you.
Last, but not least, is a quick reference guide, “Networking For Young Professionals” that I posted on this blog under the pages section.