8 Reasons Why You (Students, Bloggers, and Professionals) Should Have a LinkedIn Profile

“LinkedIn? But isn’t that for…old people? Who are super professional?”

or

“I already have Facebook and Twitter. I don’t need another social network to take up my time!”

These are the two most common responses I’ve heard whenever I talk about LinkedIn, or read around the Internet.  There are so many social networks out there, and it’s hard to know which ones are worth your time. As a student or blogger, you may gravitate toward the typical ones — Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even Google +. However, if you want to be serious about your schooling, career, or whatever your professional goals are, you need to be on LinkedIn. I suggest that the power of LinkedIn can outweigh that of Facebook and Twitter, if you use it correctly.

Why You need to be on linkedIn

I registered with LinkedIn back in 2011. To be honest, I really didn’t do anything with it until about a year ago, when I was applying for an internship. For the application, I had to come up with a creative way to show why I should be picked. So I created a YouTube video, and decided to have it link to my LinkedIn page, rather than sending a traditional resume. At that point, my LinkedIn profile looked pretty rough. So I spruced it up, submitted it, and guess what — I got the job. It probably wasn’t solely because of my “impressive” LinkedIn profile, but I imagine it didn’t hurt my chances.

Since then, I’ve discovered the power of using LinkedIn, both as a student, a blogger, and a new college graduate. It’s not like other social networks, as it does have a more professional feel to it, but it is a powerful tool that more people should take advantage of. Not convinced? Here’s nine reasons why you should consider having a LinkedIn profile.

1 – Niche Groups

Beyond being able to display your work and schooling history, publications, awards, or certifications, LinkedIn has tons of groups that you can join. I’ve seen groups for a specific department at my school, to communities of mommy bloggers, to political groups. If you are writing for a specific niche, I can almost guarantee there’s a group for it on LinkedIn. If you are starting college, try and search out your university, or even the specific department you are a part of. This can help you find out about different opportunities and internships. Or if you are a blogger, search for your niche. And when you join the group — be active! Share your posts, and comment on others discussions. It will help build your name.

Also in these groups, people can post different jobs, which can be helpful if you are looking for work in that particular area. If you are active in the group, it might give you an advantage over other candidates for the job, especially if the person doing the hiring recognizes you. Connections mean everything when it comes to getting a job. Here are a few groups that are fairly active on LinkedIn that I think bloggers could probably be interested in.

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Food Bloggers Connection
Linked Food Bloggers Network
Foodie
International Arts and Crafts Network
Professional Bloggers
Freelance Writers
Global Blogger Network
Mom Blogger Network
Parenting 2.0
Social Media Marketing

2 – Leads for jobs

Believe it or not, there are many companies that scour LinkedIn for potential candidates. It’s an easy, non-intrusive way to view a person’s job history, skill set, and even endorsements (more on this later), and deciding whether or not they are worth pursuing.

I’m not actively looking for other jobs, but LinkedIn has given me opportunities for freelancing positions with different companies. On several occasions, I’ve had companies reach out to me to do different writing jobs for them, specifically because of the qualifications they saw I had — particularly with healthcare communication writing. They were able to see some of the posts I had written and shared on LinkedIn, and knew I was capable of the job at hand. They didn’t have to go through the trouble of posting the job they were looking for, sifting through resumes, and hoping they picked the right person. They simple searched for the type of person they wanted, and viola, they were instantly given different candidates.

LinkedIn also has lots of job listings, and it’s easy to find what you are looking for. And, if you are signed up for email updates, each week you can get an email with job leads specific for your skill set. If I was looking for a job outside the home, this would be so helpful, because I’ve been notified of quite a few jobs I hadn’t heard of elsewhere.

3 – Builds Traffic

When you install social media share buttons on your site, have you noticed that there is usually a LinkedIn button? And how many of us ignore it? I know I did for the longest time, until my boss over at Healthcare Scene suggested I start sharing some posts on it. And guess what — traffic increased on those posts a ton. People interacted both on the post on LinkedIn, and on the blog. Not only did it bring people to the blog, I was able to connect with people who were also interested in this topic, and build some bridges and my name within that particular niche.

In the blogging business, any little bit of traffic helps, right? And I think with LinkedIn, you are more likely to build a lifelong reader than you are from a random person that comes from Pinterest. So hopefully they will be willing to come back, and maybe even share your post if they liked it.

4 – Networking

LinkedIn is the best way to connect with the heads of companies and businesses. Many popular brands are a part of LinkedIn as well. You might be able to find the direct contact information for someone in charge of hiring or PR, rather than hoping to get a response from the generic contact information listed on a website. Because let me tell you, at least fifty percent of the time, you won’t get a response from one of those emails. This can be helpful for people trying to find a blog, or for bloggers trying to connect with a specific brand.

5 – Improve Image and Reputation

It’s getting more and more important to have an established, online presence in today’s world. Companies will often look at a person’s social networks to find out more about them, and see if they are a good fit for them. Having a LinkedIn profile will help potential employers or companies that may want to work with you find your professional experience quickly. It’s easier for them to see what kind of work you’ve done, things you’ve had published, etc. if it’s on LinkedIn, rather than relying on Google to bring up the most relevant information. Plus, you can highlight certain aspects of your career that you most want people to see.

Again, participating in groups on LinkedIn can help with this as well. If someone sees you contributing to a discussion, with intelligent, well-informed thoughts, they might remember you. It can help you become more of an authority figure in your field, and build a reputation.

6 – Get Ahead of Peers

In 2011, the average age for users of LinkedIn was between 35 an 50 years old. So if you are a college student, now is the perfect time to get on LinkedIn. Not only will you stand out as a young professional, but you may be able to find internships (or even jobs) that you may not have found otherwise. Because there aren’t as many young people on LinkedIn, if someone sees a well-thought out profile highlighting your experience, they may be impressed, and feel inclined to reach out to you.

And for bloggers, getting on LinkedIn will put give you an advantage over many other bloggers. I always hear people talking about how bloggers have to get on Google+, which I do agree with. But I feel the same way about LinkedIn.

7 – Promote yourself Professionally

I already mentioned how you can build your reputation on LinkedIn, but you can also build your professional profile. You can highlight things that you think best highlight your skills, and, you can get endorsements from other people. I think this is one of the most valuable parts of LinkedIn. Anyone that has worked with you can write a brief endorsement for you, which is visible for anyone who looks at your profile. People can also endorse certain qualities or skills that you claim to have. These endorsements will make you stand out in a crowd — no matter what area you work in. Which brings me to my next point…

You need to have a strong network on LinkedIn to begin with. If someone looks at your profile, and sees that you have like five connections, that will seem a lot less impressive than the person with 150. And without connections, you can’t get the endorsements that will make your profile shine! LinkedIn does a great job of suggesting possible connections, and I think one of the best things to do is, periodically, go through the suggestions and add anyone that you’ve worked with, or quite frankly, anyone you know. There are a lot of random suggestions, but don’t stop scrolling if you don’t recognize someone. Random people you know will be littered throughout the suggestions, especially when you start having more connections. One of the nice things about LinkedIn is that you aren’t adding people to see their status updates and pictures, or see what they do on a day-to-day basis. It’s truly for on a professional basis, and you don’t have to feel weird about adding your old boss or co-workers, which can be awkward to do on Facebook.

8 – Getting Informed

If you become active on LinkedIn, especially in the groups, you will more than likely learn something new. When I’m perusing my different groups, I often find interesting articles or opinions I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. On one occasion, a nurse commented on a post that I wrote where I mentioned my Vitamin D deficiency. She immediately reached out to me, and gave me more insight on Vitamin D deficiencies than any other medical professional had done!

In addition, I’ve found great inspiration for articles and blog posts that I’ve written from LinkedIn. Sometimes, something someone says in a group sparks a thought in my mind, which later

Whether you just graduated from school, are in the midst of your college career, have a successful business career, or are just trying to make a name for yourself, sign up right now. You won’t regret it. If you need help setting up your profile, and would like someone to make sure yours is optimized for what you are looking for, feel free to send me an email. I’d be happy to help you out (and, if I know you, give you an endorsement!) And while you are at it, come connect with Forrest and me on LinkedIn.
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