LinkedIn: Picture Not Mine.

LinkedIn 101 for the College Grad: Passive Networking

Disclaimer: All of these tips are base on the free, non-paid version of LinkedIn that anyone can sign up for. I’ve never used nor claim to have absolute knowledge on LinkedIn Premium. If I ever do so, I’ll be sure to update the post accordingly or create a new one.

Most college graduates and students have been faced with the idea of networking. Unfortunately, nowadays even more of us don’t come from situations where we have a large amount of contacts within the field that we’re interested in. Because of that, even with the help of your career counselors and academic advisors it’s still very easy to feel lost, or just generally out of touch on how to gain information and start networking towards one’s career.

While the eventual goal should be to establish contacts, I believe that for college students and graduates one of the goals should be to use your affinity for social media to establish “passive networking”. I define passive networking as a networking form that is done through the collection and distribution of information. Of all the ways to share content or information, social media is the quickest and easiest channel.

So which channel should you use for passive networking methods? I believe this can be done through various social media sites, but for college students, it’s better to use an already established network for professional connections. With all that being said, here are my tips and recommendations for successful passive social media networking using LinkedIn.

Share Content In Groups: While status content updates are incredibly helpful – I do it all the time myself – it can be incredibly useful to share your content inside industry-relevant groups. To do so, you should work on having an active presence with your group and share articles that you think would be relevant or helpful. At the same time, work your way up to moving your own content. Be open to criticism, and look for ways to ramp up your blogging skills. You obviously know you should be writing all the time in college, right?

Use LinkedIn for Volunteering: I’m sure by how you’ve seen the plenty of articles that reference volunteering as a way to expand your career during the job search. LinkedIn recognized this, and created a section to advertise volunteering opportunities. Volunteering should always be an important asset for the civically engaged person, but it’s also a good way to connect to people outside of your immediate network.

Besides making connections, you can use volunteer opportunities to hone your skills towards a cause you care about. Use it as a way to network while also giving back within your own community.

Embed Your Work into Your Profile: Whether you’re a writer or an engineer, one of the nice things about college life is that there’s a chance for you to write a paper or do research that is uniquely your own creation (with proper source citing I hope). Over time, LinkedIn has created a host of applications that allow you to embed your work. Here’s a guide to which providers are approved to link content.

The best feature of this is that it essentially gives you the ability to implement an online portfolio without making one’s own website. If you do plan on having a website later down the road your LinkedIn profile can be a “storage” of sorts for whatever info you want to host there. (Side Note: If you want to create a personal website right away, here’s an amazing guide on how to do so).

Overall, the goal should be to build up your profile as much as possible. Utilize your own great ideas to create content that you can share amongst your network. Good luck and be sure to leave a comment if you have any extra tips or questions!

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