My day job is being an accounting professor. I teach financial accounting and cost/managerial accounting in equal measure. This fall, I’ve had the most unusual teaching assignment, a class titled Social Media, Blogging and Business. Having to teach the class has made me more aware of potential social media uses by students.
I recommend that students use Linkedin to professionally present themselves via social media. Simultaneously, I recommend that students don’t use Facebook (or use Facebook only under a pseudonym).
Why? As future professional and possibly future leaders, students should be concerned with their brand image. There is no way to control it with the informality and personal revelations of Facebook. However, it can be proactively managed on Linkedin.
Once a student has signed up for an account at Linkedin.com, the fun can begin. Here are ways to take advantage of Linkedin’s many features.
- Create a comprehensive profile. Make it visible to everyone. You are making no personal revelations here, only providing information that is available on your resume. You have already sent those out by the hundreds, haven’t you?
- Invite your college professors to connect and join your network. Not all of your professors are on Linkedin, but some undoubtedly are. Most professors will be eager for the chance to stay connected with you after graduation.
- Ask your professors to write a Linkedin recommendation for you. The value of a positive recommendation should be obvious.
- Invite your fellow students to connect and join your network. They are your friends now, and can be your friends for a long time if you nurture the relationship. More than friends, they form the core of your professional network. Years after college, they can be helpful with business referrals and help in locating new positions.
- Make Linkedin the home page on your browser. Viewing your network activity makes you aware of what people in your network are doing. You should check it every day.
- Update your profile URL to your name, if possible (this is mine). Put this URL on your resume and business cards. If you have a blog, add a link to your Linkedin profile.
- Join Linkedin discussion groups related to your major and your school. Every college’s business school should have its own group. Occasionally post a question or an update.
- Always remember that Linkedin is not Facebook. You should not post personal photos, nor engage in unprofessional conversations. Remember, no one wants to know what you ate for breakfast, or what you did on Saturday night. They are interested if you are looking for a new position, recently found a new one, or acquired an important competency. Business people are busy, and will disconnect you if you send out too many or too frivolous status updates.
- Include a professional photograph (i.e., business suit).
- Always keep your e-mail and phone number current. Remember to change these after graduation.
- Send a personal note to anyone joining your network. Saying thank you has never gone out of style.
I hope this helps.
– – David Albrecht