[Updated from a blog post from September 2009]

As PR students are nearing the end of their college careers and beginning their job searches, one of the most powerful online tools for them is the business networking site LinkedIn. Creating a profile in LinkedIn is a requirement in my PR Practicum class and is recommended for ALL my PR students.

What’s LinkedIn? In the site’s own words,

“Your professional network of trusted contacts gives you an advantage in your career, and is one of your most valuable assets. LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return. Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. We believe that in a global connected economy, your success as a professional and your competitiveness as a company depends upon faster access to insight and resources you can trust.”

So far, I’ve used LinkedIn to:

  • research companies we are discussing in class
  • ask questions of other public relations professionals
  • connect with colleagues from previous jobs
  • write recommendations for current and former colleagues
  • find guest speakers for classes
  • share my professional background with students who only know me as a professor

LinkedIn provides some helpful advice for college students.  In summary, the advice is:

  1. Present yourself (create a profile)
  2. Get connected (network!)
  3. Spread the good word (write and ask for recommendations)

This short video explains a bit further.

Also, soon-to-be grads should take a look at Chris Brogan’s 19-page eBook “Using the Social Web to Find Work.” Visit Chris’ site and scroll down to his fifth paragraph for the PDF. (I chose not to link to it directly because I want you to visit his site first. ) Chris includes many, many tips on using LinkedIn and other sites.

When you set up your profile in LinkedIn, consider also doing the following:

  • Create a custom URL for your profile to make it easier for people to find you (and because it will look nicer on your resume)
  • Include a good headshot photo of yourself, looking as professional as possible. No pictures where you can see that you cropped out (most of) the person next to you.
  • Add Applications to LinkedIn, such as a feed from your blog or SlideShare. Only add Twitter if 100% of your tweets are ones that you’d want a potential employer to read.

How do YOU use LinkedIn? How have you benefitted from it? Please share your thoughts as a comment below.

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15 Responses to Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn

  1. Barbara, this is an excellent post. I signed up on Linkedin nearly two years ago in my junior year of college, after my Intro to Advertising teacher harped on its importance for professionals in communications, however, I was skeptical of its uses. Though I found a few friends, my profile stayed pretty bare for months. Until one day this spring, when I read an article on Mashable about the site again, and decided to log back in. I saw it with a new perspective, and sought to build up my profile.

    I can tell you now, it’s been a great decision. Spending some time is one of the most productive uses of Internet time that currently exists for PR and communications professionals. The people I’ve exchanged words with, gotten advice from, and connected with, I probably wouldn’t have been able to meet any other way.

    Each time I get a recommendation from a co-worker or associate, my credibility as an experienced goes up, and I make sure to return the favor where appropriate. Answering questions can be an amazing display of expertise, if you choose your questions carefully and are thorough in your responses. All great ways for a new PR grad to truly prove that they can do the job, without emailing in their resume.

    And the main reason why Linkedin seems to be an excellent choice: it’s a HUB. Professionals (read: young execs, the businessmen and women of the future, your future bosses, co-workers, clients, etc.) are ALL signing up for the site by the thousands, daily. You don’t want to miss out on the chance to connect with the people who will have an impact on your career.

    Again, great article, Barbara. Just thought I’d add my two cents.

    Robert A. Burns, II – Public Relations & New Media Specialist

    http://www.RobertBurns.com || http://www.linkedin.com/in/RobertBurnsII

  2. […] — here’s a link to a blog post I wrote earlier this year about using LinkedIn in the job search. The post was aimed at college […]

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Barbara B. Nixon, Barbara B. Nixon, ValerieSimon, Kellye Crane, DR4WARD and others. DR4WARD said: Are you on LinkedIn? Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn http://bit.ly/daG6v5 via @BarbaraNixon #mktg425 #mktg441 […]

  4. Jack Leblond says:

    I’ve used LinkedIn to conduct research both in and outside of my industry, if you’ve got a question you want expert answers to, post it there. Of course, you may get a lot more than you bargained for.

    As for people I have “connections” with, I only seek or allow people I would be willing to recommend to a potential employer. Just because we swapped cards at a trade show, or you follow me on twitter is not enough.

    Defiantly do not connect your twitter stream to your bio. Not because it *might* have something you don’t want them to see (more on that in a minute), but because twitter is not a reference, it’s a conversation.

    Barbara mentioned not to connect Twitter to LinkedIn because you *might* have something in your stream that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. I’ve got news for you – a recent study showed that more than 60% of HR professional conduct web searches on candidates before making conducting interviews. A better rule might be; if there is something you wouldn’t want you mother, father, spouse, boss – anyone to see…don’t put it on the internet.

    If you haven’t yet (I bet you have) Google yourself to see just what a potential employer will see. You might be surprised. It’s never too soon to think about reputation management.

  5. Claire Celsi says:

    I like the feature on LinkedIn that allows you to update your “status” from Twitter. LinkedIn is only valuable (in my opinion) if you stay on someone’s active radar. So once a week or so, when you’re tweeting, include the hashtag #in and your tweet will automatically update your LinkedIn status, and therefore land in the “status updates” email that your LinkedIn connections read every week. That way, your name is out there a lot more often.

    Love your blog, Barbara. You’re my inspiration! Claire

  6. Great post Barbara… LinkedIn is an extremely valuable tool for building new relationships and staying in touch with your network. I’d encourage studednts to join industry related groups (there is a maximum of 50). Once you are a member of a group, you can send a private message to any other members of the groups. Use LinkedIn to learn more about those you meet on Twitter and through “Real Life” networking events. As your students begin their job search, I would highly recommend they use the advanced search feature to find those who work for organizations they want to work about at. Follow them on Twitter, watch their LI status updates… find reasons to begin building new relationships! I only invite those that I have gotten to know to connect, but LinkedIn can provide a great way to help me find those people I want to get to know… and a means to get to know them!

  7. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by PRStarbase: PR Matters: Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn…http://bit.ly/daG6v5

  8. […] Very true! RT @BarbaraNixon: [Blog]: Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn [link to post] #prentry (via […]

  9. […] Very true! RT @BarbaraNixon: [Blog]: Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn [link to post] […]

  10. […] 2010-02-02T04:33:08  [Blog]: Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn [link to post] […]

  11. […] 2010-02-02T04:33:07  PR Matters: Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn…[link to post] […]

  12. […] 2010-02-02T04:23:13  Great post mentions @chrisbrogan's LinkedIn for job finding RT @BarbaraNixon [Blog]: Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn [link to post] […]

  13. Andrew says:

    LinkedIn is great. Also, HR people are now on Twitter and FB as well

    PR at Sunrise blog – worob.com
    @Worob – Twitter

  14. […] Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn (posted 8 September 2009) […]

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