Posted At: February 1, 2013 1:30 P.M.
by Caroline Murray
Historically, when discussing social media with respect to networking, the focus has been on keeping beer pong off your Facebook profile and profanity out of your tweets. But one growing social media site, LinkedIn, has given professionals (and aspiring professionals) a space to connect and network.
Social networking has become a popular recruiting tactic in the PR field. When used to its full potential, LinkedIn is a great place to make professional connections that can be taken offline.
LINKEDIN IS NOT FACEBOOK
While it might seem obvious, you have to be constantly cognizant of the environmental differences between LinkedIn and other social media sites. Facebook is great for catching up with your friends, and LinkedIn is great for developing yourself as a professional.
When you’re choosing a profile picture, keep that in mind. Choose something professional and conservative. You don’t have to have a professional headshot done, but keep it simple. If you’re looking to be a public relations professional, you have to present yourself in a way that makes it clear that you understand the value of the overall image of a brand (which in this case, is you).
By the same token, be choosy about what you connect with your LinkedIn profile. This article has some great tips in it, but college students in particular should be wary of what content they connect with their professional profile. Connecting your blog and Twitter to your LinkedIn profile is a great way to stay engaged with your professional network – if your content is professional. If you just use Twitter to say funny things to your friends, keep it off LinkedIn.
USE YOUR NETWORK
Connecting with people you don’t know can lower the credibility of your LinkedIn profile, but do not hesitate to connect with people you do know. Professors, former employers, your parents’ friends and classmates are all invaluable resources when it comes to networking; use them! If they have a connection to a company or agency you are interested in, send them a message asking an intelligent question.
LinkedIn can also be a great place to prepare for interviews. Many times you are told the name of the interviewer you’ll be meeting, so take the opportunity to check out her profile. Find out what the interviewer does for the firm, and ask questions that reflect that you’ve done your research.
The News tab of LinkedIn is a really easy way to get interesting news about your field, all in one place. You can customize your news feed and follow your industry of choice. From marketing and PR to social media and technology to everything in between, LinkedIn provides a great variety of interesting articles.
Every day, you can read some of the hottest and most relevant stories from the field aggregated in one place. It is a quick and easy way to stay informed, as well as find good sources of information.
You can also follow companies. This is a great resource for job hunting. A lot of companies’ feeds are filled with new hires, so you can see the kind of jobs they have available. It can be hard to figure out whether or not companies hire interns on their website; LinkedIn will tell you immediately. Additionally, you can see how your network is connected to the company.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, get one!