During your life you will create a professional network. You will build relationships and trust with other people to help you reach your goals. This networking can connect you with different resources.
During your life you will create a professional network. You will build relationships and trust with other people to help you reach your goals. This networking can connect you with different resources. We often deal with our networks every day, without really thinking about it. For example, if you want a suggestion for a new restaurant, you probably ask a friend. To look for a job opportunity you might talk to a family member, counsellor, teacher, or people you have met through your current job and networking experiences.
So how do you build up your professional network? Start with yourself and look at what your goals are. Then ask yourself, who do you know, and who do you need to know, to help you reach your goals. Remember networking is give and take. Think about your skills and knowledge so you can offer help to others when you ask for opportunities or connections.
If you know what kind of field you want to be in, you can look into meetings or social events that are set up by different associations. For example, if you are interested in a health related job, look into clubs at your school that support different health projects (or start your own club). Be smart about who you decide to work with so you can nurture those relationships over time. If you have a contact that may be able to connect you to even more people, that person can be an ally you want to keep for a long time.
Volunteering is also an important part of building up your network. If you volunteer for organizations you care about or want to work with in the future, you can create relationships with people who already work at your ideal job. They might even be able to connect you to paid jobs within the company.
Set up an online professional profile on LinkedIn
Sometimes potential employers will ask for a link to a professional portfolio or LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a social network for professionals who want to build their network and gain connections. Sometimes you might even see the option to use your LinkedIn profile as a resume if you apply for jobs online.
Tips for a successful LinkedIn Profile:
- Fill out every single section of your profile. This is an important part of making the most effective LinkedIn Profile! Take the time to fill out every section, and don’t forget to add your contact information. Get personal and put in your activities, interests and achievements. Show off yourself and your experiences to your connections. Bonus: Create a new email address to be used for professional purposes. Generally an address with your name and a couple numbers (no more than 2) will work. For example firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Choose your profile photo carefully. That photo of you doing a sweet backflip might be great, but it’s probably not the best for a professional profile. Choose a photo that shows your face clearly – without the use of any obvious filters. Make sure your outfit is one you would wear to work. Also, be sure to choose a background that isn’t distracting. You’re the star here!
- Write in the first person. Use “I” when writing your profile. This will make it more personal for the person reading it. For example, saying “I am currently a student at the XX University” sounds a lot friendlier than “John Smith is currently a student at XX University.” When you use this first person approach, it helps create a connection to the person who may want to reach out to you and helps you create our own story and make it our own.
- Include information under “current job” even if you’re unemployed. If you say that you’re a student or in transition, it will help job recruiters find you on LinkedIn. Do not include untrue qualifications or job histories. But, if you say you are a “Full-Time Student” followed by “Seeking New Opportunity” it will fill your profile with education qualifications and help employers find you when they use the search bar.
- Don’t add people you don’t know (or haven’t met personally). It can be tempting to try to grow your network, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Just because someone has added you, doesn’t mean you should always add them. This is for your own privacy and you should always be careful about who you decide to connect with online.
- When in doubt, look around for ideas. Sometimes it can be hard to express what you want to say, or think of ways to describe yourself. Look up sample resumes or at other LinkedIn profiles for key words you can use.
Starting out on LinkedIn can be very exciting. It is a chance to have a connection with people you only know in a professional setting. This can help you keep your other social networks separate from your work life too. Linked also provides blog posts to help keep your profile updated and help you find new opportunities.
Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.