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Transform your social footprint – why every student should be on LinkedIn

The only social media platform that should matter to students.

Today each and every one of us has a “social footprint”. Since the halcyon days of encyclopedias and dial-up internet are now outdated, there’s been a big upgrade in how we communicate. In recent light of the controversial data protection issues Facebook has been caught in, it’s evident that the role of social media and digitisation plays a crucial role in our everyday lives.

Our world is a communication tsunami

The unintended consequences of our digital culture have created plenty of powerful opportunities that are destined to land in the hands of those actively utilising social media to their advantage. Now, more than ever, the ethos of collaboration and integration rings loudly in the ears of many. The world is buzzing with hives of connectivity and interaction. The flurry of the digital space has our minds darting from one tweet/notification/post to the next.

Most people nowadays have a social media footprint, so the opportunity students have to strategise unique ways to transform their social footprint into an adequate springboard to land them in exciting career paths is easily accessible.

The fundamental concepts that make social media the innovative and influential platform that it is plays into the psychology of the everyday consumer. As people we desire community. Inherently, humans have the habitual instinct of making connections and being with people. The feeling of building friendships and connections between people is the “binding glue”. In this same manner, social media is an example of such, but on a heightened scale. It encapsulates a web of communities, leaning out to one another where its connectivity is sourced from the ideas and conversations of its members.

The impact of social media

So we’ve got the endless Twitter feuds, some nonsensical Instagram memes that may be your catchphrase for the next two weeks, and the occasional Snapchats from your friend’s party last night… I haven’t even mentioned the likes of Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr (my favourites).

Social media — love it or hate it, our world has seen its share of the impact it can have. With 2.46 billion social media users globally, in this present day, that’s a whole lot of social footprints we’ve amassed. LinkedIn has managed to score gold when it comes to building yourself up in the direction of your career. LinkedIn may not be the most popular among its fellow companions (or rather competitors) such as Facebook and Twitter, but the pivotal role LinkedIn has played with regards to networking and professional development is hard to argue with.

Five reasons why students should be using LinkedIn:
1. Standard CV vs professional online presence

Prospective employers will MOST DEFINITELY Google you, so it’s imperative to create a good first impression. LinkedIn is the largest online platform where you can create an online resume for free in a matter of seconds. Gone are the days of paper CVs, and the traditional “one page only” rule for a resume is now obsolete. Professional online networking platforms such as LinkedIn employ a fresh and novel narrative to the concept of recruiting/hiring employees. LinkedIn employs the usage of the digital world, which renders the debate about size irrelevant. How cool is that? With such a powerful stance in networking and career development, all students should take advantage of this booming platform.

2. Pick up your pen (or cursor rather) and START!

Stand out, sell yourself, engage with posts and curate your content. LinkedIn, to a certain degree, is about a moderate amount of ethical self-promotion. Use this platform to demonstrate how the skills you have acquired have enabled to envision yourself.

 

 

“When everyone looks exactly the same, you become indistinguishable and then you’re really at risk of being replaced by someone with, say, equivalent experience and some personality. Who you are as a person is as important to landing the work as your hard-earned credentials, so increase your prospects by injecting personality into that bio.” – Kelly Hoey

The skills section is a key element of a LinkedIn profile, where students can list the skills they have accrued and are currently developing. Here, the endorsement of skills can increase the validation of said skills. Show your interests, make your brand uniquely you — portray what would make you “employable”. Do you have a blog space? Are you creating content through media and film? Involved in any societies/clubs? Are you a public speaker? Are you a student ambassador/university faculty officer? Do you have any causes that you are passionate about? If so, then that’s your chance to market those skills and sell yourself.

A great headline is a great head start — be bold but not corny. Avoid using cheesy colloquialisms which ultimately squander your chance to create a lasting first impression, but be prepared to show some zeal. You’ve started by using LinkedIn, push yourself out of the box with a great introduction of yourself. This is akin to giving your mentor/future boss a strong handshake, good eye contact and a smile — it can’t start better than that, can it?

3. You (yes you) are your own professional brand

No matter which area you’re planning to delve into, you are your own brand! It’s important to carry such mindset and work towards building a “likeable face”. Attending professional conferences, seminars and events as a student is a great way to interact with industry experts. They are the perfect places to network and get acquainted with up-and-coming trends and emerging topics to further help you understand your respective industry.

4. It’s not just about what you know but who you know

Connections with industries/companies of interest are the golden key. Your potential summer internship/placement could very well be situated in the lap of a future connection. Connections with alumni is another great tool for searching for potential associates that are alongside your career path.

5. Continue to learn, grow and adapt

Write down a list of companies that you can envision yourself working with. Read about what others have said about the organisation and what the hiring process is like — have any previous alumni been there before? Remember to keep your social footprint professional! Keep learning, keep creating/working towards your goals and keep growing and networking. Your LinkedIn is akin to an extension of your professional development.

Remember: The “magic bean” of success is non-existent – time and active engagement will bring to fruition the fruits of your labour

LinkedIn is a powerful, multi-purpose tool. It is a job board, a learning resource, a portfolio, a research device, a professional forum to connect, a branding/marketing tool, a reference sheet and much more. LinkedIn is also an under-utilised resource. When used strategically, social media can be a powerful form of research and professional development. It is evident that social media is continuing to thrive and with platforms like LinkedIn, students can prove to be adaptable, professional and most importantly employable.

“If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be.”― Dale Carnegie

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