3 February 2021
While we are all in lockdown the opportunity to network is reduced, right? Well yes, face-to-face networking (which fills most people with dread) is less likely but lockdown allows us to network remotely and risk free with LinkedIn!
LinkedIn has been described as the Facebook for professionals, was launched in 2003 and now has over 760 million users across the world. In the UK, the site has approximately 29 million users which means 1 in 2 adults have an account!
It is the perfect place to start your networking journey, is not as scary as you think and can be a great way of building your connections, researching careers, understanding businesses and organisations, joining special interest groups and connecting with previous students from ARU, via the alumni tool.
The site is easy to navigate and students get full functionality without paying a monthly fee. Knowing what your profile should look like can be tricky but take a step back and think to yourself: what do I want a potential contact to know about me?
Start off with your degree details, university societies you are part of, volunteering, student rep duty, work through ARU Temps and any previous employment – all of which will evidence your skills, knowledge and experience.
A good head and shoulders photo is important. You don’t need a professional photo shoot, just make sure your background is clear and it’s not taken on a night out with a drink in hand! No matter how you crop the photo it still doesn’t show you in the best light.
The next step is to start connecting. Begin with friends, family, course peers, Student Union members and lecturers. You can also connect with your Employability & Careers Advisers.
One tip is to always add a note to those you are sending invites to, asking them to connect and giving a reason. Not only is this good manners but also makes the person more likely to accept.
This is especially useful when you are reaching out to those people you don’t necessarily know. They may be ARU alumni, people you have met at careers fairs or other events while at university, those working in companies you want to work for, or HR managers who are advertising vacancies.
The risk-free element is that if someone doesn’t want to connect with you, then you are no worse off than before you invited them. Just be aware of trying to connect with too many people in a short space of time. I’ve known over-eager students who have sent out several hundred connections in a day and have had a ban from LinkedIn for just this very thing.
The company pages on LinkedIn are a gold mine of information, especially when it comes to undertaking live briefs in your modules, looking for internships and placements, job applications and interviews. Follow those companies of interest and when they post it will go into your news feed. Use company pages to understand who they recruit, and ultimately connect to those who are hiring.
As a student at ARU you also have free access to LinkedIn Learning. These online courses cover a range of topics from InDesign and Unity software to project management. When completed, you have the option to add the certificate to your LinkedIn account. A great way to show your skills and boost your profile!
LinkedIn can seem daunting at first, but stick with it. A recent graduate I worked with set up a profile in their first year of study. They connected to people met at careers fairs and guest lecturers on their course. During their final year they contacted those connections, explaining they were graduating soon and asking for advice on next steps.
A company they were following advertised a job and a connection knew the hiring manager and was able to guide the student on what they look for in an application. The graduate was subsequently interviewed and offered the job! Using LinkedIn gave an advantage and made preparation for the job market that bit easier.
Want to know more? See the Employability & Careers Service events listings for upcoming LinkedIn Masterclass sessions. You can also find further information about LinkedIn in the Careers Centre's resources section.
Jen Little, Employability & Careers Advisor