Friday, April 19, 2019

How To Set Up Your LinkedIn and Networking Tips with The YoPro Know

After such a great response to the past two days of job-related posts (Where To Look For Jobs + Resume And Cover Letter Tips and Ways To Make An Impression In An Interview), I know that y'all will love today's post. When thinking about sharing my "wisdom" on LinkedIn, I had to laugh because I've only had one for about a year and am certainly not an expert. Instead, I kept thinking about how my friend Kamber would be so much better at discussing the topic since she is one of the best networkers I know. She recently started her own blog, The YoPro Know so I knew that writing a blog post may not sound as intimidating to her as it would some other friends. I am thrilled for her to dive into just about everything you need to know about LinkedIn for those of you both in the beginning stages of making it and those of you looking to polish yours as you begin to seek out employment.

Kamber and I met at Furman's Accepted Students' Day before we even began as freshmen there. Admittedly her name is still saved in my phone as Kamber Parker (FU Accepted Students Day). She happened to live in the same building as me, we both joined Kappa Delta, and eventually were on KD exec together. I always joked that her role as VP-Operations was my paper president since she so diligently kept the chapter running smoothly. If y'all think that I'm productive then I wish I could introduce you all in person to Kamber. She gracefully manages so many different passions in a way that encourages me to become more involved. I think that is part of what makes her such a great networker. 

Before I hand the reigns over to Kamber, I have one last casual work outfit to share with you, but I'll keep it brief. Like I've mentioned, my office has a very laid back dress code. I love that that allows me to express my personal style more than I'd be able to in a more traditional setting but it does mean that I often wear the same pieces from work to weekend. This affordable jumpsuit is one of those pieces. It's perfectly appropriate for my office (and incredibly comfortable), but I've also worn it to a vineyard on vacation. I love the ruffled sleeves, cinched waist, and blue and white stripes that make it perfect for spring and summer. Paired with brown flatform sandals (similar) and my everyday jewelry it is an easy piece to throw on especially when I have after work plans that I still want to look cute for. 

jumpsuit (other colors here, I got it in a size Small Tall) // shoes (similar)  // watch (nearly identical Michele watch on sale for $368 off) // bracelets (1 & 2)

Now here's Kamber:

Hey there, everyone. I’m Kamber Parker, and I currently serve as the Associate Director for a local non-profit in Greenville, South Carolina, where I met Dorothy back in college. I also just started The YoPro Know, a blog about how others are making it as young professionals and how you can too. In my professional role where I get to meet with people daily, and now with a blog that allows me to speak with young professionals across the country, building my network is crucial. LinkedIn is a tool that helps me do that, so that is what I am going to share with you here today. If you are anything like me, LinkedIn may become your new Snapchat or Instagram. I am probably going to get a few laughs from my friends for saying that one, but it’s true. 

Today my plan is to share with you why having LinkedIn is important, what you should do when setting up your LinkedIn or ways you can update your current profile, who you should be connecting with, and how you can use this platform to your advantage not only in your careers but in your personal lives as well. 

Let’s start with the "why." 
LinkedIn is just like any of the social platforms you use, minus all of the photos you took in eighth grade (sounds better already), but for professional networking and communication purposes. In our extremely digitalized world where we are constantly “building our brand,” whether we have found it or not, LinkedIn lets you create your professional brand. It has the potential to link you with future recruiters and industry professionals, navigate you through your industry’s changes or introduce you to new fields, and it allows you to have your voice heard if you choose to communicate publicly to your network. You’re probably wondering how you get started, which leads me to my next step. 

I want to set up my LinkedIn now. Where do I start? 
First, you’ll want to get a professional headshot. I want to clarify that this does not mean it has to be taken by a professional, but it should look professional. This means no visibly cropped-out people or blurriness. Next come your headline and summary. This is how a larger network sees you, and it is also what pops up when someone is searching for you online. Given my current role, my headline currently reads, "Associate Director at Greenville Area Parkinson Society." I have one connection, however, who lists himself as a Professional Development Coach/Management Consultant/Entrepreneur, though he has worked for Enterprise for nearly a decade as an Area Manager. In a recent interview on my blog, the same person told me he enjoys investing in people, and he finds that this is his real purpose in life. I tell you this because your title does not have to be what you actually get paid to do. It can be something else that defines you, and I think it will come to you once you have found it. 

Here is a look a Kamber's professional headshot.

I think your summary is one of the hardest parts about setting up a LinkedIn. To avoid writing a novel here, I am just going to tell you what your summary should do: 
-    Have a strong start that immediately makes you sound hirable 
-    Highlight all of your major accomplishments 
-    Make your personal brand come to life while showing some personality 
-    Include the skills that have made you successful
-    Act as a story version of your resume
When it comes to your experiences and volunteer positions, keep it brief and try to capture what your role looks or looked like (past tense is important when writing about previous roles). This needs to look unique, and your experience should include your achievements in that role on the frontend. Action verbs like managed, led, saved, organized, and others, will be your best friend here.  

Who do I connect with? 
Let’s start with people you know and who you think can help you build your brand. If you are interested in a particular field, I would suggest you connect with people that can provide you with information or connections to help you reach your goals in that industry. Every time I meet someone at a networking event, I immediately connect with them on LinkedIn and send a brief note letting them know I look forward to connecting with them again soon. If you are wondering whether you should accept requests from people you don’t know, my best answer is to use your discretion. I recently connected with someone who was a fellow Furman alumni that I didn’t know and he ended up connecting with me after I shared information about my new blog on my profile. Now, he is helping me find new ways to market my brand. You never know who you will end up working with, so building your network carefully can lead you to some unexpected and successful relationships. 
If you are still a student, connect with your classmates, peers, professors, and academic advisors and ask them for feedback. I still ask people for feedback on my profile because it is how you make it better. This last message is for everyone: you should always update your profile. Nothing is more embarrassing than looking like you still work at that job you had when you were 13. If you don’t go in and click your end date, LinkedIn thinks you still work there, so keep that in mind.

Lastly, LinkedIn can help you drive more traffic to the things you care about. Take me, for example. I wanted to share the blog I created, The YoPro Know, a platform where young professionals from across the country can share their professional and personal stories. Once I did, I had dozens of people reach out to me asking how they could be involved and help spread the word. It has also resulted in a few hundred subscribers to the blog! One tip that was shared with me is to always comment and share posts instead of just liking them on the platform. If you just like it, you are not doing any influencing. If you’re not there yet, that’s fine. But think about it.

Someone recently told me that networking is not a job. It is truly all about building relationships that you can learn from. You are not networking for a connection; you’re networking to build a relationship. It is important to remember that LinkedIn does not maintain relationships for you. Sure, it creates connections, but you need to put in the work. Follow the YoProKnow on Instagram and subscribe here.

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