By: James Walker
The professional networking platform LinkedIn dropped its minimum age requirement in the U.S. last year from 18 years to 14 years, opening doors to high school students. A new product termed as ‘University Pages’ was also introduced – it can be used by high school students to engage with alumni and administration at the university.
A report says that 46% of students haven’t used LinkedIn, and when searching for employment, only 26% of have been found to use LinkedIn. The stats are on the lower end because students haven’t been thinking about networking before graduation or feel they don’t have many contacts to add to their information as majority are without practical work experience.
Boston University Center of Career Development associate marketing and communications director Eleanor Cartelli believes students should make better use of the professional networking platforms as it is a gateway to exciting opportunities.
LinkedIn is home to untapped avenues. Introducing LinkedIn in class can make students more approachable, and cultivate an atmosphere that engages them side by side along with professional development.
Classroom learners can further expect the following benefits of using the platform:
Develop a Professional Identity. LinkedIn offers students a convenient way to create a professional online identity. It also gives them access to several networking and job opportunities, and most of the applications directly go to hiring managers and company owners. And in this tech-savvy day and age, it can be safe to assume graduates virtually out of the game before entering the job market when a LinkedIn profile is non-existent.
Students can also leverage the ‘who’s viewed your profile’ feature to see actionable insights on individual visiting their profile(s); this presents them with more options to expand their visibility and manage their professional identity across the platform.
Display and Learn Thought Leadership. Students can take advantage of LinkedIn’s ‘thought leaders’ feature and follow influential thinkers from around the globe. Everyone from Richard Branson to Guy Kawasaki has flocked to this platform in recent times to share their insights with more than 200 million users. Students can read the text and multimedia content published by these heavy-hitters and spark conversations directly by referring and commenting on posts.
This feature can also fulfill the need for leadership development among students; students can beef up their profile, adopt a participative or democratic leadership approach to encourage user participation and submit an entry for being a LinkedIn thought leader on the applicants’ page. It takes about a week to receive a reply, and even if it’s not positive, teachers should encourage potential students to be novel – they should be encouraged to continue building their personal brand and spreading insights to edge closer to acceptance.
Authentic Discussions and Group Participation. Students can engage in insightful discussions and topics with teachers, current students, prospective students and alumni from all over the globe. LinkedIn Group feature helps to filter the process by identifying information on the profile for group suggestions. For example, UCLA students will be shown groups related to UCLA alumni network, current students and the whole nine years.
Group membership may or may not have to be approved depending on the rules and regulations; the member of a particular group will have access to current trends, experts and thought leaders. Group connections can be a real career booster during employment search.
Are your students on LinkedIn? Feel free to leave comments.
James Walker is an avid designer and coder since he was 12, James writes and curates topics on both basic web development and advanced languages with a particular focus on mobile. Read his thought on tech on Twitter and his favorite articles on Google+