[Net]working It, Part II: Using LinkedIn Effectively For Teens

LinkedIn For Teenagers


With over 175 million users, LinkedIn is certainly a resource you want to familiarize yourself with. Even for teens, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for establishing connections and maintaining professional relationships that may be of value in the future. Below are a few tips for getting started and building a strong network.

1. Give detailed responses. Your goal: achieve the “Expert Level” profile strength. When opening your LinkedIn account or going back in to your profile page to update your information, follow the detailed steps that LinkedIn suggests and complete as much of the information as possible. LinkedIn really holds your hand throughout the updating process, so don’t be intimidated. Work on your resume beforehand in a separate word document and import that information directly to your LinkedIn account. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for recruiters to find you.

2. Only establish real connections. Joining LinkedIn is not about amassing a huge following- think quality over quantity. Establish real connections with people that know you and who can endorse your skills, and also those in your circles who may be affiliated with businesses or career fields you are interested in. Once you develop a solid network of people you know, eventually you can expand to include “aspirational” connections, such as professionals you admire, or people in your alumni circuit.

3. Take a professional picture. Although you look really great standing on the dock of a cruise ship in a prom dress, it’s best to keep that kind of profile pic for Facebook. Ask a friend who is handy with a camera to take a few professional snaps of you dressed in business-casual attire, and focus on just a head shot with a relaxed, natural smile (practice in the mirror beforehand). Think: the author on the back of a novel pic. And no need for filters; make use of the natural daylight near a window for a working-hours professional vibe.

4. Include unpaid work and experience. Building your resume or adding to your LInkedIn profile doesn’t have to reflect only paid jobs. Demonstrated leadership positions and hobbies/clubs you have been actively involved with will also help demonstrate your ability to commit and grow as a person. For additional tips on building your resume and seeking out work opportunities to bolster your resume, read more here.

5. Always write an introduction message when you send a request to connect. While it is ok to send out the occasional stock message “Hi, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn…” when you know someone well, for contacts you don’t know as well (or at all) you may benefit from personalizing your message. Explain who you are and why you are interested in making the connection. A personal touch will certainly set you apart from the crowd, and you will stick out in the mind of your contact as more than just a mindless click on the “accept” button. It’s more likely that your contact will actually browse your resume if you can personalize the ‘connect’ experience off the bat.

6. Join groups and follow company pages. Following company pages demonstrates how serious you are about your college and career interests, and will also keep you updated on events and openings at the company. Be sure to join any alumni or professional groups you belong to and keep an eye out for possible contacts and announcements that may be beneficial to your interests and goals.

7. Keep it business/casual/social. LinkedIn may be a professional networking site, but it is still a form of social media, after all. Congratulate people in your newsfeed when they update a promotion or have a work anniversary, or reach out to them to ask what they enjoy about their work. If you are following a particular group or company page, participate in open conversations and message boards, and ask questions as they arise. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to catch the eye of someone who may be an important career ally down the road.

8. Update Regularly and Be Active. Pat yourself on the back after you’ve created you LinkedIn presence, but don’t rest too long! You should keep your page fresh after you’ve created your profile. Include any new volunteer work, jobs, postings, etc.

What are some of your tips for maximizing LinkedIn? Share your tips in the comments below.

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