When it comes to modern networking, LinkedIn might be one of the most powerful tools available for modern MBA students. The platform boasts 675 million monthly users and over 30 million companies are active on the site. This creates a social atmosphere that offers professionals tremendous potential to make valuable connections and even find their next job.
For MBA students, however, many questions can remain about how to make their professional profile stand out from the rest. They have heard that they can leverage their page to find an excellent position when they graduate from the MBA program and continue to advance their career. This social platform has an excellent reputation for forging great opportunities for finding new positions and connections.
Here is what we want our MBA students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to know about LinkedIn and creating an excellent profile.
Why worry about LinkedIn?
Before we dive into building an attention-grabbing profile, it is important for students to understand what makes LinkedIn such a valuable resource for them professionally.
- Profiles make it easy to build a network. Of course, meeting people in person at events and engaging with them personally can often help make a far greater impression than a connection online, but this network still offers considerable value. In particular, you can see how people are connected. When you find a job that interests you, use it to see if you already have any connections at that company. Finding people to introduce you to potential connections or employers helps you avoid the ‘cold’ contact and yields significantly better results.
- Employers use LinkedIn. They use it to research and vet applications and even to search for potential fits for a new position. A stand-out profile can make a great impression and get you noticed by decision makers.
- Stay in touch with professional connections. People from your MBA class, past colleagues, and those you meet at a conference across the country can all become LinkedIn connections, allowing you to stay up to date on their careers. You never know when you might want to reconnect in person for a potential job opportunity.
Therefore, investing the time and resources in creating a strong profile can pay off in many ways.
Creating a great first impression: How do I make my LinkedIn profile stand out as a student?
Get started building your LinkedIn profile by focusing on your first impression. When people first view your listing in search results, they will see only your headline, name, and photo. Therefore, you want to focus energy on making these three areas outstanding. These features, particularly your headline, also impact when and where you show up in search results.
Your headline should draw focus on what makes you different. Listing simply that you are an MBA candidate at your particular school will do nothing to differentiate you from everyone else graduating with you. Instead, you want to draw focus to how you stand out from others. Search LinkedIn for ideas and consider including features such as your concentration or relevant past experience. For example, you might list ‘Experienced Marketing Analyst | MBA Candidate at UTC 2020.’
When it comes to your photo, make sure that your selection is professional, simply cropping your face out of a group shot or using a picture from your recent vacation will not attract job offers. If you do not have a professional photo yet, invest the time and energy to get one done. A professional photo will be called for throughout your career.
Finally, customize your URL. you will want to put your LinkedIn profile in many places, including on your business cards. A URL that includes randomly generated letters and numbers will not look appealing or make it easy for potential connections to find you. Fortunately, LinkedIn makes it easy to generate a customized URL and you can use your name or a variation thereof to give a more memorable impression.
Letting people know what you have to offer: What should a student put on LinkedIn pages?
Now that you have created a strong first impression and encouraged people to click on your profile, you want to use the rest of the page to let people know what makes you an outstanding candidate for the job.
With your summary, work to make it personable yet professional. Think about how you would describe yourself when meeting in person at a networking event, and even write the summary in the first person, as though you were speaking to the person reading it. Include in this summary what makes you unique and what you want to accomplish moving forward.
Take the time to fill out all of the areas of your profile. This includes your education and any relevant jobs you have held or certifications you have earned. Anything that helps you stand out compared to other people who have earned similar degrees can help you secure the offers you want to see.
As you move into your Experience section, make sure to note what you have accomplished in your various roles. Remember the skills that you learn in your MBA class and the roles that people often value MBA professionals for – including communication and leadership positions. Any opportunities to emphasize these skills in the past positions you have held can help exemplify what makes you an excellent candidate.
Within the skills section, accentuate the areas that relate to the types of jobs you want to hold, think about the impression you want to make as an MBA candidate and avoid listing skills that everyone else has as well. For example, everyone knows how to use Microsoft Word, so this generally does not add much value to your profile. If you have special coding skills or experience in the consulting field, however, these can help you find professional matches and new job opportunities.
Putting your profile to use
Once you have built up an excellent LinkedIn profile, put it to use. Even as a candidate, you can begin to build your network and nurture connections who can help you in the industry. Reach out to connections, beginning with those you have met at past jobs, including internships. Connect with your classmates from your MBA program and your undergraduate experience as well.
Put that easy-to-remember, unique URL that you created earlier on your business cards and freely exchange them when you get the chance to interact with other professionals. Be proactive about connecting with anyone you meet professionally or know personally on LinkedIn. When you send an invitation to connect, give them a brief reminder about where you met to nurture the relationship and perhaps rekindle the conversation.
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for MBA students to find new opportunities and build a strong network of other professionals within the field. Understanding how to create an outstanding profile can help students make an excellent impression and get the most use out of the popular, professional social platform.
If you are interested in building your career with an MBA, consider reaching out to us at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Our outstanding program can help you accelerate your business acumen and prepare you for an exciting career. Get started now.