Yes, You Need a LinkedIn Account!

LinkedInWith so many social networks to traverse today, why is it important for college students to be on yet another site? There are many benefits to being active on LinkedIn, but the most basic reason – to get a job and move out of your parent’s house! You do want to move out of your parent’s house, right?

Ok, let’s get started then.

Just as with the other social channels you have subscribed to, you will be required to fill out your personal profile. However, on this network, you want to be as honest, thorough and as complete as possible. Give as much information about your education, work experience, certifications, awards, etc. as you can muster up. A recently updated resume can be of great assistance during this process.

Here is a good resource to get started on LinkedIn: Tips to Help You Maximize Your Professional Profile

Speaking of an updated resume, you have one, right? Good, because you’ll want to upload that into LinkedIn for companies searching for prospective interns and employees. This will also be very helpful while you apply for all those job openings you discover!

Now that you have your profile and resume completed, it’s time to connect with the many professionals you already know. There are a couple of methods to go about finding these people. The easiest way is to allow LinkedIn to search your email contacts. Another way is to search for specific people manually. This may be necessary if you do not have everyone’s email stored in your contacts. You may also use a combination of both methods to connect with professionals presently in your life.

Student You may be asking yourself, “Where can I find professionals to connect with when I haven’t emerged into the workforce yet?” Don’t worry, here are few ideas to begin your search:

  • Classmates
  • Parents of your friends
  • Friends of your parents (that you also know)
  • Coaches, past and present
  • Teachers and Professors
  • Supervisors from Non-Profits where you have volunteered
  • Members of organizations in which you are involved, i.e. Churches, clubs, etc.
  • Past employers from high school jobs, summer jobs or part-time college positions

Now that you’ve started to build your network, you’re probably wondering, “What benefits does LinkedIn have to offer me?”

Here’s a list of some ways college students can use LinkedIn to market themselves for internships, employment, partnerships or lead opportunities:

  • Follow companies that you are interested in to keep up-to-date with the latest news, and more importantly – position openings
  • Follow specific leaders in your industry to listen and learn from them
  • Be found by companies searching for people with your education, experience and knowledge
  • If you plan on becoming an entrepreneur, LinkedIn is in a very valuable lead generation tool
  • Get referrals from connections you have worked with or volunteered with
  • Post updates to your page of interesting articles, presentations, infographics, etc. to be seen by your network daily
  • Comment on others’ posts to create conversations
  • Join industry related groups to stay informed on the latest trends
  • If you write a blog, include a link to it in your profile to showcase your knowledge
  • Continue to grow your professional network with the world outside of your present circles – you never know what the future holds for you!

These are just a few good reasons why college students should join LinkedIn sooner rather than later. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for using LinkedIn, please add them by commenting below.

Therese MatthysTherese Matthys  @ThereseMatthys

Therese has more than 10 years of experience in marketing. She co-founded two non-profit organizations, implementing many diverse marketing approaches. She is also a HootSuite Certified Professional providing social media marketing strategies and coaching for businesses and individuals to navigate through this digital world we are living in.

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A Hoot-Tastic Opportunity

HootCampusThis week’s FAQ post is being put on hold in order to highlight an amazing initiative from HootSuite. For those of you who may not be familiar, HootSuite is a powerful social media tool, and as a company has many other programs and departments that aim to help students and professionals develop their social media knowledge and skills. One such program is their HootSuite Campus Ambassador Program, which works with university students around the world to gain experience in various roles. I am excited to announce that I have been asked to join the program as the first HootSuite Campus Ambassador Program Mentor!

What exactly is the HootSuite Campus Ambassador Program?

“The HootSuite Campus Ambassador program helps students connect with each other, lead the social media space at their school and community and represent HootSuite on campus, while gaining valuable career experience.” Students can apply online to become an Ambassador for their school, and then will be assigned one of four Ambassador roles:

  1. HootUp Star – Responsible for hosting HootUps, which are ultimately HootSuite inspired TweetUps, on and around campus, and reporting/sharing the results.
  2. Content Writer – Works to compose blog posts to be featured on HootSuite’s blog HootSource, helps curate content for HootCampus’ social media channels, and interviews others about their HootSuite experiences.
  3. The Moderator – Helps come up with topics for Hangouts and Twitter chats, and collaborates with Liaisons to bring in special guests.
  4. Trusty Liaison – Network and talk to students, professors/instructors, professionals and invite them to HootUps, Hangouts, and chats.

Each Ambassador is encouraged to be creative and bring their own flair to their role. Ambassadors are also given 3 months access to HootSuite University in which they can earn their HootSuite Professional Certification.

What will I do as a mentor for HootCampus?

As a mentor to the HootSuite Campus Ambassadors, I will provide help and advice for the Ambassadors in their respective roles, participate in Hangouts, chats, and HootUps, and work to spread the word about the program and recruit new Campus Ambassadors. Here are some of the ideas I have as a mentor:

  • Utilize Google Hangouts and Twitter Chats to connect with the Campus Ambassadors and answer questions
  • Brainstorm ideas to help the Ambassadors expand and develop their roles and projects
  • Introduce Campus Ambassadors to other social media professionals for chats or mock interviews

How can you get involved?

If you’re a student, consider applying to be a HootSuite Campus Ambassador! This is a perfect way to edge your way into the world of social media, network, and add valuable experience to your resume. And anyone can participate in #HSUChats and network with others on Twitter, as well as get their HootSuite Certification through HootSuite University. Overall, it’s a hoot-tastic opportunity and I’m honored to be a part of it!

Questions or comments? Post them below!

Have Your Cake & Eat it Too: A Career in Social Media

A big part of learning is looking to others as an example. Today I have a post from Tiffany Harrison, the Outreach Manager at GoAbroad.com, to comment on the importance of social media, and what its like to work in social media:

As a student these days, understanding social media is essential. To say that it’s not is like saying a passport is just a suggestion for international travel. A bit of an understatement, right? Whether you use social media strictly for personal use or are hoping to make it a part of your career, how you brand yourself online will make all the difference in your endeavors.

Tiffany at NAFSAI understand how it feels to navigate the waters of an online presence: how much should you put out there, how much is TOO much, and what is going to set you apart from the crowd? By offering some insight into my own experiences with social media, it’s my hope that you’ll be able to gain some perspective.

I don’t claim to know everything; to say that is to ignore the fact that social media is an evolving technology. Rather, I understand what it takes to stand out on social media while being true to who you are, and cognizant of how the technology changes. After all, it’s what led me to my current role with GoAbroad.com. Instead of referring to the following advice as “best practices,” I think a better phrase is “model practices.” This should help you to keep in mind that every person’s journey is different from the next, and your own technique will adapt and change with your pursuits. Let’s dig in, shall we?

How Did You Get a Job in Social Media?

I came to my position as Outreach Manager for GoAbroad.com after meeting and getting to know my future supervisor via Twitter. At that point in time, I was trying to break into the international education industry – which can be extremely competitive, particularly if you’re like me and don’t have a Master’s Degree or five plus years of experience.

That’s where getting creative with how to stand out took hold: I started a blog that encompassed the things I was most passionate about, joined Twitter, and began getting to know new people. A word to the wise: if you aren’t already on Twitter, I highly recommend it. It’s a great place to meet people (possibly future employers!), as well as get your voice heard on a platform where you’re liable to connect with anyone.

Initially, I wasn’t even considering how it might become my next job when I met my supervisor. I’d found her because I enjoyed reading her blog and wanted to express my appreciation of it. Before I knew it, we were tweeting back and forth, she interviewed me for her blog, and a few months down the road I was being offered the job of a lifetime. Stranger things have happened, right?

The important thing to take away from this, is that YES, being yourself in an online forum can be extremely rewarding. Whether it leads to a job, a writing opportunity, or even a new friendship, maintaining transparency in how you present yourself can take you far. Added to that, getting creative with your use of social media will also open new doors. Examine how people are already doing things, and find a new angle. What speaks to you, and how can you add your voice to the conversation? Speak up and I assure you that people will start to listen.

What Do You Do Everyday?

As the Outreach Manager for GoAbroad.com, one of my major responsibilities is managing our online communities of over 50,000 world travelers. I also oversee the GoAbroad Blog, managing all of the content that we write and share. When I’m not scheduling Facebook posts or responding to Tweets, I’m sending out press releases, working with GoAbroad partners, or prepping for an upcoming university visit. It’s definitely a job that keeps me on my toes!

Tiffany HarrisonThe wide-reaching scope of GoAbroad’s communities used to scare me when I first started with social media brand management. The learning curve was steep, the digital landscape was (and is) apt to change at the drop of a hat, and I was anxious about saying or doing the wrong thing for our audience.

I still have these moments on occasion, but you learn as you go. It also helps to have supportive colleagues who act like guiding lights throughout the learning process. If you’re eager to work in social media management, you have to be ready to take risks. Not every campaign will be successful, and you’ll have audience members who don’t always agree with you. It can be unnerving, but it’s also what makes working with social media so dynamic.

How Important is Maintaining an Online Persona?

It’s essential. And not just “I have a Facebook account, so I understand social media” kind of essential. It takes more energy and work than that. The way that I see it is if you want someone to find you (employers, college recruiters, fellow bloggers, etc.) give them something to find in the first place.

One of my first journalism teachers in college once told me it’s better to have some kind of “digital footprint,” as opposed to none at all. As I’ve grown and delved more into social media, I continue to adhere to this. People are going to search for you online either way. Better to give them something worthwhile to find, and you’ll already be one step ahead of the competition.

It doesn’t have to be complicated either: Find time to update your LinkedIn profile, use a tool like HootSuite to manage your tweets, start your own blog, or guest author for sites you already enjoy reading. The opportunities are endless.

What Advice Do You Have for Others That Want to Work in Social Media?

Read and keep reading. As I mentioned earlier, social media is constantly evolving and it’s important to stay up to date with trends. It’s the only way you’re going to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening and what opportunities are upcoming.

Combined with this, I suggest taking advantage of internships that allow you to get firsthand experience with social media. One of my internships out of college had me collecting press clips, building editorial lists, and mining for online content that would suit our clients. Sure, it wasn’t my dream job but it taught me how to get creative with my approach to writing for an online audience and understanding what resonates. I also got to work with people who had a broad knowledge base, making for a great learning experience. From there, you can only keep growing.

It’s safe to say that social media isn’t going anywhere, and nor should it! There are more and more opportunities to get involved with it on a professional level and you owe it to yourself to grab hold of them with both hands. You just might surprise yourself at how good it tastes to have your cake and eat it too.

Tiffany HarrisonTiffany Harrison @ttmharrison

Hailing from the Northern California Foothills, Tiffany Harrison holds a BA in Journalism Public Relations from California State University Chico. She first ignited her passion for meaningful travel by living abroad in Scotland, before then working in public relations in San Francisco. Tiffany now cultivates her skills with GoAbroad.com as the Outreach Manager. She is an avid tea-drinker who lives by the words of Jane Austen and considers her passport a map to discovering the world. Connect with Tiffany on her blog, What Would Jane Do?

Becoming a Certified HootSuite Professional

Certified HootSuite ProfessionalIf you haven’t heard of HootSuite, it is a brilliant social media dashboard that makes managing social media accounts a breeze.   As a HootSuite Pro account holder, I am able to add unlimited social media accounts and streams to one dashboard for easy and controlled management. For Community Management, HootSuite is a life saver.

Having used HootSuite for quite some time now I decided it would only be fitting to become a Certified HootSuite Professional.  In order to do so, one must enroll themselves in HootSuite University – a series of online tutorials and webinars that walk you through the many uses of the HootSuite Dashboard.  After completing the required courses for certification, you are awarded a certification and badge.

I am proud to have completed my certification today – so of course I am showing off my new badge!

The Future of Social Media

There is a series of articles hosted by Gist, titled Future Of Social Media Series that explores the roles social media is expected to play in various fields of business.  I was particulary interested in the article How Job Seekers May Use Social Media in the Future.  Not only are students like me learning how to market themselves for jobs using social media, but companies are beginning to use social media for recruiting.  LinkedIn is a great example of this; however, I was surprised to read that some companies have their employees post on their Twitter and Facebook accounts that the company is hiring, in hopes of recruiting potential hires that are friends of friends.

Note to self: Never underestimate social media as a job seeking tool!