It’s the most wonderful time of year! The Winter school term has begun!
For lots of students, back to school means plenty of early morning classes and late night study sessions. School is busy, and chaotic, and it’s hard to find time to get all your assignments done, let alone spend time online.
But the truth is, there’s a whole world of knowledge and opportunity out here, if you know where to look for it. Social media is transforming the way we connect, communicate and share…but it doesn’t just have to be that way for businesses. Students can benefit a lot from social media. Here are a few ways:
Building a professional network has never been easier.
Are you LinkedIN yet? Many students believe that they don’t need to worry about getting their profile up on LinkedIN until after they graduate. But nothing could be further from the truth. You need to get on there. Now. LinkedIN is one of the best places to connect with the kind of companies and people you want to eventually end up working for. And the only way you’ll be able to find and connect with them is to start building your profile there.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a tonne of experience to add in yet. Put the experience you do have, even if it’s not related to your field. I want to know, before I consider bringing you into a client meeting, that you have customer relations skills. I think it’s a good thing that you worked as a plumbers’ apprentice for a year…that shows a sense of commitment and ability to problem solve. And yes, add in your major school projects. Treat those like any other kind of work experience. I want to know that you delivered that client project and they were satisfied, and that you were able to work in a team. Never discount school work as “not real experience”. It totally is.
LinkedIN also has plenty of groups you can join and LinkedIN Answers is a great place to post questions and get advice from industry pros. So get in there. Start filling in your profile, and connect with people you know (even those from past jobs, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Also friends and other people you know. Even that lady you used to deliver newspapers to. Who you know is EVERYTHING).
Start a blog.
I would estimate that about 80% of my business leads and work opportunities come through this blog. No joke. Why? Because it’s my online home. People can come here and find out all about me….they see how I write, how I think, and how I interact with people. They can find out about my business and my teaching work, and if they want to contact me, it’s super easy. I leverage other tools like Twitter and Facebook to help drive traffic here. Start building your online home now. Don’t wait till graduation. You can set up a blog for free in about 5 minutes at Wordpress or Tumblr. And you don’t have to be a computer whiz. So do it. Start sharing your ideas with the world.
Building a community around a blog takes time. It won’t happen overnight. But start now. Practice. Learn, and find your voice. Employers will trust you more if they feel like they can get to know you online. If you send me your resume! the first thing I do is Google you. If I find your online home and it’s filled with great stuff, I will be about 99% more inclined to call you back than if I can’t find you at all. 99%. For realz.
Just two things. Two really, really important things to start. Start them today, and by the time you graduate, you’ll have that much more of a leg up. And don’t tell me you don’t have time. Because this is your life. Your career. You didn’t spend all this money on school to wind up jobless after. This is what it takes to get there.
[photo by wired_gr]
I started using LinkedIn as a senior in college. It has been so useful in building a network around my interests and field of work. It's a simple way to dip your toes into social media, and the connections you make can hopefully carry over to other media outlets, like Twitter or a blog, once you start utilizing them.