Connecting in the Real World: 3 Tips for LinkedIn

oberdorf_linkedinEver hear of the term ‘networking’? It’s one of those “adult” words most of us choose to ignore along with “mortgage” and “student loan” for the current time being. However, the sad truth is that we are growing up, and unfortunately we’re not just here at Penn State to walk around in heels at 3 a.m. in the snow and spend way too much money on Lion Menus. We’re here to build a future, and that involves networking our way into potential jobs after we leave the extreme safety net that is Happy Valley. That could all start by just connecting with someone.

LinkedIn, a website that has been around since 2003 but is gaining more recognition daily, is the perfect place to begin to build an image for yourself other than your awesome new selfie radiating from your Facebook profile or your tweet that got more than 30 favorites. However, getting started on such a legitimate and professional website can be a bit confusing and problematic, and that is why we here at Valley have some tips for getting started. Here’s to happy networking! 

1. Getting Started: Get a Headshot

This isn’t Facebook. This is professional, and you need a headshot, or a decent photo, for your new Linkedin profile. After you briefly register on, the first thing they’ll tell you to do is upload a photo. This is a crucial decision. The several photos we all admittedly saved of ourselves from our webcams trying to look candid or the blurry picture you have of yourself from that highlighter party two week ago simply won’t do for this. Take a decent picture of yourself, dressed clad with your hair done and a smile that says “I want to work for your company.” Image is more important in job searching now than ever.

2. Full Disclosure 

Starting your Linkedin profile can pretty tricky, as it is different from just about every other website regarding how you build your profile. While there are helpful tips and directions to get you started, there is more written in between the lines. For example, when you’re adding in your work or experience, do not be afraid to add all of your clubs. Include your position as a THON captain and the responsibilities that you had each week, or the internship you had online your freshman year that taught you how to meet deadlines and navigate a webpage. Seriously, every little thing helps, and you can add your own description for anything. In order to get noticed, having just “Penn State University Student” as your occupation will not make the cut. Your peers are all adding their long list of clubs and activities, and you should be, too.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Connect

On other social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, getting a request from a stranger can be a little intimidating and frightening. However, on Linkedin, it is your objective to connect with as many random people as possible. People are searching. Companies are lurking. With a name like Penn State, you won’t be too hard to find, and random employer wanting to “connect” with you (more of less, add you as a friend), should be taken as a good sign. Accept their request. Start a conversation. You may come across an opportunity you never dreamed off existing.

Photo by Victoria Oberdorf


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