LinkedIn has become the premier networking social platform across the globe. Unlike it’s more casual social counterparts in Twitter and Facebook, this platform is solely dedicated to connecting like-minded professionals and allowing them to share personal and business updates with the world. Just like you may follow someone on Instagram after meeting at a party, it is best practice to connect with someone on LinkedIn after meeting them at work-related functions.
The myth that surrounds LinkedIn is that it is strictly for working-class adults. Most students believe that you do not need one until you graduate college and begin looking for a job. This is not necessarily the case. If used correctly, a high school student can leverage their LinkedIn profile to increase their college admissions prospects, build their network, and meet the right people before going off to college. Here are a few basic guidelines for creating that college-ready LinkedIn profile.
It All Starts With The Picture
I will assume you are capable enough of logging onto LinkedIn and follow the steps laid out to get started. The first step in this process is selecting the right profile picture. This picture is the first impression you make on new contacts you connect with. This picture must be as professional-looking as possible. Do not use a picture of you making a silly face, out at a sporting event, or with someone else. It should be a headshot of just you.
When taking the picture, try to find someone in your network who own a professional camera. The quality will be much better than taking a selfie on your iPhone. In the event that you cannot find anyone with a professional camera, try to find someone with an iPhone X or higher. Next, be sure that your picturing is being taken against a blank background to avoid distractions. Lastly, wear the type of shirt you would wear to an interview and make sure your hair is done. For men, this is the time to shave your beard or at very least trim it down.
The Headline of Your Story
Your LinkedIn profile is a chance to tell your story of who you are, what you have done, and, most importantly, what you are looking accomplish. As a high school student, your primary purpose is to impress college admissions counselors and connect with college employees, alumni, and future students. Keep this in mind as you begin to fill out the rest of your page.
Underneath your picture and name is a section for a headline. This is an opportunity to catch the attention of anyone visiting your page. Spend some time thinking about college and what you plan on studying. Let’s say you are currently a junior, still applying to colleges, and interested in education. Your headline would read something like this: “Motivated High School Junior With A Strong Interest in Studying Education In College.” This headline tells your new contact who you are and what you are looking for.
What Are You All About?
As you scroll down the page, you will run into the “About” section. This is not a section to leave blank or mindlessly enter in a few random facts about yourself. Think about your audience and the message you are trying to send. This section should tell the story of a motivated high school student who is actively building its network to create long term success. After reading, you’re about section, people who have never met you should know that you are a motivated individual who cares deeply about their future career.
Personally, I have no problems talking about myself. However, I am a speaker and author, so it comes naturally. For many, speaking about themselves is incredibly difficult. You may find it even more challenging to write about your positive attributes and future plans. If this is the case, simply go back to the questions I asked earlier about what you are looking to accomplish on LinkedIn. Who are you looking to connect with? What topics are you interested in studying? Where are you currently going to high school? What extracurriculars are you currently participating in? Those answers should give enough information for a brief 3-4 sentence About paragraph.
You Have More Experience Then You Think
As a high school student, you may not think you have anything to put into the experience section. Typically, this section is meant to list out the jobs you have had, the companies you have worked for, and the responsibilities you were entrusted with. Over time, this is where you will include your internships and on-campus jobs. For now, it’s a section that can highlight the jobs you had in high school.
Any job you had in high school is worth listing. It shows that you can be trusted with responsibilities. When adding a job, think about the tasks you completed and anything that shows you being mature, trustworthy, loyal, reliable, and creative. This may include handling cash, creating the schedule for other employees, keeping count of inventory, or tracking shipping. Also, be sure to add any school clubs you were a part of or volunteer work you have done or continue to do.
What Are Your Interests?
The last important section that a high school student can focus on is Interests. This is a section to show others what types of companies, products, and people you are interested in. First, choose two companies that are well known in the field or industry you are considering. Then, choose two profiles of thought leaders such as Tony Robbins, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos. Lastly, choose a few companies whose products you enjoy. This is a straightforward section that simply meant to give new contacts even more information about who you are.
LinkedIn is a no brainer for anyone who is serious about the next steps in their life. As you progress, you will be able to add things like internships, awards won, and degrees earned. For now, focus on telling the story of a high achieving and ambitious high school student. The people you connect with will be impressed that you are taking control of your future at such a young age. Remember, you never know who you will meet or where your new relationship will lead you.
Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.