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  • Madison Whitney

Drivers Ed 101: A Senior's Guide to LinkedIn

How to utilize professional social media to capitalize on your next chapter as a PR professional

Senior year is scary. Post-grad is scary. So is the blue and white square platform that we have been told to use and never taught how to use — LinkedIn.

What do I put in my bio? Can I connect with friends from my high school? My professors? Who should I follow? — these are all questions I contemplated the first two years I had a bare LinkedIn profile. PR is all about people, connecting and sharing stories. So is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is an intimidating tool that is supposed to help us. It is like driving for the first time. Scared to push the gas, go down a road that leads to a dead end and ultimately need to hit the road again after some bumps. Both are tools that get us from one place to another and take commitment and practice. As your LinkedIn driving instructor, I will walk you through some basic steps and highlight the importance of getting out on the road, full gear ahead.

1. Push the gas: If you want to start your journey, you just have to go and go the distance. Make sure you have an updated headshot for your profile with a clear and descriptive headline. Use verbs to describe your action: emerging, searching, and so on. Use keywords that describe your title and are tailored to your audience (hello, recruiters!) that represents your value proposition. Check out this article from HubSpot on how to write a professional LinkedIn headline. Just as it is important to keep your experiences, skills, and certifications (check out this link for some awesome PR certifications to help you stand out), it is also important to begin engaging with your classmates and other connections to build community and foster credibility through insightful posts and shares.

2. Dead ends are inevitable: Sometimes you are a little lost and go down a road, shooting your shot or sliding into the LinkedIn DM’s. This part of LinkedIn is scary but can be so rewarding. I have messaged some of my “idols” in PR and marketing and never received a response, whereas others have turned into a two-hour

mentoring phone call. When crafting, essentially, your pickup line, make sure to get their attention. Tell them what you admire about that and what you think you could accomplish from their connection or a line of advice. When you go down a new road, you will either hit a dead end, or you may find the shortcut on your commute to a future PR professional avenue. Check out some of LinkedIn’s own resources for some stellar cold message examples.

3. Turn around and keep driving: Once you’ve landed that job interview, mentorship from one of your cold calls or even landed the job (congratulations!), don’t stop now! Follow thought leaders in the industry and brands that push boundaries, inspire and spark your curiosity. PR is constantly changing, you need to keep up and others need to keep up with you. Make sure to post job or promotion updates, any cool campaigns or projects you have assisted or aspects of your life that overlap with business you! Make sure to utilize the reactions to posts — I love that LinkedIn has added a “funny” reaction to show that although LinkedIn is professional, it is still fun! Need some accounts to follow for inspiration and to follow the learning curve? Check out, Pretty Little Marketer, Matt Wilson’s PR Daily, Liz Ryan and Sujan Patel.

You’ve had your LinkedIn permit all these years, now you’re turning it in for the real deal. Get out and make your commute on interstate LinkedIn!

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