Most graduate students have created LinkedIn profile but, for many, that's as far as they've gotten. In this competitive economy, merely having an account isn't enough. It's time to learn the value of professional networking, and that begins with your online presence. Here are a few "best practices" to get you started:

Maximize your Profile. Even if you already have a profile, make sure it's complete and that you've tailored it to your goals. Use this Profile Checklist to make sure you've included all of the basic elements. The information on your profile should frame your experience in terms of your career objectives—this tip sheet offers a few pointers.

Establish a Network. "10 times your age" is the standard formula for determining the minimum size of your professional network on LinkedIn. It takes time to build your network, so start this process sooner rather than later!

Join Relevant Groups. LinkedIn groups are a valuable resource for networking activities. Participating in discussions with industry and discipline-specific experts helps establish your professional relevance. Not sure which groups to join? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Join the alumni group for your current institution and your alma mater (here is Notre Dame's)
  • If you're part of any professional associations, they may have a LinkedIn group you can join
  • Look through these LinkedIn Groups for Academics and find a few that match your interests

Joining groups also allows you to communicate directly with other members. This is a big perk, since you otherwise cannot send InMail to someone you're not connected to. 

Connect with Alumni. Use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to search for connections in particular fields, positions, and geographical locations. If you're interested in exploring a few different industries, searching for alumni can be an excellent way to identify contacts for informational interviews. This tip sheet provides a brief overview of the tool.

Explore Jobs. Use the Job Search tool to harness the power of your network. LinkedIn can give you an edge in your job search and allow you to identify people you know at a company.

Compare Salaries. The new LinkedIn Salary tool allows you to explore salary range by position, industry, and geographic location. This resource comes in handy when exploring potential careers or when negotiating your salary.

Not sure if you’re using LinkedIn to its full potential? Our Graduate Career Consultants have a number of next-level ideas on how to leverage LinkedIn as part of your overall career strategy. Come see us. Schedule an appointment with your assigned consultant for a 1:1 session. We can help!

Recommended Reading

How to Write a Damn Good LinkedIn Profile, Elizabeth Magill, Big Interview Blog

How to Add a LinkedIn Button to Your Gmail Signature, Siofra Pratt

LinkedIn for Graduate Students: How to Market Yourself on the Net, Chen Guttman

Digital Resources

10 Templates for LinkedIn Connection Requests, USA Today College

Official LinkedIn Blog, LinkedIN

LinkedIn for Students—official LinkedIn site for students, with videos, articles, checklists and more

Graduate Career Services has a Pinterest Page where we have curated a collection of online resources that may be of interest to graduate students. Check out our LinkedIn board for more tips and advice!