Millie's Guide to LinkedIn for International Students
“You know the feeling when you DM your favorite influencer and they “like” or respond to your message? This can happen on LinkedIn too.”
Do you know how to create a LinkedIn profile that stands out? If you are interested in setting yourself up for career success while still in high school, get started with our top tips on how to get the most out of this powerful professional networking tool early on.
Tip 1: Start early.
If you think LinkedIn is only for older people, think again! According to the latest LinkedIn statistics, 51% of US college graduates are on LinkedIn, and there are 46 million students globally. A great way to get started is to include a professional photo, list your school, skills (e.g., public speaking, programming languages), and volunteer work. Start early to familiarize yourself with the platform and begin building your network, not last minute when you're graduating and need a job.
“There are 46 million students on LinkedIn globally”
Tip 2: Be a power user by following and engaging with your top 20 favorite influencers and companies.
Did you know that LinkedIn incentivizes its more active users by showing them a greater number of potential connections and networking opportunities? For instance, let's say two people search for "Spotify Data Scientist." The active user will see more search results with names and full information, whereas the less active user will see many anonymous results (headlines showing as "LinkedIn member" as opposed to the person’s name).
In order to maximize the benefits of LinkedIn, you need to increase your daily activity. In addition to connecting with all your contacts (your parents, school teachers, friends, relatives, you name it!), it's also important to follow your favorite business influencers (e.g., Bill Gates, Barack Obama) and businesses (e.g., Spotify, Tesla) and engage with them via comments, likes, and shares. This will not only increase your industry knowledge but will also boost your LinkedIn user score.
Mark Cuban sharing news about companies from Shark Tank.
“Don’t waste space discussing things that are listed further down on your profile.”
Tip 3: Add a summary of who you are in the ‘About’ section.
There are 700 million users and 50 million companies from over 200 countries, with 20 million open jobs listed. Needless to say, LinkedIn is an incredible place to network, but it also means that you need to make your profile stand out. Don't waste space discussing things that are listed further down on your profile; be clear and succinct about who you are, what you are interested in, and what you want the world to know about you. The 'About' section is also a good place to state what you're looking for, such as volunteering or internship opportunities in a specific field.
Oscar, one of Millie’s former interns’ about section
Tip 4: Provide a descriptive, clear explanation of what your school, awards, and organizations represent.
As an international student, your activities will likely be from overseas. As a result, it might not be easy for a future employer, mentor, or connection to understand, so it's always extremely helpful to provide a short description of what the activity entails.
“The biggest stationary hackathon in Europe” helps the reader to understand the scale of the competition and therefore your skillset.
Tip 5: Reach out to 20 people, and ask a specific question that takes them less than 5 minutes to answer.
You know the feeling when you DM your favorite influencers on Instagram and they “like” or respond to your message?
This can happen on LinkedIn too. This is the hardest but also the most rewarding part because you need to be comfortable and confident in reaching out. Now that you are part of this amazing professional network, we recommend you find 20 people you'd like to get to know (but don't already know) and ask them to connect and have a Zoom call! You might be surprised how many will actually say yes if you apply the following technique:
- Asking too broad a question, such as "How do I get into data science?", will often be ignored—not because they want to ignore it, but because they don't know where to start answering it!
- Craft a friendly, tailored message when asking to connect. If you want to build digital relationships with your role models, make your questions specific. Ask a question that you estimate will take less than 5 minutes for them to answer.
- If you get on that 30-minute call, great. Make sure you have 5-10 specific questions prepared.
“Have a question ready that takes 5 minutes to answer.”