LinkedIn for Students – It’s Never Too Early to Start

We are asked to speak about social media, specifically LinkedIn, at least two or three times every month.  Some of our speaking is fee based and some we do for no cost as a way to give back.  I specifically have a heart for helping students.  I have spoken at Rockhurst University, the Bloch School of Business and just last week Avila University.  After doing the presentation at Avila, I realized that we had not written an article about the power of LinkedIn for students getting ready to graduate!

If you think about it, your professional career has been influenced by two major factors.  Your skill set and who you know.  Pretty simple concepts, but powerful in its simplicity.  You learn something new every day, increasing your skills, and my hope is that you have a solid work ethic that allows you to apply those skills to the task at hand.  As you are learning, you meet new people almost every day as well.  Your boss.  A new client.  A new vendor. A new neighbor.  A new instructor.  The list goes on and on.  Think about how many people you interact with on a weekly basis.

I usually speak to classes of Juniors or Seniors in college who are gearing up to find their first job.  My message to these students is that LinkedIn is a powerful way to have an edge over other people fresh out of college looking for the same job.  Do you remember spending a lot of time and energy on your resume, and buying the thickest stock paper to print your resume on?  I believe that the smart HR and recruiting people are quickly looking to LinkedIn for more information on potential candidates.  How much more professional would a resume look if it had a link to a great looking LinkedIn profile?

Granted, someone coming out of college is probably not well connected to the business community in their area yet.  That said, they have a bunch of professors that they learned from… many of the instructors I have met are well connected in the community, usually in the niche of the topic they are speaking about.  These include strong fields like information technology or marketing.  So students can link in with their professors as a start.

My encouragement to students is to change their mindset immediately and start treating each new relationship as a potential long term relationship.  Think of knowing someone for 25 years professionally and all the opportunities that can spin out of that relationship.  Definitely take the time to get a feel for each person, whether or not you like them and see them being a good influence on you personally and professionally.  If they pass that test, Link In with them!  You never know how that relationship will help down the road.  The relationship is a two-way street, potentially benefiting either side.

As we continue to train organizations to use LinkedIn to grow their business, influence their peers and communicate more effectively, I realized that the challenges facing a student graduating from college and trying to find a new job are very similar to the challenges facing a salesperson at a company that is trying to find new clients to work with.  It takes a strong skill set or product and a vast web of relationships that can help you get the word out.  LinkedIn will help you in your efforts to create that trusted web of relationships that will be with you for many years to come.  There is no better time than right now to adopt the habit of connecting to people that you know, trust and respect through LinkedIn.

Marian Hope Center for Children – Blue Gurus Gives Back

Every quarter, Blue Gurus selects a Kansas City based not-for-profit to help with web, social and content marketing.  We believe that giving back to the community where we live and work is a critical component to a healthy, growing company.  But enough about us… this article is about the not-for-profit that we learned could use our help!

The Marian Hope Center for Children is a 501c3 organization with a driving mission: to give hope to every child through innovative programming, educational support to parents/caregivers, and outreach services to the community.  We heard from our good friend and client Doug Hubler, President of Apex Business Advisors, that the Marian Hope Center could use help with their web site and social media marketing efforts.  Mic and I went out in February and met with Angie Knight, Heather Ruoff, and Theresa Sonderman to see how we could help.

It always hurts my heart to see good people struggling with technology.  We see this across the board with our clients, not just not-for-profits.  The Marian Hope Center is driven by an amazing and talented group of people that are donating a TON OF THEIR TIME to really make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities.  Check out the staff picture to the right to see what I am talking about.  They are licensed professionals with sparkly eyes because they know that the work they are doing MATTERS.  We had a great time getting to know their team.  While we were at their center in Independence, we got to see first hand the classrooms, materials, playground and even meet some of the families and children that were attending classes.  It was one of those moments for me personally when I realized something special was happening in that place.

After seeing the work they do, we wanted to help them be as efficient as possible with their web site, social and content marketing strategies.  We talked about so many things in the afternoon that we were there… a switch from Joomla to WordPress for their web site to make it easier to maintain the site content, LinkedIn best practices and why to focus more time on that social network (business owners are key donors), HootSuite for updating their status across multiple social media sites, RoboForm for password management, and much more.  It was a productive session!  Since then, we have had great follow up discussions with their team and continue to help them become more efficient.

I don’t know if you have a not-for-profit that you have adopted to support in 2012, but if not, the Marian Hope Center would be a good organization to look at.  If you have children with disabilities, or know of any families with children that have disabilities, be sure to check out their web site for more information on programs and services that they offer including Integrative Therapy Groups, Parent and Caregiver Education, Peer Modeling and Nutrition.

APRIL 27-28, 2012

Be sure to check out more information on the Marian Hope Center annual fundraiser called Spring Into Hope!  It is a two day exclusive shopping event. 
“Come eat, drink and mingle as you shop amongst the greatest boutiques and vendors KC has to offer. We will feature fashion shows, great raffles, yummy food and drink samples from area restaurants and much more.”
Click here for more information