Ten tips for undergraduates on how to create a cracking LinkedIn profile. By Richenda Oldham

Ten tips for undergraduates on how to create a cracking LinkedIn profile
Think of your LinkedIn profile as an online CV

My eldest daughter, who is 19 years old and a second year undergraduate, recently applied for a student mentoring programme, which required that she have a profile on LinkedIn AND be able to demonstrate active use of this networking tool.

Needless to say she was fairly daunted by the prospect of creating a public profile on LinkedIn, so in response to her plea of: “Help, what do I say and where do I begin?”, I found myself creating a basic undergraduate’s crash course on how to create a good LinkedIn profile.

Then it occurred to me that there are probably plenty of other undergrads out there, who also don’t know how to get started on LinkedIn, so here are the tips I put together. It’s not an inexhaustible list, by any means, but it has helped my daughter to make a good start and now she is well on her way to joining groups and connecting with fellow students and potential employers.

So I hope it encourages a few young people to have a go too. It’s definitely worth getting started now while you are still at university, as it will alert future employers of your existence and could open doors to finding work experience. A profile on LinkedIn will ensure your name will come up when someone searches for you on LinkedIn. In fact, think of your LinkedIn profile as an online CV.

1. What kind of photograph should I use for my LinkedIn profile?

First of all, you’ve got to remember that LinkedIn is essentially a networking site for business professionals. So it makes sense to have a professional image of yourself. Preferably smartly dressed and taken recently. Avoid blurry pictures taken at parties or on holiday in beachwear. It does not give the right impression! Do not leave the image section blank, it will put potential contacts off:  “Professionals with a photo on their profile are seven times more likely to be viewed”.

2. How much detail do I put in my profile?

A detailed profile gives you a much stronger presence on LinkedIn. It is similar to a CV, so do include your current work position (even if you are working part time in a supermarket), work experience and past education, as well as interests, qualifications and skills/expertise. Have your CV to hand as you complete the profile and follow LinkedIn’s prompts and completion tips, which are very useful. When completing your work experience, rather than just listing what you did at a company, put down the benefits you brought to that business and the skills you used – even if you were only there for a few weeks.

3. How do I describe myself in the sub-headline?

The sub-headline appears beneath your name and is a very important part of your profile. Do use keywords relating to  the degree that you are studying, i.e. Undergraduate: BA (Hons) Architecture. Look up the profiles of your contemporaries at University or alumni who you particularly admire.

4. What do I put in the summary?

DO NOT overlook the summary – it’s your chance to shine in 2,000 characters. Write it in the first person and don’t be afraid to include personal goals, which could be as simple as saying you are looking for an internship over the summer. Your summary should be a blend of personal and professional, highlighting your skills and strengths and summarising your experience, achievements and the benefits they bring. Use sub-headings and bullet points to break up the text. Don’t forget to include key words to help you get found.

5. Proof read your whole profile

Just as you should never send out your CV without checking it thoroughly, the same goes for your LinkedIn profile. Check it and then check it again. Typos and bad grammar give an unprofessional impression.

6. Customise your URL

LinkedIn will give you a profile URL, which can be used to access your profile directly. It will contain letters and numbers, but you can change it so it has your own name. Set your profile to public and create your own personal profile, i.e. http://www.linkedin.com/in/JaneSmith

7. Be active on LinkedIn

Join groups and contribute to discussions. Plus share regular comments and links to useful web content using your status update box.

8. Who should I connect with?

There are two schools of thought on whether you should accept requests from people you don’t know. One is that it creates more opportunities (open networking), the other is that it is better to stick to connecting with people you know. I recommend that you stick to linking with people you know (school, university, work, etc). However, don’t forget you can connect with folk you come across in LinkedIn groups.

9. Personalise LinkedIn connect requests via in-email

When inviting people to connect with you on LinkedIn, don’t just send the standard connect request – “I’d like to add you to  my professional network on LinkedIn.” Take the opportunity to write a short, personal message that will make you stand out.

10. Update your profile regularly and collect recommendations

As you acquire new qualifications, achievements or promotion, don’t forget to add them to your profile. This will help you stand out and add to the perception of you as a well-rounded character. Share your work on your LinkedIn profile – it’s a great way to showcase your skills to future employers. Similarly try and collect recommendations from employers (past and present) or from work experience placements.

A tragic tale of what patriotism meant for British pets during World War II

Bonzo's War, Animals Under Fire 1939-1945 by Clare Campbell
Bonzo’s War, Animals Under Fire 1939-1945 by Clare Campbell

I have read a number of articles relating to a fascinating new book called Bonzo’s War: Animals Under Fire 1939 -1945 written by Clare Campbell with Christy Campbell. This super book, which deserves all the publicity it can receive, is a fascinating and ultimately tragic account of a little known aspect of patriotism, which occurred as a result of World War II being declared. Namely the mass destruction and abandonment of thousands of pets, not to mention zoo animals.

Back in those days, people did as they were told. So when the Government published a pamphlet called “Air Raid Precautions for Animals”, which  basically said there is a war on and if you can’t care for your animals do the decent thing and have them destroyed, people did just that. With the result that in the space of just one week 750,000 pets were killed. Worse was to follow with fines being imposed on people for feeding their pets.  

But one of the most amazing aspects of this tale is the fantastic job done by organisations such as Battersea Dogs Home, who not only managed to stay open throughout the war with just four members of staff, but who fed and cared for 145,000 dogs during that time. Another unsung hero is the Duchess of Hamilton who created an animal sanctuary at an aerodrome.  BBC News – The little-told story of the massive WWII pet cull.

Marketing & Communication Strategy: What, why, how | Claireodactyl Digital Marketing

It is hugely important to have a content marketing strategy in place, otherwise valuable time and effort could be wasted creating the wrong content. Even a simple plan of action is a good way to kick off with targent audiences and goals clearly identified.

Marketing & Communication Strategy: What, why, how | Claireodactyl Digital Marketing.

Adapting heritage properties to meet commercial needs…guest post for findersandsellsers.com

Adapting heritage properties to meet commercial needs can be their saving grace - guest blog by Property News editor Richenda Oldham for www.findersandsellers.com
Liverpool’s Exchange Station (1888) – built as a train station, rebuilt as modern offices in 1985 with the facade retained and then redeveloped by Space Northwest into 21st Century office space

I was hugely chuffed to be allowed to write a guest blog for the excellent Findersandsellers.com web site. This privately funded web site offers FREE property listings to estate agents around the world and looks set to give Rightmove and Zoopla a run for their money. But for me the best thing about the site is its cracking blog section.

Findersandsellers marketing director Scott Creasey is a superb blogger, who turns in TWO blogs per day, which is quite a benchmark by any standards. They are all extremely well researched and for anyone interested in residential or commercial property or blogging, I thoroughly recommend reading his posts.

The topic I chose to write about for my Findersandsellers guest blog was the importance of regenerating heritage buildings and giving them a new lease of life through commercial use. Property developers are often seen as the big bad boys, but actually it is their vision and expertise that has saved some pretty important pieces of architecture from total dereliction. By rescuing these old buildings, many of which are listed, they are doing much more than just preserving bricks and mortar, they are putting heart back into communities, which in turns inspires commercial confidence and can often turn whole areas around.

Here is the blog Adapting heritage properties to meet commercial needs can be their saving grace complete with images of successful regeneration schemes. Do let me have any feedback or send me examples of local regeneration projects that you rate.

Roald Dahl gave me my first tips on how to keep inspired as a writer

Where do writers find their inspiration?

For those of us who earn a living writing, keeping the ideas flowing for new content is a must. So do we just sit at our desks waiting for divine inspiration to strike?

No we jolly well don’t. As a double hatter (journalist and copywriter), two of the earliest idea-garnering tips I picked up were from one of my childhood heroes, the author Roald Dahl.

Author Roald Dahl kept notebooks full of ideas for his children's books
Author Roald Dahl kept notebooks full of ideas for his children’s books

Dahl kept notebooks to record his ideas. In fact he was never without one in which to jot down his moment of inspiration before it left him. “Without my little notebook, I would be quite helpless.”

1) Keep a Notebook

Lesson number one in how to beat a blank page is keep a note of ALL your ideas, no matter how bad or trivial they seem, as soon as you possibly can. Because inevitably you will have a great lightbulb moment while driving or in the shower (I have all my best thoughts while immersed in water), and then promptly forget all about it.

A notebook is a writer's lifesaver as is a camera
A notebook is a writer’s lifesaver as is a camera

So keeping a notebook (whether electronic or paper) with you at all times could be a lifesaver. A one word idea can become a sentence, followed by subheadings and before you know it you have a complete outline for an article and the piece has practically written itself.

2) Yes, it’s ok to recycle ideas

The second tip I picked up from Dahl’s methods of working was that he wasn’t afraid to recycle his ideas. Often the same characters appear in different books and one novel, Danny The Champion of the World, started life as a short story in the New Yorker, before being published as a book nearly 20 years later.

A similar technique can be applied (with care I hasten to add) to your own ideas. A single broad topic can be expanded in numerous directions to suit different forms of publishing and different audiences.

3) Read and learn

Read, read and read some more again. Get into the habit of reading newspapers, magazines and news sources on the internet. Subscribe to RSS feeds and relevant email updates. Keeping yourself informed is not an option it is a necessity.

4) Read and rip (keep a visual or virtual pinboard)

A noticeboard is useful for keeping visual ideas
A noticeboard is useful for keeping visual ideas

I frequently find visual ideas in print magazines and tear them out to be stuck on the pinboard next to my desk. This is particularly effective if I’m writing a piece about interior trends. The same applies to when I’m trawling the internet for inspiration. I have dozens of topic folders on the go. I also find Pocket an incredibly useful tool for saving web content that has inspired me.

5) Observe your competitors

A good writer is by definition extremely observant. Keep an eye open as to what your competitors are up to (this is where LinkedIn can be extremely useful, as of course you can follow your competitors). This helps you keep sharp, because there’s no better kick up the backside than seeing a piece of inspirational copy that’s been really well written by an arch rival. It’s like an electric shock and a great call to action to improve your own efforts, prompting you to ask how they got the idea in the first place, who they interviewed and how well received were their efforts.

6) Dig down deeper with research

Research is always one of my favourite resources for inspiration. I frequently find myself digging down into a kernel of an idea, only to discover (normally much to my relief) that there is far more material than I had originally envisaged.

7) Get out and  talk to people!

Finally, inspiration doesn’t have to strike while stuck behind a desk. For heaven’s sake, go out there and get some fresh air and meet some new faces. If you are a freelance journalist, make sure you attend press events, exhibitions, trade show etc. While for the copywriter, networking events are an excellent source of ideas. These often have a speaker laid on and offer the chance to talk to different people. So not only is it a good way to pick up new business, it’s also a way of recharging the little grey cells when at a low ebb.