A few weeks ago, a study was released that out of all the social networks in use among the 18-35 demographic, LinkedIn, the network designed for professionals and expanding a professional network, had a staggering 26% usage rate among young people. As one may imagine, that’s somewhat alarming. At a time where the job market in the United States is less than stellar (7.5% unemployment nationwide and 11.1 % among 18-29 year olds) building a network is important for both professional development and for finding the right kind of job.
However, the numbers should not be all that surprising. For recent grads (particularly those who graduated before 2011) LinkedIn was not a preferred social network among college students. In the same way that Facebook used to not be open to the general public, LinkedIn was more used only between professionals who wished to build their networks and display their credentials online.
Today, LinkedIn has well over 200 Million members, is available in several languages and is one of the most popular networks among professionals at all levels. So why is there still hesitancy to get on the network? One thing we have seen over these past few years is, “If you don’t have a digital footprint, you don’t exist”. So it’s essential in this case to have one that can speak to your strengths.
In an effort to encourage young adults to get on LinkedIn, we’d like to lay out a few reasons as to why you should be using LinkedIn more frequently:
1. Build yourself a network:
Unlike Facebook, building a network on LinkedIn filled with fellow alumni of your alma mater is one way for people to remember you and to also stay in the sights of potential employers. A strong network from your Alma Mater as well as people you meet in professional veins can form some of the best connections imaginable. You don’t even need to have been friends in school but it can lead to other kinds of relationships later on.
2. You can ask questions and learn more about your industry or even someone else’s:
Chances are, even if you have a degree/ related degree in a field you want to be employed in, you don’t know everything about it. But that’s not unique to college students/recent grads. LinkedIn, when used as a conversational tool is great way to both share and receive information. Especially with regard to new trends, it helps to speak up and ask the people in your community about things that you want to know without being shy.
Bonus: You can learn something about another industry that also interests you. You’d be surprised what you can learn and later use.
3. It is the most surefire way to find a job:
People who are lucky enough to have connections, get their jobs through doing so. Everyone else: uses LinkedIn to find theirs. Did you know that 70% of job postings today are posted on LinkedIn? At those rates you’re bound to find something in the field where you’re searching to develop yourself professionally. It also happens to be the social media resource that recruiters check most.
4. Continue to build your network!
Network building in the digital age is not a one-time shot. Rather it is a continually developing process that serves for as long as you use it. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to stay current in what’s going on across industries at a professional level. There is little confusion about what the network is designed for unlike others where the lines of usage are somewhat more ambiguous.
In this day and age it is imperative to use the digital tools around us to stay not only abreast of what’s going on in our respective professions but, to also be sure to be visible to the people in our networks. Whether it be direct, through an Alma Mater or even an actual friend whom you know, developing and connecting with your network(s) on a professional level is a safe way for you to remain visible and more importantly, when the time comes for you to call upon those networks you will be more than a familiar face.