When you aren’t able to travel or meet with others face-to-face, LinkedIn is a great way to stay professionally active and continue to grow.
As a professional, LinkedIn is a social media site that’s useful for anyone. And it’s not just for people in the middle of a job search (though it’s great for that as well). Over the years, LinkedIn has grown into a giant hub for professionals in nearly every industry. It’s a home for professional development, networking, and highlighting the accomplishments of yourself and your coworkers.
As financial aid professionals, we’re at our best when we’re able to learn from each other. Working from home instead of our offices – and being unable to attend conferences – can increase feelings of isolation. But the support we give each other doesn’t end because we can’t see each other regularly. LinkedIn is a great way to maintain your connections and relationships with people who understand the unique world you’re working in. Here’s a few tips to use it well.
Before you start – double-check your profile information.
It’s good to do this on a regular basis, anyway. If you haven’t used your LinkedIn profile in a while, go through all the sections to make sure everything is accurate and up-to-date. Don’t forget to add new responsibilities you’ve gained, awards you’ve received, or examples of work you’re especially proud of. Also, take this opportunity to look at your “About” section. It doesn’t need to be long, but it should be interesting enough to grab someone’s attention and give a high-level introduction to what you do.
Check out LinkedIn groups (or start one for your institution).
LinkedIn is a great place to get articles and insights from people in your field – but your connections aren’t necessarily all in your field, are they? Since they’re often incredibly targeted and personalized, groups are a great way to connect with and learn from people who you know are in your field. For higher education and financial aid, here are a few of the more popular groups we’d recommend (in case you aren’t a member already).
- Higher Education Management (Powered by Education Dive)
- Learning in Higher Education
- Leaders in Higher Education
- Higher Ed Financial Aid & Enrollment
- College Counselors: Admissions and Financial Aid
- My ScholarNet
Virtually networking is a new, but similar, world.
Often, connecting with someone on LinkedIn is the result of meeting them in some form. An interesting conversation at a conference, an especially insightful speaker from a webinar you enjoyed – it can feel strange to connect with someone without that initial interaction. A great way to find new connections is to use the groups you belong to. Even if you’ve found someone in your field that you’ve never met before, it’s totally fine to send a “cold” connection. Include a note in your invite explaining how you found them, why you’re looking to connect, and conversations you’d love to have over a virtual cup of coffee. It starts the relationship off on the right foot. (And you get an excuse for more coffee – can you say win-win?)
Catch up with existing connections.
LinkedIn isn’t just about the new connections. This is a fantastic time to catch up with connections you haven’t spoken to in a while. If possible, see if they’d be open to a video call for a more personal note. Even if you aren’t able to have a live discussion, a simple email or LinkedIn message is a great way to keep connections alive and well. Like any relationship, they’ll appreciate the time you spent reaching out and thinking of them. Come across an article you really enjoyed? Send it their way and ask for their thoughts. Just as you appreciate it when peers share interesting articles, your connection will too. It’s also a great way to reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while or don’t know as well as you’d like. While you’re at it, try regularly sharing articles on your LinkedIn feed (if you don’t already). This allows you to build multiple relationships by reaching a broader audience.
Explore professional development courses on LinkedIn Learning.
In its current state, LinkedIn Learning is a relatively new player in the online education sphere (though the platform itself operated under a different name for over a decade). Like many other online training tools, LinkedIn offers thousands of courses in a variety of fields. If your LinkedIn information is accurate, it will also automatically recommend trending courses, and courses based on your field of work. Check out LinkedIn Learning for Higher Education.
At ScholarNet, we’re always ready to share articles, explore interesting ideas, and answer questions. We value our relationship with you. Contact your rep or connect with us on LinkedIn to keep in touch – we’d love to chat!