VOLUME 25 #2

Current cover


Leveraging the Power of LinkedIn

Tips and tricks to building your professional networks
in the digital age

by Jill Gugino Pante, EHD05M

Illustration of someone being leveraged on a teeter totter and soaring

ALUMNI & FRIENDS | Almost 10 years ago, a great wave of alumni flooded career services centers all over the United States. The Great Recession had struck, and suddenly working men and women were forced back into a turbulent labor market, a challenge they had never thought they’d face.

People had gotten comfortable in their careers and hadn’t given much thought to a future without those jobs. As a career counselor, I saw a clear lesson: We need to prepare our students and alumni to be “change-ready” and to look at our professional development through the eyes of an entrepreneur.

Meeting with mid-career job-seekers, I stressed the importance of networking, connections, professional associations—and LinkedIn, the social media tool that effortlessly merges all of the above while allowing you to build your personal brand.

When Reid Hoffman created LinkedIn, he was testing the theory of six degrees of separation (for those Gen-Xers, Boomers and Traditionals, it’s “the Kevin Bacon game”). LinkedIn was built upon the theory that any six people can theoretically be connected to everyone in the world through their jobs or relationships. As the site took off, Hoffman realized that it wasn’t six people, but rather, three or four. Meaning our world has gotten a lot smaller.

LinkedIn is my passion. I’m on it almost weekly, but you can reap its benefits far more simply. Whether you’re a pro or beginner, here are some tips on making the most of your time there.

Post a professional photo. No cropped arms of the person next to you. No group photos. No glamour shots. Just you, professionally dressed, looking at the camera and smiling.

Take a shot at a “tagline.” If you can summarize your brand in one sentence, what would it be?

Personalize your URL. Make sure you personalize the LinkedIn URL with your name—not your name followed by a bunch of letters and numbers, which is standard.

Write a good summary. I know it’s a pain, but you need to have this! This is your 30-second commercial. What are your skills? Your achievements? Where do you want to go? This doesn’t have to be career-related. Maybe you’re just looking to connect with people.

Experience, Education, Leadership. Include it all. For the most part, this is a simple copy-and-paste from your resumé. Make sure the bullet descriptions are results-oriented and data-driven. Employers don’t care what you did at your job; they want to know what you accomplished.

Follow companies, groups and schools. A recruiter once told me that when they have an immediate opening, they will look at who follows them on LinkedIn before posting the position. It’s better for them to find someone who possesses the right skills and has an interest in their company.

Follow the University of Delaware page. As I’m typing this, there are more than 114,000 UD alumni on LinkedIn. When you’re on the UD’s LinkedIn page, click on the Career Insights button, where you can drill down to where alumni live and work AND see what they do.

Don’t hesitate—reach out! I’ve never met a Blue Hen who doesn’t want to help another Blue Hen. Students are always amazed to find alumni working at the very places they aspire to join. I encourage our students and alumni to reach out to hear the person’s story and ask for advice. That conversation could inspire a genuine relationship. And, by not taking the initiative to reach out, an opportunity could be lost. I always ask, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Sure, you could get ignored, but it’s not the end of the world. I get ignored all the time (mostly by my children), and I survive.

Don’t hesitate—reach out! No, this is not a typo. I included it again because I want to make sure you get the message. Reach out to people by connecting to them and personalize that message so they know why you’re reaching out. “Hi, my name is Jill Pante and I am a fellow graduate of the University of Delaware. I saw that you work at XYZ company and have had an impressive career there. I recently applied to a position with XYZ, and I was hoping to connect to hear about your background, your experience with XYZ, and get any advice.”

Professional networking in the digital age is far more accessible than it’s ever been. It just takes an entrepreneurial spirit—of marketing your skills, growing your network and building your brand. There’s no better time to start than now.

photo of Jill Gugino Pante

Jill Gugino Pante, EHD05M, is the director of the Lerner Career Services Center. Connect to her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/jillguginopante.


Helping Hens

The job market is a lot like a gated community, says Nathan Elton, UD’s director of Career Services: “You could scale the wall, but the easiest way in is for someone on the inside to give you the code to the door.”

That’s true of any industry, and it’s especially significant when it comes to higher education, where one’s alma mater has the potential to open doors that may have otherwise remained closed. That’s the goal, says Elton. To achieve it, the University must continue to expand its employer network, relying heavily on the connectivity of the alumni community for support.

If you’re a proud Blue Hen looking to share your expertise, insights or career opportunities with current students and graduates, consider participating in one or more of the following*:

“Hire a Hen” Internship and Job Drive: Share an internship or full-time position at your place of employment with UD’s Career Services Center (CSC) or help build a recruiting relationship by connecting your human resources representative with CSC’s employer relations team.

UD’s Career Advising Network: Join more than 1,500 alumni who have signed up to provide career guidance, resume critiques and mock interviews to Blue Hens interested in your areas of expertise.

Job Shadow: Sign up to host a student for a half-day (or longer) at your workplace, providing them a first-hand account of the ins and outs of your field.

Connect with alumni on LinkedIn: More than 110,000 Blue Hens can be found on UD’s LinkedIn page (www.linkedin.com/school/6807), where you can search for contacts by employer, geographic location, job function, industry, skill set and more.

* Information on all of the programs can be found at www.udel.edu/students/career-services-center/alumni