LinkedIn is the Facebook of the business world. I started my LinkedIn page back in 2013 when I was 16 years old, and I have used it to connect with 130 mentors, clients, and fellow conspirators in crime. If you are in high school, I would recommend taking an hour to join LinkedIn and set up your profile to get a head start on growing your connections and career. Keep reading to learn how.
Reasons Why You Should Create a LinkedIn Profile at a Young Age
1. Lay the Foundations for Your Career
It is never too early to start your career. I started mine at age 14. Although “adulting” might seem tedious and boring, it can actually be exciting to work on professional projects. And getting checks in the mail is also very fun.
2. Stay in Touch With Your Adult Supporters
If you have common sense, you will know that in certain scenarios it is not appropriate to become Facebook friends with an adult while you are still a child. However, LinkedIn is a safe and socially acceptable place to keep in touch with your educational/career/life mentors.
3. Look like a Pro
Simply having a LinkedIn page at a young age will set you apart from other high schoolers and make adults think you know what you’re doing.
4. Broaden Your Job Search to Bring in the Dough
Whether or not you are currently looking for a job, you be will at some point (welcome to the afore mentioned “adulting”). And when you do, it will be very beneficial to reach out to your LinkedIn connections to ask if they know of any job openings. You can also explore the recruiting side of LinkedIn. (I personally don’t have experience with searching for jobs on LinkedIn, but I do know that most job recruiters use LinkedIn.)
Take 5 Minutes to Sign Up
To sign up for LinkedIn for free, go to www.linkedin.com and sign up. It’s super simple and free. LinkedIn might try and upsell you to premium, but you do not need that right now. I have never upgraded to premium, and I doubt I’ll ever want to.
Once you have your LinkedIn account created, don’t worry about filling out all the ten million sections you can display on your profile. Below are the six main sections you should address.
Filling Out a Basic Profile
Use the name that people will recognize you by. If you use a nickname (such as I do), use the name that people commonly call you.
2. Profile Picture
Use a professional looking picture. No selfies, and probably no pictures from Facebook. If you do not have a photo that will work, don’t worry about it. Don’t upload a profile photo until you have a professional looking headshot.
3. Professional Headline
This is a short space where you can write down your job title or industry. If you have a job, I would recommend putting your title here. If you do not have a job, use your tagline to say what type of jobs you’re interested in. (For example, if I were job hunting for a graphic design job, I would use my professional headline to say “Print & Web Graphic Designer.”)
If you are still in high school, you probably don’t need to worry about the education section, which is usually just used for college. I personally am not going to college, so I don’t include that section in my profile.
Some people say that summaries are unneeded. Personally I think it’s a place where you can creatively sum up your career and goals, but I didn’t have one until recently. If you do decide to write one, keep it short, simple, concise, and professional. If you are not sure what to write, do not include one.
If you have held any jobs, add them to your profile. You can add as many positions as you want. Here are some special scenarios to keep in mind.
If you got fired after one month: If you got fired early on, I would not include it on your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn page is a place where you present your best foot forward. Although you should always be entirely honest about everything you include, you can choose to leave some things out.
Should you include High School Clubs? If you are a member of a high school club, you may want to include it in either the “Volunteer” or “Projects” section. If this club does not relate to what you want to do for your career and isn’t unique, for example “Member of the Save the Rubber Duckies Campaign,” I would not include it here. But if you are an active member of a club that demonstrates your knowledge or leadership skills, you can include it. You won’t want to keep all high school related projects on your profile forever, but now while you’re still young, they can show that you are a hardworking “go-getter” (as the adults like to say). For example, on my LinkedIn page I included that I was the team captain and graphic designer of a high school robotics team for three years.
Who to Invite to Connect
Obviously if any of your friends are on LinkedIn, you can invite them to connect.
If you are lucky enough to have met mentors during high school, or if you know anyone who has given you guidance and seems legitimately interested in your future, search for them and send them a connection request.
If you have a job, find your fellow job-mates on LinkedIn and invite them to connect. If you have a good relationship with your boss, you could also invite them to connect. But as always, use good judgment and common sense in choosing who to invite. Inviting your boss might not be the best thing to do, so just think about your unique situation.
Should You Connect with Your Teachers?
Since I was homeschooled for the majority of my education, I am not sure if it’s the social norm to connect with your teachers on LinkedIn. If they were mentor figures to you, it is probably fine to connect. But if they just taught you English three years ago and wouldn’t recognize you if they saw you in a store, I would not send them a connection request.
When inviting people, remember that you want to be professional and not seem like you’re grabbing for connections. Quality over quantity.
What to do Once You Finish Setting up Your LinkedIn Page
Once you have set up your LinkedIn page, don’t fret if you don’t immediately rack up over a hundred connections. It’s not like Facebook where people use the number of friends to dictate your future life success. With LinkedIn, the goal is to create a base for your career that you can grow over time.
And for goodness sake, don’t fret about “winning the LinkedIn game.” In fact, don’t worry about winning any social media game. There are much more important things in life. Instead, start projects you love, and work hard at everything you do.
If you’re interested in hearing more of my thoughts about young entrepreneurship, click the button below.
If you are a highschooler interested in learning graphic design, check out this post about how I became a freelance graphic designer without a degree.