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LinkedIn Links Colleges to Its Network

Professional social network LinkedIn recently launched its latest marketing initiative, LinkedIn for Higher Education, to include features targeted towards the increasing number of college students on its site.

“College students and recent graduates represent the bulk of our latest growth” says Sarah Acton, LinkedIn’s Director for Higher Education. Forbes’ Josh Bersin sees this as critical to the company’s growth, with an increasingly younger workforce population whose information is vital for LinkedIn’s continued success in providing revenue-gaining information to corporate recruiters.

This led Acton and her team to develop LinkedIn University Pages last August. These University Pages provide “a new home for all of our (currently 1000+) higher education institutions on LinkedIn…giving them the ability to brand themselves with things like photos and videos and give updates about what’s happening on campus”. Most importantly for college students, these pages provide a convenient place for university-specific alumni networking.

Acton demonstrated this feature to me at LinkedIn’s Mountain View, CA offices. One is able to filter through alumni by their employer, major, and other factors. For example, if one hypothetically wanted to intern at Adobe as a Psychology major, Sarah was able to quickly navigate to the relevant people one could network with to ask about their own experience. Students are able to find out information and explore whether a certain career path is something they would like to pursue. By having this alumni-based feature, one now has the “ability to connect with somebody in a more personal way where you share a relationship – something in common. This opens up a lot of doors.”

And above all, the alumni search tool lets students have an idea of what people of their major do after graduating college. “Say you know where you wanted to be. You can also look and see what people [who] majored in Econ, Polisci…[and find] what kind of jobs they have.”

In addition to Pages are LinkedIn’s other search features – with internship and job hunting season settling well in students’ minds, LinkedIn features a comprehensive ability to find specific internships by location and company, providing greater depth students can make use of.

More information is offered by the LinkedIn for Higher Education site, which features various videos, checklists, and tip sheets describing how one should establish their social media presence on LinkedIn. These videos take the form of short animated sequences, getting straight to the point “theres a couple of videos that are just a fun way to talk about the value of LinkedIn…the things to do and not to do…to bring our professional selves to life” – these featured titles including “Building a Great Student Profile,” or “Top 5 Profile To-Do’s.” These videos show students a way to effectively take advantage of and use LinkedIn’s many tools and features.

LinkedIn has also broadened its audience to include those who are preparing for college.

“We announced we were lowering the age of our Terms of Service…depending on local laws,” – in the U.S., students as young as 14 – allowing high school students to join LinkedIn and start exploring their college options.

The same University Pages providing information on alumni networks and job information useful for college students can be usable for high school students. High school students can see the types of jobs students of a university typically graduate with, as well as network with current students to converse regarding their school. According to Acton, high school students can now ask current students at a university “I see we both went to the same high school – would you be willing to chat with me? [This is] an amazing piece of information that students would not have gotten before.”

According to a report issued by the National Association for College Admission Consulting (NACAC), over a third of college freshmen transfer institutions after their first year. By providing easily-accessible information to high school students researching colleges to apply to, Acton hopes students can find the college that has the best “fit” for them.

But regardless of age or purpose, Acton advises students in general to “be active” as her final words of advice, whether that is reading content written by influencers in certain industries, or simply tapping into one’s own potential. “Just be engaged, and add stuff to your profile; show the world who you are!”

LinkedIn is not just for professionals already in industry. As Acton herself put it: “our vision for tomorrow is to shine a light on data and connecting people…[and] we believe [it] starts with higher education.”

(Photo Credits: http://geniusrecruiter.com)

Toby Lee

About Toby Lee

Toby Lee is a sophomore from Palo Alto, CA who focuses on NBR's Technology and Innovation section. He is currently majoring in Economics and Communication Studies with a focus on Digital Media, and is mainly interested in finding how improving communication in the business world can help organizations run more efficiently, as well as how to effectively market products in an increasingly digital-based world.

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