Link in to social media professionalism

Social media doesn’t always add strength to a personal identity on the Internet, but LinkedIn, a professional social media website, has a mission to link professionals together without the unnecessary, sometimes unflattering, content. Whitney Kinne, the assistant director for CAFNR career services, discusses social media in this Q&A and offers advice to using social media sites like LinkedIn to further a professional online identity.

Q: How is LinkedIn different from any other forms of social media?
W: By virtue of the mission to connect professionals from around the world, I think students, veteran employers or employees use LinkedIn to build a professional identity and use it in a ‘good light’.

Q: What are the benefits to having those capabilities to connect with professionals?
W: The overall benefit to LinkedIn is that ability to stay connected and having a virtual network of professionals. More specifically, CAFNR students have a really unique opportunity to meet professionals in person and then take that contact online rather than collecting a business card that could potentially be disposed of or lost.

Q: Is LinkedIn simple to use?
W: LinkedIn takes simple, social networking but applies it like a cocktail party or a networking event that other social media sites have not done. The connections users make are more genuine because the user is building a network of personal professional connections and not just another additional ‘friend’ to add to the numbered list.

Q: Is LinkedIn a part of the hiring process now?
W: Absolutely. Recruiters and employers are posting open positions on LinkedIn and by following those companies it will show changes using updates on a users newsfeed.

Q: Does CAFNR provide a LinkedIn group?
W: Yes, it’s called the “MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Alumni” and all students are capable of joining. It is not restricted to alumni. This group provides an opportunity for CAFNR students to connect more quickly to researchers, professionals or simply other connections in a field of work associated with CAFNR.

Final thoughts:
W: Of all the social media, this seems to be a “no-brainer.” I think to a student audience, LinkedIn is perceived as less exciting. The mission is to connect professionals and it can be very effective if the user is willing to engage in it. Students should begin engaging on LinkedIn as soon as possible because it is much more advantageous to reach out and connect with professionals in the field as a freshman, sophomore, or junior. The perception as a senior reaching out during the last semester of their undergraduate, it seems needy. Preparation is an extremely important trait that employers want in their team members. By engaging in LinkedIn early, a student can help prepare and build those connections before graduation.