Building Skills

LinkedIn 101

LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network with more than 300 million users. It connects you to people you know and lets you view their connections, greatly increasing potential networking contacts and internship and job leads.

Why LinkedIn?

  • 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn for hiring purposes.
  • There are more than 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.
  • It helps you stay connected to those you know and those you meet.
  • It helps to enhance your online professional presence.

Using LinkedIn

Do you think you want to be a CFO someday? With LinkedIn, you can look at other users’ profiles to research career paths. Where did they start out? Do they have an MBA or another graduate degree? What did they major in during their undergraduate years? What internships did they have?

Ways to use LinkedIn

  • Informational interviewing. Used LinkedIn to research individuals in your field of interest and ask if they would be willing to speak with you about their career paths.
  • Connect with alumni. Join the official BU Alumni Association LinkedIn group to connect with fellow Terriers, network, receive career advice, and research internship and job leads.
  • Check out organizations and employers. Use LinkedIn to research and follow organizations you are interested in working for. Who works there? Are they hiring? Do they use LinkedIn to post opportunities?
  • Further your professional development through groups and connections. Joining groups and displaying the group badges on your profile are perfect ways to show your desire to connect to people with whom you have something in common as well as to find out what’s trending in your field.

Getting Started with LinkedIn

  • Sign up for a LinkedIn account on All you need is an email address.
  • LinkedIn will prompt you to import your contacts. We suggest that you skip this step. Be selective in those you connect with and customize your message.
  • To increase the professional results that appear when people type your name into a search engine, claim a unique URL for your profile. If possible, change this to your name. You can include this on your resume or business cards.
  • We suggest setting your LinkedIn profile to “public” so that others can search for you. You can also select who can see your activity feed, what others see when you’ve viewed their profile, who can see your connections, and how much of your profile others can see.

Creating an Effective Profile

After you sign up for an account, you will want to create an effective and engaging LinkedIn profile. Check out the tips below. For more in-depth advice, check out our advice on building a LinkedIn profile.

  • Choose an appropriate photo. Select a professional, high-quality headshot of you alone.
  • Establish an eye-catching headline. This should be who you are in just a few words.
  • Develop a professional summary. Your summary should be an expansion of your headline and should resemble the first few paragraphs of your best-written cover letter.
  • Include relevant experience, such as past internships, jobs, volunteer work, etc., in the experience section.
  • Show off your education. Include information about all institutions you’ve attended. Include your major and minor(s), as well as highlights of your activities.
  • Add relevant skills and expertise. Use this section to receive endorsements from your connections and to search for members with expertise you are interested in exploring.
  • Add rich media. Show off your accomplishments by adding PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, links to blogs or content you’ve created, and more.

Connecting to Others

Connect with those you know. This includes past and current co-workers, classmates, friends, family members, and other contacts you may have met at conferences or networking events. These will be your first-level connections.

There are four levels of connections: first is a direct connection with someone; second is a friend of a friend; third is a friend of a friend of a friend. Connecting to a third-level connection could prove to be difficult. We recommend focusing on your first-and second-level connections. There are also group connections, meaning you are in the same LinkedIn group as that person.

When connecting to others, LinkedIn provides a basic message: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” We recommend that you personalize all messages when you connect with others. Include a brief message on how you found the person you are inviting to connect, convey something personal, why you want to connect with him/her, and offer reciprocity. An example could include: “It was nice to meet you at the ____ conference. I enjoyed speaking with you about ____. I’d like to connect with you to ensure we stay in touch in the future.”

Unique Features

Another way to use LinkedIn is to search for alumni. Under the Connections tab, click “find alumni” to search for BU alumni by where they live, the organization they work for, what industry they work in, what they studied, what skills they’ve been endorsed for, and more. This is a great tool to use to connect with others for informational interviews and to understand career paths alumni have taken.