If you’ve never been on LinkedIn before, you’re probably wondering “What is it?” It’s one of the biggest social networking platforms in the world. If you know how to use any other social networking platforms (like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr or Pinterest), then LinkedIn will be really easy for you to figure out.

LinkedIn is like Facebook … but for work friends

Facebook is a great place for you to connect with friends, then chat and share stuff with each other.

LinkedIn is very similar … but instead of connecting and sharing with people in your personal life, you do that with people in your work life. Yes, some of my Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter contacts are also LinkedIn contacts … but not usually.

LinkedIn is a really easy way to meet people!

If you hate meeting new people or find it really hard to go to big networking events, then you will LOVE LinkedIn! You can skip all those awkward handshakes and reach out to people from the comfort of your own home or anywhere you are. It’s so easy to say hello online!

LinkedIn is where recruiters look for new candidates!

94% of recruiters look for new candidates on LinkedIn, and most of them look there BEFORE they look anywhere else (DSM study). They expect you to be out there, so it really is important for you to be on LinkedIn. If they don’t find you on LinkedIn, most recruiters will forget about you and invite the people they do find in for a job interview.

What you can use LinkedIn for (why it’s gonna be great for you)

There are tons of cool things you can do with LinkedIn. Here are a few of the most important:

1.  To get your “online resume” in front of recruiters and hiring managers. Once you fill in your summary and work history on LinkedIn, it will be an online resume for you. As I said, 94% of recruiters will be looking for you on LinkedIn. Make sure they can find you!  

2.  To apply for jobs. Tons of companies post jobs on LinkedIn. You can search for jobs, and LinkedIn will also send you jobs that match your skills.

3.  To connect with people who can help you. The best thing about LinkedIn is this: every single day, people are helping each other find jobs, get promotions and learn what’s new in their industry. Once people are connected to you, most of them will be happy to help you, and give advice as well as ask you for your advice. Absolute strangers have done really cool things for me … like referring me to new jobs and recommending me as a resource for friends of theirs.

4.  To get back in touch with old classmates who are working in your career area. They can give you great advice about how they got their job, and how you can get a job like theirs.

5.  To get in touch with alumni from your college. Alumni will be really excited to hear from you. most of them will be more than happy to give you advice about how to get a job at their company, and many of them will even refer you in to the hiring manager inside their company.

6.  To get back in touch with old coworkers. If you liked working with someone in the past, they will probably be really happy to hear from you. Plus, once you’re reconnected with then, there’s a really good chance they will think of you when they hear about the “hidden jobs.”

7.  To get back in touch with old bosses (who can hire you again and be good referrals for you).

8.  To find great new contacts. I could tell you about hundreds of cool things – and new jobs – that I’ve gotten through strangers on LinkedIn. Some of my favorite are chances to work in other countries. I spoke in South Africa a few years ago because of someone I connected with on LinkedIn, and I just got invited to go on a speaking tour in India through someone I connected with on LinkedIn.

9.  To share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with the world! My LinkedIn blog posts are read by people all over the world … which leads to really cool new connections, conversations and career opportunities for me.

“Do I need to be on LinkedIn?”

Most college students feel like they don’t need to be on LinkedIn, but that’s really sad … because they are missing out on one of the easiest and best ways to get a job, and advance in your career. If you want to get a job, and get ahead in your career, then yes ... you really do need to be on LinkedIn.

Check out the next module “LinkedIn: why bother” to learn more about how and why people are getting jobs on LinkedIn.

Are people in my industry on LinkedIn?

Yes! Just go do a “keyword search” on LinkedIn for people in your industry, and you will soon see how many people are out there … just waiting to connect with you. For example …

I just looked for “cosmetologists,” and found 294,954 results. I looked for “AutoCAD” and found 6,849,714 people with AutoCAD in their LinkedIn profile. “Restaurant” brought me 3,437,339 results. “Technology” brought me 56,349,035 people! So yes … people in your industry are out there! Perhaps most important is this: managers and other people with the power and desire to hire you are out there. Once you’re on LinkedIn, they will be able to find you and you will be able to find them!

How to get started on LinkedIn

The best way to get started on LinkedIn is this:

1.  Go to www.linkedin.com and set up an account (just like you set up new accounts on any social platform). Use the name (first and last) that most people know you by. In other words, if your real name is "Joseph" but most people call you "Joe," then you should set up your account using "Joe."

2.  Use our LinkedIn Checklist (in the module below) to set up your LinkedIn profile. Click the module in the Job Hunt Action Planner called “The LinkedIn Checklist makes it easy!” Just go through that step by step, and you’ll be doing the most important things in the right order.

Let go of perfect!  

There is no such thing as a perfect LinkedIn profile, so don’t worry too much about getting things “just right.” Follow the checklist, do your best, then let it go. Live with it for a little while, then come back and update (edit) your profile once you get some new ideas.