Career center helps young professionals network

GVL / Luke Holmes - Sutdents walk around searching for the next booth to visit. The career fair was held in the Devos Place Thursday, Feb. 26, 2016.

GVL / Luke Holmes – Sutdents walk around searching for the next booth to visit. The career fair was held in the Devos Place Thursday, Feb. 26, 2016.

Kyle Bindas

In the modern, digital world, many connections and conversations are online. The internet is a powerful tool, and when used for more than sharing selfies and cat .gifs, it can jump start a person’s professional life. The website LinkedIn provides a huge opportunity to grow a professional network and open up doors to starting a career.

It’s easy to think of LinkedIn as just another name on the long list of social media sites that exist today, but LinkedIn is far beyond just another way to connect with people.

“This is an online version of your resume and portfolio, and the most efficient way to build your professional network,” said Breeann Gorham, associate director of the Grand Valley State University Career Center.

For students who are interested in growing their network online but aren’t sure where to start, GVSU’s Career Center is a valuable resource when creating a profile. The Career Center strongly endorses the website as a tool to make moves professionally, and gives tips and workshops periodically about how to use it effectively.

Networking is an incredibly important part of finding a job in competitive industries. LinkedIn gives the user the ability to talk to representatives of companies, get information about companies and even apply for jobs that companies post to the website.

Users can even follow companies to learn new information about them, and see when new jobs are posted.

LinkedIn reports that its user base is over 414 million and still growing. The website is full of groups in all kinds of professional fields, and most people on the site understand that networking is a main goal.

“People on LinkedIn they know what that site is for, so they’re very receptive to relationship building that way, helping out if they can,” Gorham said. “Students might feel shy at first, but they always get a warm reception. People are usually willing to answer questions about their job or their company.”

LinkedIn can be used to keep in contact with people from college, former coworkers, professors and former bosses in addition to just meeting professionals. The website is about maintaining a network as well as building one.

LinkedIn can be a great tool for a network, but it should not be depended on for all your networking needs.

“This shouldn’t be the only way you network, it should be the way you file your network, so you can still make personal connections and be face to face as much as possible,” Gorham said. “Your email rapport, maybe a phone conversation will be more effective than if you just message through LinkedIn.”

While it’s easy to compare LinkedIn to other social media, there are some key differences that separate it from other websites, such as behavioral etiquette.

“We want students to really understand that it’s not to be used like Facebook,” Gorham said. “It’s not to stay connected to friends, it’s not social. It’s not to post pictures and make people laugh, it’s all relating to a field.”

For LinkedIn help, visit the Career Center. Walk-in advising sessions are from 10 a.m. until noon and 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The Career Center is located in Room 206 in the Student Services Building on the Allendale Campus, or at 101-B in the DeVos Center on the Pew Campus.

To learn more, visit