By: Kris Schneider
Almost one year ago, I signed up for the professional social networking site LinkedIn. Your first response to that statement may be, “but isn’t LinkedIn for college graduates and professionals?” Well, it was, until last year when the company decided to open the service up to high school and college students around the world. In doing this, LinkedIn allows students from the same high school to connect, and for students from all over the globe to connect based on their interests. One of my “connections,” similar to a “friend” on Facebook, is Caldron co Editor-in-Chief Nicky Barone, and we have been able to complement each other by making our accounts the best they can be. If you were to search either one of us, you would find that we have journalism experience, through The Caldron. You would also find that we have both been active in our community, through numerous volunteer organizations. Most importantly, you’d find that we both take challenging courses in school and have academic recognition by both James Caldwell High School and other organizations. My connection to Nicky is just the beginning of this crazy thing called “networking.”
Networking. It’s a term you’ve probably heard thrown around by your parents and your guidance counselors. Merriam-Webster defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” LinkedIn provides a simple channel for individuals to network with each other, to build relationships, and to be productive in the workforce. When I graduate from high school, my LinkedIn profile will change to acknowledge my alumnus status. I can then be connected to other alumni from James Caldwell High School, whether they want to connect to catch up, or they want to give fellow alumni career opportunities. At the same time, my profile will reflect my college choice, and I’ll be able to connect with fellow incoming freshmen. Those connections will be carried with me through my college career, and into the workforce. When I’m looking for my first job, my LinkedIn connections will be great resources for the search, and I might even be able to find someone in a key hiring position. “Key hiring position.” You may recognize that phrase from some college commercial, and write it off as some clever marketing ploy. I promise you, it is real, and you will be looking for people you know in hiring positions to help you out when you graduate.
LinkedIn and similar services are tremendous tools in building your resume. I cannot express how important it is to begin networking now, because it can affect your schooling, your career, and in a cliche twist, your life. I’m connected with Nicky now, but as we both gain new connections as we choose different paths in our schooling and our careers, we can use each other’s connections to seek new opportunities and grow as professionals. Networking is not something to be brushed off. Network now, and reap the benefits later.