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8 Tips to Maximize Your Online Image and LinkedIn Brand

Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. Instagram. These are popular social media platforms for college students to communicate with their peers and to be part of the world online. But one of the most effective ways to build a brand is also one that college students may not automatically think about: LinkedIn.

The platform is a very effective way for students to build their brand, showcase their skills, and network with potential employers, Kim Brown, director of strategic communications and digital engagement for SU’s Office of Alumni Engagement, told a group of students last week. She was the first speaker in a new series of ICE Box Talks being held in the School of Information Studies’ collaborative ICE Box space.

kim talk
Students hear Kim Brown at the iSchool’s First Fall ICEBox Talk

For context, Kim is an SU alumna (’06). She worked in SU’s Career Services Office from 2010 to 2015. In her new role, Kim manages the Syracuse University Alumni and Generation Orange Twitter accounts, among other social media platforms. She also gives frequent talks about connecting through LinkedIn both on campus and around the country in her SU alumni outreach. PS: She’s also an iSchool alumna, earning a graduate Certificate of Advanced Studies in Information Innovation/Social Media in 2012.

@kiimincuse on Twitter
@kimincuse on Twitter

The 8 Great Tips 

Here are Kim’s top suggestions for students who are looking to build their brand, boost their image, and create their online networking voice through the online social platform  LinkedIn, a resource Kim calls ‘‘Professional Central.”

1) Use the headline area directly below your name to do your branding.

Don’t simply bill yourself as ‘student at Syracuse University,’ Kim advises. “Say what you’re aspiring to do or talk about groups you’re involved in; you’re a lot more than just ‘student.’ You’ve got so much room–use that real estate to do your branding.

2) Fill out your Summary Section by thinking about the key words you would use to describe yourself. Importantly, “Always write your summary in the first person.”

3) Customize your personal profile url—rather than the long, non-descript url you get when you enroll, customize this to your name. “It’s amazing for personal branding,” Kim says, so share this url in your email signature, on your resume, and if you have business cards made. “Recruiters don’t care about your address” any longer, Kim notes, but if they see your LinkedIn url, it provides a richer, more detailed source of information that isn’t limited in length the way a resume is.

4) Focus on obtaining really good recommendations – vs. endorsements. “What other people have said about you is so important to your online brand, “Kim says. When asking others for recommendations, mention specific areas of performance, skills, or character you’d like them to address, too.

5) Delete the canned ‘I’d like to connect’… message! This note is automatically generated, but never use it, Kim emphasizes. Instead, “Always send a short, personalized connection request, noting how you met and why you’d like to connect. Do it for everybody – even friends.”

Making that point – image from @kimincuse’s Twitter stream

Don’t be afraid to project your personality into your online voice, even the more professionally–focused LinkedIn platform. “Your social platform voice should match who you are in real life,” Kim says. “Use what is your everyday voice; just be you, and be natural. Project how you’ll be a fit for the company or organization you’re interested in. Everybody knows you’re a human, and companies want to hire people they know will be a good fit.”

6) Use LinkedIn’s update-sharing feature–and ability to create posts—to stay connected. It’s a great way to get noticed and keep “talking to your network.” Both capabilities provide the chance to express an opinion or share your thoughts, and the potential that your comments could “really take off,” becoming really popular.

7) Access LinkedIn’s automatic resources and tools:

  • Student Jobs101 – a step-by-step tutorial and checklist that guides you through the steps in filling out your profile.
  • Alumni Connections Tool – (This link for the alumni network at SU–see the photo below).

    Screen shot via:
    Screen shot via:
  • Connections Export Tool – lets you export all your first-degree connections to an Excel File, where you can easily monitor, update, and connect with everyone in your primary network. (Or, you can just do the export function through LinkedIn.

8) Add Some #OrangePride

Students who are networking with SU alumni may want to add some SU pride to their profile, and Kim suggests the site: collage.syr.eduBy typing in the word “panorama,” SU Students, staff and faculty can access and use a range of SU campus scenes that will lend a distinctive and recognizable “Orange” look to their profiles.

Kim welcomes connecting with students and alumni, and says to reach her via her LinkedIn url:

There’s more information about making a great LinkedIn profile here.

Have you got some suggestions for making the most of your online image and brand? Please leave your comments here.



Diane Stirling

Diane is studying in the iSchool's information management master's program after completing her C.A.S. in social media in May '13. With an extensive background in news, public relations and marketing, she has been a communications specialist for the School since 2012 and serves as assistant editor for InfoSpace.

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