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How to Master LinkedIn and Get a Career featuring Chris Coken ’02

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Campus News by Julianne Mosher
While Facebook and Twitter are great social networking tools, LinkedIn is what professionals are saying will help students make strides in the long run professionally.

“There’s more employment opportunities on LinkedIn,” said Siobhan Becker, a sophomore at Stony Brook University.

Becker, a journalism major, used the website to help connect with old teachers, professors, friends, peers and professionals in the field to help her circle of networks grow. In doing this, she was able to land an internship because her profile was so strong.

“The current company I intern for requested permission to check out my LinkedIn page before we had a phone call,” she said. “It’s an important channel to take advantage of when you are applying for a company.”

But what exactly is LinkedIn and how can it benefit us as we grow as professionals?

Chris Croken, corporate relationship manager for Bethpage Federal Credit Union, started off at Suffolk County Community College and then moved on to further his degree at Farmingdale State University.

As a leader in one of the Northeast’s largest businesses, he said that starting off at community college steered him off into the right direction eventually leading him to where he is today – managing corporate and labor union relationships for dozens of employees and organizing educational seminars for the credit union’s workers and members.

“My experiences at Suffolk County Community College have provided me the foundation to learn from students and professors who are within the academic, professional and corporate worlds,” he said.

“Having a degree in art and design at SCCC also has lead to a marketing degree at Farmingdale State College, enhancing a creative mindset on the importance of networking with people to add value to what we take from college,” he added.

Croken shared with Community College Campus News his professional advice regarding how he uses LinkedIn and why students who have not started a profile on the site should in order to start networking.

“Employers like us, plus recruiters, are looking at you for potential opportunity for collaboration or to be new, fresh talent in the organization,” he said. “Usually people who apply for positions at many companies are Googled to see what info populates.

“Some ideas you may apply to your profile or you may have shared connections that can speak to your character to assist creating an introduction to someone you would like to connect with,” he added. That leads to the notion that students should start to take advantage of LinkedIn by finding other students with similar talents and goals.

“The use of LinkedIn with face-to-face networking has led me to great success for myself, my family and the people around me,” he said. “[It] is a very efficient and powerful way to tap into a network that will improve your stock, brand, career path and life! The student in your Biology class could be working at your dream company five years from now.”

LinkedIn is not like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The website, which has over 300 million users, is a professional tool people use to publish their resume’s, contact information, experience and ultimately, to network.

Some students may be afraid to begin using the website, nervous to create a profile with little-to-no information. However, Croken believes that a student with a small resume – even with only one internship under his or her belt – can create a page.

“Even a student who interns can market themselves in a professional forum to position their next move,” he said.

Croken believes that starting off on LinkedIn can benefit students just by surrounding themselves with a circle of professionals.

“If a student has a dream company or an organization of interest, seek out decisionmakers who work there, connect with them then, plant the seed for a conversation around an idea.”

He added, “Ideally you want the tool of LinkedIn to get you in front of the right people who you can leave an impression with. Get to know people who can help guide you to your next career opportunity.”

However, even professionals who have been out of school may not be fully on board with LinkedIn, even though they know they should be.

Nesha Christian-Hendrickson is an assistant territorial public defender who is also a professional in the real world.

She said that she rarely uses LinkedIn – since she made her profile while she was at her current job – but she thinks that the website can definitely be helpful in her future.

“I do think it will help with my next pursuit,” she said.

“I think it will help to broaden my scope,” she added. “Living in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, you are limited to on site employers. LinkedIn would help me connect with employers across the continental U.S. or abroad.”

Christian-Hendrickson also noted that one of her friends was headhunted based on his LinkedIn profile.
When used correctly, Croken said, Linkedin can be a very powerful tool.

For students, Croken gave five recommendations that can help students who are wary of joining the professional networking site along with insight to those who are on but do not know what to do next.

He listed:

  1. “Use a professional profile picture that the professional world would like to see.
  2. “Every person you meet on campus or every business card you receive – look them up and connect.
  3. “Show your value with a detailed profile including accomplishments and schooling.
  4. “Be honest — make sure everything you display to the world is accurate
  5. “Proofread your profile. This is the first snapshot of how people may see you! Is it clean, polished and does it showcase why people should connect with you?”

Following these five simple steps can create a better profile and give serious students the opportunity to shine at a professional level.

Source: Campus News, College Paper

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