Let me make a quick introduction – I am the new Academic Program Officer for Professional Development at Rackham (you can call me Paula). When I am asked what is the most powerful thing you can do to be an effective professional, I hear a voice say (it’s usually mine), “Hey, engage in a professional community.”
Since we all have a lot to do, let’s start this engagement by doing something concrete and social media friendly via LinkedIn. Just take my 2 item questionnaire to gauge your next steps:
I would describe my current activity on LinkedIn in the following way:
- I have an active LinkedIn account.
- I have an account but forgot my password. It’s bicyclelollipop2, or something.
- I could be persuaded to open one with food or cash.
- Come on. I am a research scholar not a salesperson.
- I loathe to think of this. It makes my stomach lurch. I am embarrassed to be reading this.
I would rate my interest in joining a Group in LinkedIn in the following way:
- I belong to several and participate regularly.
- I joined one, but it seems needy and anti-intellectual, so I don’t participate. I lurk.
- You can join a group on LinkedIn?
- I’m not a joiner. That’s not done in my department.
- Still loathing and feeling generally nauseated, but now I am embarrassed for you.
Make Your Connection
If you linger at the 4/5 mark, and you want to take your connection to the next level, take 15 minutes today and do the following (Grab a coffee, give it a try. Why not?):
- Invite 7-10 people to join your LinkedIn Network. This is easy and will increase your connections exponentially (think Kevin Bacon). LinkedIn bakes in easy ways to find connections. Just select the “People you may know” option on the right hand side of your profile. Remember, there are more than 175 million live people connected to LinkedIn.
- Join 2 groups of professional interest to you. Search by interest and request to join. By joining a group you are instantly group linked to all its members, which gives you the ability to get deeper into a more focused professional network. Here are some quick facts: There are 1290 Ph.D.-related professional LinkedIn groups you can join. The Michigan alumni group has 47,374 members and is the largest U-M alumni social-media based professional group outside of U-M’s InCircle.
- Comment on or start one conversation in a group. The LinkedIn blog has a spot-on tutorial on how to enhance your group engagement through discussions.
It is important to engage in professional communities, not to schmooze or self-promote. You engage to help yourself career define, clarify and connect to real professional opportunities. Maybe it is LinkedIn or maybe it is a professional association or your own department, but engaging in a professional community is an important part of being a successful graduate student. I’ll be back with more on this in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, if you have an idea on how to enhance the professional development of graduate students, send me an e-mail.
About the Author
Paula D. Wishart, Professional Development, Rackham Graduate School
Published in: Professional Development