Networking in optometry school is crucial to finding success in the real world after graduation. During school, you meet many amazing people in the small world of optometry. How do you keep in touch with them? How can they stay updated on your progress through school? LinkedIn is the top social networking destination focused on professional and business connections. LinkedIn profiles are virtual resumes that update your connections when you add something. By improving your LinkedIn profile, you can connect with possible future employers, mentors, and partners.
First of all, why should you create a LinkedIn profile? If a potential employer wanted to search for more information about you online, what would they search for? A good starting point would be “(your name) optometry.” For most optometry students who have not had a chance to cultivate their online presence, the first search result usually is their LinkedIn profile if he or she has one. Facebook profiles usually occur lower on the list, and most profiles are not available to the public. LinkedIn profiles are generally open for public viewing, so it represents a wonderful opportunity to cultivate your professional image that focuses on your optometry accomplishments and experience.
How can you improve your LinkedIn profile to attract and sustain your professional optometry network?
- Use a suitable photo. Before anyone reads a single word on your LinkedIn profile, most eyes shoot straight for your photo. Remember this is your professional profile for a future doctor of optometry. Let’s use a photo that reflects who you are as a professional. Your face should be well-lit, sharp, and your eyes look be looking at the camera. Business attire is highly recommended, and a white coat is a nice touch. Do not use any casual or party pictures because this is the first impression many doctors will associate with your name.
- Personalize the headline. The headline is the description under your name. After your name and photo, it is the next item people look at. Many students already have, “Optometry student at (School).” Use this opportunity to describe yourself and what your future goals are in a short-and-sweet style. An example could be, “Optometry Student Interested in Pediatric Vision Therapy.”
- Pack a punch in the summary. The summary section is like the cover letter that precedes your resume. Here you want to write a short paragraph or two that explains who you are and what your goals are. Be sure to tie it back to your headline for that knockout punch.
- Narrow your experience. Just like you would personalize a resume for a job interview, only put experiences that pertain to your headline and summary. For optometry students, any private practice jobs or leadership positions in school organization can go here. There are additional section for honors and awards. Don’t forget about languages because many potential employers are looking for multilingual optometrists.
- Connect with anyone you meet. Put your profile to work by connecting to your real-life connection through LinkedIn. Add that connection you made with an optometrist at a society meeting. If you’re curious in a few years about his or her practice, shoot them a message through LinkedIn. Once he opens the message, he can also click on your profile to quickly remind himself of who you are and why you’re amazing. This is more powerful than email because it reminds your connections of who you are when you reach out to them.
LinkedIn profiles are a powerful tool for cultivating your online professional image. Your profile may be the first thing someone finds when searching for you online. Additionally, it updates your connections on the LinkedIn network whenever you make an update. Use your improved LinkedIn profile to cultivate your optometry network into opportunities and meaningful connection after graduation.