LinkedIn 101 for Teachers

If you knew of a social media brand that catered to professionals who were looking to grow their career and that had over 300 million members, you’d be interested right? What if that same brand was growing by two new members every second of every day? The brand, of course, is LinkedIn, the world’s largest online community of professionals.

While LinkedIn’s members originally tended to be those in the business world, today the social media power player boasts a wide array of professions, including educators. In fact, LinkedIn has a lot to offer both teachers and administrators. Below are some easy ways to use LinkedIn to grow your career.

Create a complete profile. There is no sense in dipping your toe in the ocean that is LinkedIn; you need to jump in with both feet to get the most out of the experience. Be sure to fill out everything in the profile section. List all of your relevant teaching jobs. Limit the details under each job to a couple of key accomplishments. List colleges, seminars and any other professional development activities you have had. And don’t forget to smile. No one wants to see a mug shot profile photo.

Network using groups. Once you have a profile, it is time to explore one of the best ways to take advantage of LinkedIn’s vast member base and join some groups. There are numerous teaching related groups, from the National Science Teachers Association to the National Association for Music Education — and just about everything in between. Setting up new groups is straightforward as well.

Share what you know. Most teachers have a treasure trove of tips, tricks and strategies to help students learn and grow. Whether you post a simple status update or a link to a great resource, LinkedIn allows teachers to have a voice in the larger educational community. You can share what you know and help others while you grow your own social capital at the same time.

Keep up to date on industry news. Common Core, Race to the Top, Education Reform. The topics teachers need to keep abreast of are continually evolving. Take the stress out of trying to keep up by using LinkedIn as your one-stop shop for the latest educational policies. Follow LinkedIn’s education channel and you’ll have all the important developments in education right at your fingertips. Not only will this help you in your current position, but it will also be vital if and when you need to look for a new position in a new district.

Follow your target district. Speaking of school districts, many districts now have accounts on LinkedIn and keep them updated with a variety of district related news and information, including job openings. If you are looking for a new position, start following some of your target districts early. Not only will you get early notice on job postings, but you may also have the chance to network with the school’s administration beforehand.

Stay connected to former colleagues. Inevitably, teachers move, change jobs and switch disciplines. But just because they no longer teach down the hall doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. While LinkedIn should not be mistaken for Facebook, it can be a way to stay professionally connected to colleagues you no longer work with. Having a ready-made connection also makes asking for a recommendation down the road a much easier task.

Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of dismissing LinkedIn as something only for people who are looking for a new job. The best time to build your LinkedIn profile, connect with people and participate on LinkedIn is now, before you need it. So jump in and get your feet wet today!

Steve P. Brady is a teacher and educational career consultant specializing in resumes for teachers.