From sponsored posts to tradeshow social media strategies, we’ve been covering LinkedIn quite a bit this week, which only goes to show that the platform has grown exponentially in its marketing and networking applications. This month, LinkedIn announced yet another addition that is bound to change the platform; it is now letting younger people – some of whom are only 12 years old – create profiles. Some people find this a surprising move. After all, LinkedIn is the premiere professional social network, focused on business connections. What are the kids going to do there?
Get A Smart Start
According to LinkedIn, the primary purpose of letting younger people onto their platform is to give them access to the University Pages feature. University Pages are, as the name implies, pages operated by colleges, universities, and other institutes of higher learning. These pages allow users to learn about a school, and also connect undergraduates with alumni – a hugely valuable networking asset.
Giving Students a Chance
It’s tough to be a student right now. The job market is pretty bleak, and many, many employers don’t think very highly of recent graduates. This generation in particular has been labeled as lazy and entitled – and I’m not sure that’s necessarily fair.
While there are certainly some individuals in the current crop of high school students who you wouldn’t want to ever hire, there are other young people out there who have the skills, knowledge, and especially drive that could change your company for the better. Some students are extremely ambitious. I started the Technology Therapy Group when I was a junior in college – and I was hardly the only student entrepreneur in my class!
One of the tough facts of life is that not everyone in this world has equal access to educational opportunities and resources. Even basic information isn’t always there. In economically depressed regions, high school guidance offices are hardly equipped to help promising students connect with the best school for them. These kids are left to their own devices.
Personally, I applaud LinkedIn for stepping up and leveling the playing field a little bit. Their decision to open up LinkedIn to younger students will make a positive difference – and not just for the students!
Young people who proactively use social media to explore and connect with higher education are learning skills that will serve them their whole life. Demonstrating initiative, research skills, and effective communication – I know these are traits I value and look for in a new employee.
In just a handful of years, these students will be looking for work. Personally, I’ll give preference to those kids who took advantage of the chance to get a smart start in a social world. What about you?