Hustle Smart: Get LinkedIn, Get Leveled Up

It’s no secret that we live in a media-dominated society – both traditional and online platforms.  Social media platforms have revolutionized the way we engage and communicate with each other, and the global visibility and user growth of these platforms should be attributed to the millennial generation. Consistently across the board when discussing the top social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube), a large portion of the demographic statistics show that millennials are the leading the pack in content consumption — but there’s a social media platform that we aren’t leading in that we should. That is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social media platform that is designed for the business community in mind. The main purpose is to connect career professional and interested parties in various fields, but it also serves as a platform for companies seeking exposure, clients, and employees. As of 2019, LinkedIn as accumulated nearly 600 million users globally with a large bulk coming from the United States.

This end goal of this article is to breakdown the disconnect between LinkedIn and the millennial generation, while also providing three points on why a consistent and well-developed LinkedIn profile is essential to your professional development and career success.

In a report reviewing LinkedIn’s demographic statistics released by Omnicore, it shows that LinkedIn is heavily dominated by 35+ age groups while millennials only make up 13% of the platform population. In figuring out exactly why millennials aren’t necessarily excited to create a LinkedIn account you have to approach this understanding that this is a multidimensional issue — many of us feel that it’s either too open with no privacy, not as socially entertaining as Twitter, or basically “too professional and structured”.

To give credit to our generation, the portion of us that do use LinkedIn are usually college students and recent graduates. However, there is still a large portion of millennials that identify as college students, recent graduates, and possibly even high school graduates that don’t take advantage of the opportunities that LinkedIn provide. So let’s now talking about the benefits of a well-developed LinkedIn profile.

# 1- Potential Power of LinkedIn

The stigma that LinkedIn is business-only is what hinders it from integrating fully embracing the entertainment aspect of media platforms but yet we see many entertainment-based platforms successfully integrating business and professional aspects into their algorithm. Recently circulating on various social media platforms, specifically Twitter, was a comedian that did News Reporter parody from the perspective of a guy from the hood. Mainly millennials on Twitter were demanding that someone hire him immediately for professional work based on how naturally talented, funny, and spot-on his imitation was. The social media team at BET (Black Entertainment Television) caught win of the comedian and agreed on Twitter, tweeting “someone hire him!” *Giving BET the side-eye.* Twitter users clapped back at BET, emphasizing that BET is, in fact, in a position to give him a job. That next weekend BET had him at the BET Social Awards. Now while there is no specific job I’m aware of that he may have now, I used this example as a proof that we have the power to create business opportunities for ourselves as well as expand platforms for talented individuals within the millennial community. Imagine if the media influence that black twitter possesses were also reflected on LinkedIn as well. If that same interaction with BET happened on LinkedIn, I am positive he would be connecting with media producers, news reporters, and actually a career professional that can provide a job opportunity. There is a huge opportunity in this media age to transform the face of LinkedIn and possibly increase millennial employment rates and create business leaders in the process.

# 2 – Network Creates Net Work – Who Do You Know?

If you wanted to create an opportunity right now within your career field, who would call that can help make that happen? If you have a few people in mind then you probably understand the benefits of networking and if not, have no fear because LinkedIn is here. Throughout our collegiate studies we often hear “get your foot in the door” with a specific company through networking or connecting with the decision makers. I ran across a LinkedIn Influencer while browsing through my timeline one day and realized, LinkedIn is the new business card.

With over 60 million users identifying as senior level influencers and 40 million being decision makers, LinkedIn is not just getting your foot in the door but getting in their face, in their circle, and on the radar. Millennials are known for our tendency to decline menial job for the sake of money. Instead, we want something that aligns with our purpose and our personal passion, and we want to work with people that inspire us to become better individuals and professionals. That being said, LinkedIn essentially can serve as a platform for media-savvy millennials to connect with professionals within their career fields that can aid in providing career opportunities, professional advice, as well as networking opportunities — this process of networking increases the chances millennials actually aligning themselves with a company that reflects their personal values.

# 3 Breaks The Barriers

Studies have shown that by the middle of this century the Black and Latino median wealth would hit zero. A major factor that contributes to this potential outcome is the racial discrimination people of color experience in hiring and professional settings in America. The reality is that no matter what level of education a POC attains, it doesn’t make us immune to discriminatory acts. As an African-American who can identify with people who have been racially targeted, LinkedIn has provided me an opportunity to allow people to read my book instead of just judging the cover. I can connect with professionals within my field to have discussions on developing insights in the field, career opportunities, or engaging in a healthy debate.

Personal Testimonial: LinkedIn To BET — Last year after graduating college, I applied for this pretty lucrative internship with a prominent political figure. I figured I might as well go for it. I put everything into my application and really emphasize who I am as accurately as possible. A month and several denial letters later, I found myself disappointed and defeated after finding out not only had I been overlooked for that specific internship, but all opportunities I had applied for rejected me. During that same time in a time of uncertainty, I found myself frantically scrolling through LinkedIn looking at jobs and just so happened to one day come across a posting from a senior executive of BET I was connected with. All it took was her ‘liking’ a LinkedIn post from another BET executive, and I found out about the opportunity and said, ‘why not?’. I applied to BET as a Public Relations Escort for the 2018 BET Awards, figuring it would be a great opportunity to get my foot in the door and absorb the invaluable experience. I received a call-back! After being convinced by my family and doing some self-reflecting I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. On the day of the show, I had the chance to work the red carpet and escort invited talent to various news outlets. The full circle moment hit when I look up and I’m escorting the same political figure who I didn’t get the internship with and we had a full conversation. I’m a firm believer in divine timing and perfect alignment, and that is what LinkedIn opened the door to, for me.

So in short, LinkedIn is your opportunity to level up. Millennials have grown up with social media, we know how to operate multiple platforms and often times multiple online personas effortlessly (e.g. “what I post on Twitter is for my friends, Facebook is for my family). That being said, use your instinctive personal branding skills to your advantage. Often times people have amazing stories but just will not tell it or don’t know how to — LinkedIn is your chance to bet on your unique perspective and stories. Countless times we’ve seen inspiring stories to go viral and open doors for people. What if the door to your career is dependent upon the story you haven’t told? What if your divine connection is tied to a person that doesn’t know you exist yet?

Written by Kyle Kidd

Kyle Kidd-Buckner is a 22-year-old Communication Strategist, Author, Political Operative, and Journalist — he has diverse communication skillset built on an extensive record of delivering diverse, fact-based, relevant media content through various digital media platforms and traditional media outlets; discussing topics ranging from lifestyle, tech, entertainment news to political issues. An alumnus of HBCU Jackson State University, he has served as an Author for HBCUBuzz, Collegiate Sports Editor of Black Beat Sports, and Associate Editor with stories also featured in Blavity, 7 Hues Magazine, Garvey Magazine, and DoerHouse LLC. Summer of 2018, He served as the Communications Fellow for Gubernatorial Democratic Candidate Andrew Gillum working closely on what would become a historic Governor’s campaign in Florida. Fun Fact: In college, he co-authored his first book, “Grown and Gone” a book created to assist high school seniors with their transition into their first independent year as a college student. Kyle lives by the life mantra, “I trust the next chapter because I know the Author…” and has performed at the BET Awards before.