By Shannon Clark\r\nThere’s a lot of confusion relating to LinkedIn. Some people see it as a social media network, like Facebook, while others view it as a job board. Both assumptions are correct to a certain extent but, unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is more geared towards professionals and unlike most job boards, LinkedIn does more than just allow you to search for openings.\r\nIn our opinion, LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for students but to help convince you, here are the top five reasons why every student should be on LinkedIn:\r\nTo build a strong network of professional contacts\r\nGetting ahead in any career is as much about who you know, as it is about what you know. Start by connecting with your peers and your university lecturers, then branch out into the industry that you want to work in. You never know when a connection will come in handy and the bigger your network, the more chance you have of being referred to a job role.\r\nTo get job alerts\r\nWhile LinkedIn is about much more than just searching for jobs, it is still incredibly useful when it comes to finding your next position – which makes LinkedIn particularly useful for students. You can program LinkedIn to send you job alerts for certain companies, industries or specific job titles, so that you’ll never miss out on a great opportunity again.\r\nLet the companies find you\r\nThese days, when you apply for a job, your prospective employer will no doubt conduct an internet search into you. Students often get a bad rap over their social media presence, so by having a LinkedIn account as a student, you can show an entirely different (and more professional!) side to yourself. Having a LinkedIn account allow companies to find you with ease and, most importantly, to find the information that you want them to find.\r\nPrepare for interviews\r\nInterviews are always nerve-wracking but by having an account on LinkedIn, you can conduct your own research into the company, and the employer, so that you can go into your interview feeling as prepared as possible.\r\nTo prove your dedication\r\nHaving a LinkedIn account as a student proves that you are dedicated to pursuing a career. By being specific in your summary and connecting with people in the field that you’d like to end up in, you prove that you’re putting in the time and effort required to succeed in your chosen career.\r\nTips for creating a LinkedIn profile as a student:\r\n\r\nUse a professional profile picture.\r\nJoin groups and follow companies that you share an interest in.\r\nDon’t forget to complete your profile! Use it as an extended CV and include as much information as you can to prove to employers that you are a well-rounded individual with a multitude of skills that you could put to good use in the workplace.\r\nJoin LinkedIn in your first year of university so that you can show a progression across your three years of studying.\r\nBegin building up a strong network as soon as you have completed your profile. Don’t just leave your account sitting dormant, make the most of it and start building those all-important connections!\r\n\r\nShannon Clark writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs. You can find more of her work at www.shannonlclark.com and www.sweetserendipityblog.co.uk.