Top Tips for Building Your First LinkedIn Profile

January 25, 2019

With over 645 million users, LinkedIn is the web’s largest professional networking site and the best platform for building a professional, online brand. But as a student, you may be wondering, “Do I really need a LinkedIn profile?” Absolutely! Creating a LinkedIn profile now gives you a jumpstart on building your network, especially when it comes to connecting with professionals who are living your #careergoals. The sooner you start building a profile, the easier it will be to update it as you gain more experiences and accomplishments through jobs, internships, DECA and more.

To get your LinkedIn profile off to a successful start, check out these key tips:

Put Your Best Face Forward:

LinkedIn is the place to build your professional brand, so use a photo that reflects your best DECA-self. This is NOT the platform for heavy filters, artsy angles or party pics. Make it easy by having a friend or advisor snap a photo of you at your next DECA conference – DECA dress looks great on a LinkedIn profile!

Shine in Your Summary:

LinkedIn’s Summary section is often one of the first things someone visiting your profile will see – think of it as your personal “elevator pitch.” As a student, use it to highlight your past experiences, professional interests and your future career and education aspirations. And remember, this is all about you, so use a voice and style that feels authentic to you!

Work & Volunteer Experience:

LinkedIn profiles are all about showing your experience, and if you’re in DECA, you definitely have some to share! Use the Work Experience section to highlight your internships, after-school jobs or even work you’ve done with your school-based enterprise. Because you can upload videos and presentations to this section, consider adding a “role” as member of DECA to highlight your project work.

Then, head to the Volunteer Experience section to list any volunteer projects, events or steady volunteer work that you do to give back. Each of these sections allow you to write a description about your experiences – keep it short and focused on both what you contributed as well as what you learned from each experience. Think about DECA community service projects you’ve been a part of.

Show Off Your Skills:

The Skills section of your profile is the perfect place to do a little self-promotion, and LinkedIn makes it super easy! You can select from suggested skills based off of your profile or select from their list of skills across areas like Industry Knowledge, Tools & Technologies and Interpersonal Skills.

At a loss for what to add? Ask your advisor for ideas or add some of the skills DECA members know best: Public Speaking, Presentation Development, Leadership, Customer Service and Networking.

Add Your Accomplishments:

The Accomplishment section of LinkedIn was made for DECA members! This section lets you highlight Courses, Projects, Awards and more with detailed descriptions. Use this to list your business courses, any competitive events you’ve participated in, and, of course, any #DECAGlass you may have won.

Reach Out for Recommendations:

Recommendations are super valuable in building your LinkedIn profile – think of them as “word of mouth marketing” for yourself. To start growing your recommendations, send a professional LinkedIn message to your teachers, DECA advisors or other business professionals you have a direct relationship with to request their recommendation. Once you see what they’ve wrote, you may have some new ideas for more skills to add to your profile!

Keep It Updated:

Like your résumé, your LinkedIn profile should be constantly evolving, so don’t set-it-and-forget-it. Schedule a few times a year to update your summary and refresh Skills, Experiences and Accomplishments. Creating this habit now will help you keep it up-to-date along with your career, allowing you to always put your best profile forward.

Have you published your perfect profile yet? When you do, be sure to follow DECA’s LinkedIn page at


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Discussion Questions

  • 1
    What are three ways you could use a LinkedIn profile?
  • 2
    Who are three specific people you could ask for recommendations, and what are their roles?
  • 3
    Write your summary! In 3-5 sentences, develop your personal elevator pitch.
  • 4
    Do you think it is appropriate to post personal photos and posts to your LinkedIn profile? Why or why not?

Classroom Connection

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