By David Philip
You’ve probably heard horror stories about teachers who have posted content on social media, only to realize later that their joke or image offended the wrong person. Teachers have lost jobs and benefits because of social media mistakes and/or poor judgment. But there is a platform where educators can participate socially while safely engaging with others: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s culture is built around connecting professionals to make them more productive and successful. It’s not the type of social network where you post a picture of yourself on vacation, wearing a bathing suit or holding an alcoholic beverage. That’s for Facebook or Instagram (and what your union
may be telling you to avoid).
Think of LinkedIn as your online resume, plus more. It’s where you can connect with other educators, form and join groups, recommend others (and also receive recommendations) and continue to grow.
The LinkedIn Profile is the most important part of LinkedIn for any educator. Significant parts of your profile include:
- Your name
- A quality profile image
- A well-thought-out summary of who you are
- Your relevant experience
You’ll want to be specific about projects you’ve worked on, where you went to school, what awards you’ve won and what are your interests. Let’s focus on the parts of your profile that really matter the most: Your Profile Image is a semi-professional headshot. Most people base their first LinkedIn impression of you on your image, so do not upload a selfie. Do not upload a dark picture of you from the family reunion where you’re dressed nicely but we see part of your cropped-out cousin’s hand on your shoulder. Now, you could elect to do what lots of people do and not even include an image. Do not do this. No picture at all means you were too lazy to fill out your full profile (again, it may not be true but that’s the impression ever yone will get).
Do this: Stand up straight in front of a bare wall (you pick the color). Hand your phone to a friend (or that cousin). Smile and have three or five (or 15) photos taken (from the shoulders up, please). Pick the best one and use that as your Profile Image.
You can feel comfortable using your real name on LinkedIn. Unlike Facebook, where teachers have used “combination” names to shield them from nosy parents or students, your public LinkedIn profile is connected to all the great things you’ve done as a teacher. You can include links to your school’s website or ar ticles you’ve written, pictures of you winning any awards, information on any causes for which you volunteer and more.
If you want, you can post updates that interest you as they relate to your profession. Maybe you just read a compelling article about revamping the pension system in New Jersey. You can post the ar ticle and your personal comments. Others on LinkedIn can give your post the thumbs up (or thumbs down) and make their own comments.
You can also join groups, or create your own, that cover your interests. If you type in “NJ Teachers” in the search field, you’ll see 20 different groups. Join one and discuss topics that matter to you and the group. Or simply read what others are saying.
Your use of LinkedIn doesn’t have to stop there. If you post content, are proactive when it comes to connecting with others in your field, actively contribute to groups and recommend others whom you know, your profile will become a valuable resource.
Your LinkedIn presence is all about you and your career as a teacher, so the chances of you crossing the line and posting inappropriate content are significantly decreased. If you want to be social and safe, LinkedIn is a good place to start.
David Philp is Assistant Professor of Music Management & Pop Music at
William Paterson University. He teaches graduate and undergraduate students
about how to optimize their social media profiles and not fear the
results. Dave is also the co-host of the weekly Music Biz 101 & More radio
show on WPSC: Brave New Radio.