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Online Networking


What is LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the top online professional networking site.  It allows you to connect globally with other professionals, join groups, share ideas and information, follow companies, and search for jobs. It also helps others seeking talent to find you

Create an account

Create an account at, and set up your profile to communicate your professional brand and expertise.

Your LinkedIn headline is important as it is the only customizable information people will immediately see in search results and group discussions.  Consider the needs of your target employers and the skills, experiences, and strengths you want to highlight.

Your summary should answer the question, “Tell me about yourself.”  Think about big-picture skills and accomplishments that showcase your expertise in your field, or highlight experience you are gaining to become an expert.

Connect with your network

Once your profile is complete, start connecting with people you already know through work, associations, friends, and family.  Your immediate network is your 1st degree connections, and their connections become your 2nd and 3rd degree connections.  This circle continues to grow as you connect with new people, and it will assist in uncovering new opportunities.

Join groups

Join relevant LinkedIn groups to expand your network, gain subject matter insight, and post articles or comments to showcase your expertise.  Walden University Career Planning and Development has a LinkedIn group you can join to stay current on upcoming Career Planning and Development webinars, read career articles, and pose questions related to career management.

We also recommend you join groups in your

  • desired career field
  • Walden degree program
  • professional association(s)
  • alumni group(s)

For additional ideas, identify a mentor or professional in your field and review their LinkedIn profile.  Look at the groups they are participating in and decide if they would be beneficial to you.  

The Ultimate LinkedIn Cheat Sheet!

Learn about the importance of your LinkedIn photo


Where can I Join the Career Planning and Development LinkedIn Group?

Become part of our growing community by joining the Walden University Career Planning and Development LinkedIn group. Our group connects Walden students and alumni for professional networking and sharing career information.  Identify your Walden University degree program on your LinkedIn profile as you make your request to join.


Comment on blog posts or start a blog of your own to showcase areas of expertise.  This can also strengthen your brand and increase visibility to your network.

Wordpress and Blogger are commonly used no-cost blog sites.  Read how to get started with Blogger, or get started with WordPress by watching these WordPress videos.

A few blogging tips:

  • Set a goal and know your audience.
  • Have a schedule for when and how often you will post.
  • Set a professional tone; you are showcasing your thoughts, as well as enhancing your brand.
  • Demonstrate strong writing skills by carefully proofreading your post.
  • Include a link to your blog on your business card and/or e-mail signature to increase visibility.

To use Twitter for your brand, networking, and job search, create a professional profile and name.  Next, take time to learn how Twitter can work for you.  There are many ways to be active; however, remember who you follow, what you post, and how you present yourself become public and a part of your professional identity.

Be active on Twitter with these tips:

  • Tweet.  These 140-character posts can demonstrate your expertise to your followers.
  • Retweet (RT).  If you like something another professional tweeted, re-tweet it.
  • Reply to a tweet. This is a quick way to showcase your opinion and expertise.
  • Follow industry experts.  Staying up to date on their tweets is a great way to know what is going on in your industry.
  • @ mention industry experts.  These are public messages mentioning a specific recipient. Post with an @ mention thanking someone for their time, or congratulating them on an achievement.
  • Follow organizations. This will provide you with insider information beneficial in a job search.
  • Direct message (DM).  Send a private message to a recipient, such as a hiring manager.
  • # hashtag your topic.  Use a hashtag as a virtual filing cabinet, grouping your tweet into a searchable category.
  • Favorite a tweet. This acts as a bookmark so you can visit the tweet later.

Follow these resources on Twitter:

  • recruiters
  • staffing managers
  • potential coworkers (industry experts)
  • organizations
  • career experts
  • professional associations
  • publications

Facebook can be used for your professional brand, network, and job search.  Like with any social media site, you decide how to best use Facebook for your needs.  Keep in mind that your activity on Facebook (e.g., who you follow, what you post) becomes a part of your professional identity.  Some Facebook users establish a professional profile or page in addition to their personal profile. This allows a balance between social media “fun” and professional networking and job searching. 

Below are some tips to get you started using Facebook for job searching and networking.  If you choose to apply these tips, remember that they will become visible to your “friends.”  Keep this in mind if, for instance, you are connected with your current boss or coworkers and start “liking” job search pages. 

Brand yourself on Facebook with these tips:

  • Have a professional profile and profile picture.
  • Check your profile privacy settings to know who has access.
  • Start a group or page showcasing your expertise.
  • Comment on posts to gain recognition.

Expand your network on Facebook with these tips:

  • “Like” organization pages.
  • Identify a recruiter or industry expert and see if you are connected through friends of friends. 

Job search on Facebook with these tips:

  • Update your status to reflect what you are seeking.
  • Use job search apps.
  • “Like” job site pages.
  • Join job search groups.

Communicate Your Brand


Your brand captures what strengths, experiences, and attributes make you stand out from a crowd.  Once you identify your brand, convey it consistently across multiple venues, such as in conversation, on your resume, during formal and informal interviews, in a professional bio, or on your LinkedIn profile.

Branding Statements:

Develop a short branding statement to help others quickly understand what you do, why you do it, and what makes you stand out from others in your field.  A branding statement should be 1-2 sentences and entice others to want to know more about you. Below are a few examples:

“I troubleshoot online orders and technologies to create a positive and memorable customer service experience.”

“I work to make healthcare systems accessible and inclusive for all individuals by fostering interdepartmental collaborations.”

“I coach and inspire emerging leaders on how to help their organizations adapt to rapidly changing environments.”

“I use quantitative and qualitative research skills to design engagement surveys for nonprofit organizations.”


Highlight your unique brand in the Summary of Qualifications section of your resume. Align relevant aspects of your brand with the specific position you are targeting to convey how you can add value to employers.  Below are a few examples:

“Collaborative and forward-thinking healthcare professional with fourteen years’ progressive experience in the nonprofit healthcare industry.”

“Efficient quality improvement leader and MBA student with 3+ years of call center experience in financial products.”

“Social services professional and instructor with experience in crisis intervention, case management, advocacy, life skills training, and adult learning."

Visit the Resumes & More tab to learn how to create a strong Summary of Qualifications section and view 40+ resume samples on the Custom Samples page for ideas.


Formal and Informal Interviews:

Practice communicating your unique brand during formal and informal interviews to strengthen professional connections and bring your best self forward.  Knowing your strengths and how you can add value to others can help you answer the types of questions below with greater clarity and confidence.

Tell me about yourself.

What are your strengths?

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Visit the Interviews tab for additional interviewing tips and resources.


Professional Bios:

Communicate your brand by writing a short bio that summarizes your greatest academic, professional, and community skills and accomplishments.  Below are a few tips for writing a bio:

  1. Start with your name and write your bio in third person.
  2. Include your current position or role (if you are employed).
  3. Share several major professional, academic, and community achievements that your audience would find interesting.
  4. Give your bio a personal touch – what are you most passionate about? Again, your bio should reflect the unique aspects of your brand.


LinkedIn Profiles:

Share your unique brand on your LinkedIn profile.  Create a Header that includes your main areas of expertise or professional roles, then develop a strong About section by expanding upon your greatest skills and strengths.  Refer to the Networking tab for additional LinkedIn resources.

Elevator Pitches

Prepare a 30-second pitch, the approximate length of time you would ride on an elevator with someone, to convey who you are, what you are doing professionally, and where you are headed.  Practice your pitch to deliver a confident, natural introduction.

The goal of your elevator pitch is to lay the groundwork for an interactive, mutually beneficial conversation with your new contact by building on common interests and goals.  As you both share your backgrounds, you may decide to schedule a follow-up conversation, so be sure to exchange contact information. 

Sample elevator pitches:

"I'm pursuing my Ed.D, which complements my 10 years of teaching experience with the goal of moving into administration.  I am researching whether increased computer usage affects elementary students' participation in extracurricular activities.  In other words, is Facebook taking kids off the soccer field?"

"As a Master's in Nursing student at Walden University, I am working toward becoming a family nurse practitioner.  Before going back to school, I worked as an RN on an Orthopedic Surgery Floor at XYZ Hospital, providing pre and post-surgical care.  My passion for individualized healthcare, especially for underserved populations, drives my interest in cost-effective healthcare solutions."

"As an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling student at Walden University, I am working toward becoming a licensed counselor.  Before going back to school, I worked as a mental health worker at a halfway house for mentally ill and chemically dependent adults. My passion for improving the lives of people with mental illness, especially in underserved populations, drives my interest in becoming a counselor."

Academic Signatures

Follow these guidelines on how to list academic credentials in your signature.

Before You Graduate

When creating an academic e-mail signature block for Walden University, as well as for most professional correspondence, you should only use the academic credential that you have earned after your name. You should not use amended forms of a degree (e.g., PhD-C or PhD(c)) to indicate partial completion of your program, nor should you use ABD (all-but-dissertation). None of these designations are accepted credentials, and using them may confuse others, including prospective employers. These amended forms are not recognized by Walden University either.

While a doctoral student, you can use any other academic credential you have already earned (including a first doctoral degree, if applicable). For e-mail originating from your Walden account, you should include a designation of your status in the academic program in the signature block on the second line (e.g., doctoral student or doctoral candidate). You should not include any references to other positions you hold outside of the university.

Chris C. Cumberbatch, MSW
Student, PhD in Social Work
Walden University

When you qualify, you should refer to yourself as a "doctoral candidate" in correspondence, instead of being ABD. Candidacy status says that you are an active, advanced student, pursuing the last part of your doctoral degree. ABD is not an actual degree nor is it a credential; it is often used informally by individuals who did not complete their degree after they have stopped being a student. All amended forms of the doctoral degree credential, indicating partial attainment, should be avoided in your signature, as well. The intention to complete and progress toward a degree are different than actually completing one.

Mary Jane Smith, MBA
Doctoral Candidate, Doctor of Business Administration
Walden University

Definition of Doctoral Candidacy

The status of “doctoral candidate” is defined as an advanced graduate student who has demonstrated mastery of the knowledge of an academic domain or discipline and a readiness to embark on the capstone project.

A Walden University student is considered a doctoral candidate when the following expectations, as prescribed in the Program of Study, have been completed.

  • Academic Coursework
  • Core Research Courses
  • Academic Residencies (except Residency 4 for PhD students)
  • Prospectus, approved by the Academic Program Director or designee following successful rubric examination, and on record with the Office of Student Research Administration
  • Other specific requirements stipulated by the academic program

Read more about Doctoral Candidacy in the Student Catalog.

After You Graduate

Upon conferral of your degree, however, you should begin using that new credential on your academic and/or professional correspondence, directly after your name. Also, in most situations, you need only list your highest credential, based on an assumption that you also have the degrees leading up to it. You do not need to spell it out, nor do you need to include your academic specialization. No need to include periods in the abbreviation either.  

Joseph J. Johnson, PhD

It is advisable for you to double check the standard in your profession/discipline for the use of “Dr.” as a designation in your e-mail signature. In only a few professional areas is it considered acceptable to use both “Dr.” and your doctoral degree. The preferred convention is to include the degree abbreviation at the end to indicate to everyone that you hold a doctoral degree, and to use Dr. as you would use Mr. or Ms.

An e-mail signature should not be a replacement for your resumé or curriculum vitae, but in some professional contexts, you may choose to include a relevant license or professional credential after your doctoral degree (e.g., LPC, RN). Again, restraint is usually warranted. Even though you have earned them, including an entire alphabet of letters after your name may communicate a level of egocentrism that is not congruent with your intention.

In summary, there are two general rules for academic/professional communications, which includes e-mail signature blocks: (1) only include the degree and credentials that you have earned, and (2) when in doubt about what to include, less is generally more. Specific contexts outside of Walden University may require a different strategy, however, so try to model your signature on professionals at the same level of training in that context.    

Networking Overview

Why is Networking Important?
  • Approximately 80% of jobs are in the non-advertised "hidden job market."
  • Employers are more likely to interview someone whose work and reputation they know, either directly or indirectly.
  • You learn about career opportunities, work environments, best practices, hot topics and challenges, and key players in your career field.
  • You can showcase information, accomplishments, passions, and skills that might not arise in an interview.
  • You strengthen your professional reputation or "brand."
Building Your Network

Start by taking an inventory of people you already know, as they might be important contacts or know others who can benefit you.  Reach out to professionals in your field, students, colleagues, supervisors, friends, and family via e-mail, phone, or LinkedIn to ask for advice and let them know what you are seeking. 

Networking contacts:

  • Alumni organizations (including the Walden University Alumni Association)
  • Student organizations (including Walden University Student Organizations)
  • Participants at conferences, seminars, or workshops
  • Professional associations
  • Volunteer service organizations
  • Walden faculty, students, staff
  • Former workplace contacts
  • Classes
  • Friends
  • Relatives
  • Clubs, such as hobby groups or fitness facilities 
  • Military colleagues
  • Neighbors
  • Political groups
  • Service professionals: attorneys, accountants, doctors, dentists, insurance agents, pharmacists, realtors, travel agents, veterinarians
  • Children's contacts: PTA, Little League, Scouts, parents of their friends
  • Faith-based communities

Networking platforms:

Networking Tips
  1. Develop your brand.  Think about what makes you stand out in your current or desired career field.
  2. Clean up your online image.  Conduct a simple internet search of your name to see what is currently out there.  Remember, if people can find it, it is a part of your brand.
  3. Build relationships offline.  Professional associations, volunteering, and connecting with your community will quickly expand your network.
  4. Build relationships online.  Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs are great social media tools to showcase expertise and expand your network.
  5. Tailor your LinkedIn profile. Complete your profile to 100% and tailor your headline and summary.
  6. Target your efforts.  Take time to set networking goals and reflect upon your progress.
  7. Share your passion.  When you meet someone new, it is your opportunity to share your passion toward your field.
  8. Show gratitude.  Send a thank-you note when a professional goes out of his or her way to meet with you.
  9. Follow up.  Set a date when you will follow up with people in your network to maintain your relationships.
  10. Give back to your network. Once you have established your network, pay it forward and be a mentor for others!

Take your Networking Efforts Offline

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