too many of the people respond to your invitation with “I don’t
know this person,” LinkedIn will flag or suspend your account for
Once your profile is complete and you’ve started building your network, it’s time to promote yourself. Status updates allow you to tell
your network what you’re doing— professionally, not personally.
Including links to interesting articles you’ve read recently or “just
demonstrated pH indicator for 500 elementary students” are good
things to post on LinkedIn. “Just had bacon for breakfast” is more
appropriate for Facebook. There is a checkbox that lets you automatically send your LinkedIn status update to your Twitter feed to
build your online presence another way.
If you link to your Facebook page, make sure your profile depicts
you as the type of employee a company would want to hire. Many
people prefer to separate their personal and professional networks
and to use privacy settings for personal accounts.
Commenting on other people’s status updates is another way
to add value. Set your preferences so you get a weekly e-mail telling
you what people have posted, and look for ways to share information relevant to what they’re doing, offer advice (when asked!), or
congratulate them on an accomplishment. By paying attention to
what others are doing, you not only learn about your field but you
also strengthen your professional relationships.
Join groups on topics that interest you — looking at what
groups your connections belong to is a great way to find new
groups. Once you join a group you can contribute to discussions,
browse job postings and the membership list, and more. You can
participate as much or as little as you want, but the more you participate the more you will build your network. Adding value to the
discussions demonstrates your expertise and enthusiasm for the
topic and gets you noticed by others who are also interested in that
topic (including hiring managers).
If you’re looking for ways to increase your professional online presence, consider contributing an entry to Reactions, the
blog for ACS student members everywhere ( www.acs.org/
undergradblog)! Send in an article idea or express your interest
in blogging to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While blogging can’t replace education and experience on
a résumé, it can contribute positively to the professional image
you convey. Before you post your first entry, here are a few hard-learned dos and don’ts for the beginning science blogger:
• Be yourself and write about what you know. It’s perfectly all right
to link your other interests to your work, as long as you do so
professionally. And intelligently linking, say, The Hunger Games
and chemistry demos can be informative and entertaining if
• Edit. Read through that post at least three times before you
• Respond intelligently to your commenters. Blogs enable
discourse, and intelligent discourse is a positive thing. Avoid
• Cite generously, and link to the source. Give credit to others for
their ideas and photos. Referring to multiple sources bolsters the
point you’re trying to make and forces you to read widely. Try to
limit your sources to news outlets and credible websites.
• Focus on professional topics. Avoid topics relating to religion,
politics, sex, or other controversial issues.
• Write short paragraphs ( 3–5 sentences) to make your point easy
to follow and fun to read.
• Use lots of interesting pictures.
• Focus on the experience you’re getting. Don’t focus on the
number of visitors your post brings. It’s just a number.
• Mistake opinion for fact.
• Write when angry or on topics that make you angry. This could
give the impression that you are negative or short-tempered.
• Give away your e-mail address or phone number or post photos
of your location or family.
• Respond to nasty comments. Delete them and then forget them.
Nasty commenters, or trolls, tend to frequent high-profile sites
and leave smaller blogs alone.
• Post anything personal; avoid blogging about boyfriends/
girlfriends, family, friends, enemies, frenemies, or drama of any
Care and cultivation of your network
While the tools may change over time, networking and managing
your professional connections will always be part of your professional life. Just like keeping up on the latest analytical methods,
you need to make sure your professional networking tools are up
Export your connections from LinkedIn on a regular basis. The
button at the bottom of the Contacts page allows you to download
contact info for all your connections, directly into the address book
on your computer. You can then add extra notes and other fields
that LinkedIn does not track. Having an additional backup ensures
you will not lose all the information, and that you always have
access to it.
Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. of Balbes Consultants LLC, is a technical writer/editor and author of Nontraditional Careers for Chemists: New Formulas for Chemistry Careers, published by Oxford University Press.
www.acs.org/undergrad • inChemistry