Just a few years ago, social media was the playground of the internet. But today, social media is so prevalent in our daily lives that it has become the main tool for many education professionals to network, connect, and communicate.
LinkedIn is a particularly useful tool for superintendents who want to stay connected with former, current, and potential future colleagues, as well as network with other professionals in the field and stay up-to-date on current topics and issues.
You can use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals in your district and other districts, business partners, community leaders, involved parents, and educators you meet at conferences. Their profiles may be a window into the topics and issues they care most about, as well as their areas of expertise, which can lead to further conversations and partnerships.
Connect with the LinkedIn pages for any professional organizations of interest to help you stay informed of the latest educational news and trends, as well membership information, and conference news. Also search for superintendent or education administrator groups, which can be a great place for on-going dialogue with others in the field.
Here are a couple of suggested groups to get you started:
- AASA — The School Superintendents Association Group. With more than 21,000 members, this group bills itself as, “a vehicle for school system leaders to connect with each other.”
- School Superintendents Group. This group has nearly 9,400 members and aims to be a place for superintendents to collaborate and discuss the issues of the day.
- The National Education Association Group. This group brings more than 14,100 education employees of all levels and positions together in one place.
Trying to fill a key position within your district? Be proactive and search LinkedIn for your ideal candidates. Furthermore, if you already have a list of qualified candidates who have applied, visit their LinkedIn pages for a deeper look at their experience, communication style and skill level.
When — and What — to Share
First and foremost, you should use LinkedIn to showcase your own experience, skills, organization or volunteer involvement and any honors or awards you’ve earned during your years in the education field. LinkedIn is so much more than just an online resume; you can go much more in-depth with recommendations from former or current colleagues and visual portfolios of your work.
You can also use LinkedIn to share the story of your district. Using the “Share an Update” function, send out announcements, links to news articles about your schools or feature stories from your own website.
Use LinkedIn to lead the conversation. You can post your own thought leadership columns or blog posts directly to your LinkedIn profile as a way to position yourself as a leader or innovator on the topics you are most passionate about, as well as to start a dialogue and encourage feedback and collaboration.
Consider creating a company LinkedIn page for your district to provide basic demographics and informational updates, such as open positions for which you are hiring or important upcoming events.
The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of LinkedIn for Superintendents
Do: Get Visual
Make your profile shine with some visual elements that show you working directly with students, speaking at conferences or attending school events. Post photos with each job or position you’ve held to take your profile from bland to personalized. (See how Deputy Superintendent Bill Glass of Danbury Public Schools in Connecticut does it.)
Don’t: Be Generic
Even if the tools make it easy, avoid connecting with people in an impersonal way. Generic messages to your connections will not show you have a genuine interest in long-term networking and collaboration. If you want to strike up a conversation with a professional contact on LinkedIn, check out the person’s profile first and see what interests, skills, or experience you have in common so you can best personalize your message.
Do: Get Involved
Interact with the news, stories, and links posted by connections in your feed to strike up a conversation, get informed, and stay visible. You never know who might notice.
Don’t: Make it Personal
This isn’t Facebook, so pictures of your own children or jokes you might tell to friends and family aren’t appropriate in this space. It’s ok to show some personality, but keep that personality on the same professional level you would use in the district office.
Use the summary section at the top of your profile to provide a brief (2-3 sentence) overview of your career and your individual interests and skills. Think of the summary as a way to introduce yourself to your new connections.
What other tips and tricks have you learned for using LinkedIn as an educational leader? Are there any groups that you love? Share them in the comments.
Looking for more social media info for superintendents? Check out the Superintendent's Guide to Twitter!