LinkedIn recently announced an interesting extension to its services: As of September 12, the popular business-centric social network is open to high school students age 14 and older. With access to a myriad of professional resources, this is a great opportunity for the younger generation to develop a stronger drive to succeed. At the same time, LinkedIn now has a whole new audience to leverage for further profitability.
Expanding enrollment to this new demographic is a wise move for LinkedIn. Recruiters focused on university admissions and internships will flock in droves, likely to premium accounts, and the network will be actively building an engaged, excited user base ready and waiting to upgrade their account when they hit the “real world.” The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2012, LinkedIn’s college-age users more than doubled, a metric sure to carry over to its high school population.
Although parents may be hesitant to let their kids place their school, resume, and location on the web, LinkedIn has created a new set of security requirements specifically for minor users. When a high school student registers for a new account, LinkedIn will automatically set them up with heightened privacy settings, which include blocks from third-party tools and age-targeted advertising and priority attention for any complaints. With privacy concerns under control, parents and students can breathe easy and focus on taking advantage of LinkedIn’s benefits.
This opportunity will encourage kids to take a greater interest in the business world and hold themselves accountable for their future success. With the ability to investigate potential colleges through the recently added “University Pages” and connect with industry leaders in career areas of interest, students can gain a better understanding of the right career path or school for them, forge ties with mentors and professors, and network to discover internship opportunities, academic and activities groups, and more. Because LinkedIn is fully digital, an area widely embraced by “Generation Z,” teen users have access to a wealth of career and education information in a format they not just understand, but enjoy. And, although Gen Z-ers are frequently maligned for having poor professional awareness and communication skills, interacting with important influencers from an early age will help develop crucial social and business graces and reverse that unfortunate stereotype. It will be interesting to see how quickly this highly transparent population grasps said graces and separates the career world from the social world – selfies and group hangout pictures don’t exactly have a place on a professional network.
With a relatively visible LinkedIn profile, teen users will feel an increased involvement in their professional future and better grasp how to manage their personal brand and interact with people of all ages and career levels. If this catches on, we will soon have a group of graduates ready to enter the workforce as more capable communicators, producers, and innovators than ever before.
What do you think of the new LinkedIn concept? Would you have signed up as a kid? Will you encourage your kids to do so?