Isn’t time to have an earnest conversation with your college student on using LinkedIn as a networking tool???

When my son moved back to his college dorms several years ago, I saw one fellow father drive up into the parking lot with a 19-foot U-Haul truck. Somehow, he squeezed this vehicle into a crowded parking lot where other parents had packed their trucks and cars with their children’s clothes, computers and other necessities.

Move in day in college dorms requires a combination of patience but it also provides a chance to observe future teachers, business executives and creative types. On our first trip to my son’s dorm room, the other parents and I allowed the father with the U-Haul truck to squeeze his cart with four boxes, marked with items such as makeup and sweaters into our shared elevator.

In the course of researching a forthcoming book on how college students can use LinkedIn, I have talked with parents about if they have taken the time to discuss their career aspirations with their children. I asked the father with a U-Haul truck what his daughter was planning to study, and he said he didn’t know. Nor, did he think his daughter had any definite ideas of what she would do after completing her studies.

That encounter several years ago served as the inspiration for starting this book. If a parent would take the time to rent a 19-foot truck to move his daughter into a dorm room the size of a small monastery cell, would he not want to also help her find the path towards a career that helped her get her a job that allows her to pursue a profession that will provide for their first apartment rent and car payments?

I think many college student parents believe that their academic institute of higher learning will help a student find the career path. Yet, if they were to spend a few minutes with one of their offspring’s professors, they would find that most of their children’s professors and instructors are somewhat more concerned with publishing research. Teaching an undergraduate student is for some a requirement to stayed tenured.

After 20 years in the Air Force, I took advantage of getting a second degree in business and marketing at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Many of my business and marketing professors scheduled one class to provide an industry expert, but I’ve noted that many of the students in the class either skipped the class or took the time to send texts to others via their cell phones.

Before finishing my degree, I was hired for one year to serve as a teaching assistant for Doctor Bennie Wilson, my former business communications instructor. One of my jobs was to create test questions after industry experts came to our business communications class to speak on a variety of topics. My duties also included tapping students who were speaking above a quiet whisper to one of their classmates or who fell asleep in the class to pay attention to our speakers.

Ed Whitacre, then the chief executive officer of AT&T and later the man who transformed GM, represented the quality of speakers in Dr. Wilson’s class, but I saw only one or two students who would take the time to talk to someone like him after his talk.

My wife, a college instructor, recently had one of our friends speak to her environmental science class. Her speaker, who had a PhD in environmental science, had spent two years in the Middle East. He was almost kidnapped during one trip to Egypt, and he was willing to speak to her students about job opportunities.

Sadly, almost half of her students decided they were going to skip this class. Not only did her students miss a chance to start a networking opportunity with an industry expert, about 10 years older than them, but they also faced four questions on their next test about his talk. Those questions were a letter grade difference for that exam.

If your son or daughter is heading to college or is currently enrolled in a two-year or four-year program, I wonder how many of them have had a talk with their children about using LinkedIn as part of their strategic plan towards finding a career that motivates them.

(Note: I’m working on a new book aimed at parents who have college students on the importance of LInkedIn as a business and career networking tool. As always, I truly appreciate your candor and thoughts on this topic.)

Like a lighthouse on a foggy day, I help people either avoid the rocks or stand out in the fog of mass media or other forms of communication outreach.