Best Practices for Using LinkedIn

Whether you’re starting a business, are a recent graduate, or an experienced professional, you need to be on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great resource for those who want to connect with others in their industry, gain credibility and even those who are looking for a new place of employment. There are do’s and don’ts when it comes to using LinkedIn and you want to make sure you’re following the best practices for more successful networking.

The Look

From the layout of your work experience to your profile photo, you need to look professional while still appealing to others in your industry. Focus on these three areas and you’ll improve the overall look of your LinkedIn profile.

  • Photo: WSJ wrote a great article on LinkedIn photos and indicates you should pick a photo that is professional, but isn’t a glamor shot. An overly, or obviously, photoshopped image may seem like a good idea, but it’s better to have a photo that shows the real you.
  • Visibility: Having a private profile may not be your best bet when it comes to this social network. When researching business connections, people are apt to Google you and search for their LinkedIn profile. Change the settings so your profile can be fully indexed by search engines.
  • The Content
  • How your profile looks is important, but so is what you post and how you go about it. Make sure to complete your profile as much as possible. Having an incomplete profile is unprofessional
  • Updates: Some argue for, and some argue against, connecting other social media accounts to your LinkedIn. Depending on the frequency of updates and your settings, it may be beneficial to do so. Just make sure what you post is relevant, interesting and informational.
  • Experience: Just as a resume should be, your experience on LinkedIn needs to be bulleted. The average time spent looking over a resume is about 30 seconds. How much longer do you think they’ll spend on LinkedIn when they can search and scroll to find exactly what they’re looking for? Exactly. Keep it simple and easy to scan over.
  • Keywords: Make sure you use keywords relevant to your industry in your experience in and skills. If you work in marketing, make sure you include the different areas from SEO marketing to content-driven focused. Keywords also show potential partners or employers you have an understanding of the industry.

The Networking

Don’t forget that LinkedIn is a networking site. If you aren’t networking while on the site, you are doing something wrong. No matter your experience or goals when it comes to using this social network, you can’t forget that making the most of the platform means engaging with others.

  • Recommendations: Ask for recommendations from clients, employers, and others that you’ve worked with. Be willing to provide recommendations in return or accept requests when a colleague asks you for one. Make sure you have at least one recommendation from a manager.
  • Discussions and Groups: Join groups and participate in the discussions of your industry and business. You could gain access to new, valuable information, become a thought leader in your industry, and gain professional credibility. Not only that, you may find potential leads.
  • Introductions and new connections: If you see the profile of someone who could prove a beneficial connection, don’t hesitate to reach out. If you have a connection in common, ask for an introduction. If you don’t, invite them to connect with a brief introduction as to who you are and how the connection is mutually beneficial.

Start using LinkedIn by connecting with friends and family and making sure your profile is up to date. As you begin to network and connect with current clients and potential customers, you’ll find the networking strategies that work best for your business. When other forms of communication fail, use LinkedIn as a backup resource. These best practices can help you make the most of LinkedIn.

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