My LinkedIn Snapshot

LinkedIn launched on May 5, 2003 (on my mother’s birthday) and currently has 277 million members — with two new people creating accounts every second.

Here are updated LinkedIn statistics to impress your boss or your mom.

I joined LinkedIn in February 2007 and I’ve actively used it over the years both as a consumer and a teacher. I’d like to think this makes me somewhat of an expert on how to use the professional networking site.

Whether you are on LinkedIn as a job seeker, a job recruiter, or to further your professional development, I want to share advice how you can be successful.

1. Keep your profile updated.

This is most important — as 40% of LinkedIn users visit the site every day.

If I search for your name on Google, Bing, or some other search engine, your profile link will appear in the top 5 results. If you share a common name like John Smith, you’re in the top 20 results. Don’t be outdated or inactive.

There is a correlation between the frequency of your updates and the frequency of search engines indexing it. If you never update your profile, your search rank will decrease.

2. Fill your profile with keywords and colorful language.

Your resume does not belong here. You can echo the titles but you want to expand on your bullet points, perhaps writing complete sentences or longer paragraphs. Tell your story — why you joined the company, what you did, why you left.

Your headline (the bold-formatted words underneath your name that follows you around the site) should be a description of who you are and not a mirror of your job title. There is a difference between John Smith the Veterinarian Technician and John Smith the Animal Care Specialist. Be the latter.

My current headline is Digital PR Strategist + Speaker.

3. Write a summary that supports your experience and education.

This is where your so-called cover letter goes. Write for the world to see.

You are limited to 2,000 words; but most summaries I see are under 200 words. The site enables you to type any character such as wingdings.

My summary starts with a brief snapshot of why I’m on LinkedIn (looking for a specific job opportunity), followed by highlights from my past, and ending with my contact information. I tell my story through the use of dashes, ellipses, and checkmarks.

4. Write in first person, not third.

Unless you introduce yourself in third person at job interviews, cocktail hours, and networking mixers, write your summary and experience sections with first person pronouns.

There are good examples of profiles in third person but I prefer reading about someone in her own words as if she’s describing herself to me on the phone.

5. Upload a current headshot as your photograph.

Ensure your photo is from the past year or two. Don’t display old photos to represent you on LinkedIn. Again, think of that cocktail party and show me the real you.

6. Participate in groups.

There are 2 million LinkedIn groups that you can join to connect with like-minded professionals in your industry.

You are limited to being a member of 50 groups. You can’t join more without leaving others. Though, the average person belongs to 7 groups.

There is a correlation between how much you participate and how much you get back. For instance, I’ve received job offers as the direct result of answering questions on groups about social media and PR.

7. Be smart about connection requests.

You shouldn’t connect to strangers. One benchmark to use is whether or not you can recommend the person. If you can write a recommendation off the cuff, say yes to the connection; else, ignore that person for someone who you can recommend.

I used to accept connection requests from people who commented on my blog and from people I randomly met at conferences. But because neither of us kept in touch, I gradually forgot their relevance and could no longer recommend them.

Moreover, they couldn’t recommend me when I asked for help connecting to others. This led me to unfriend over 2,000 people over the past year. I’m connected to 370 people today. Here’s a blog post I wrote about that bulk unfollowing.

Say yes to former high school classmates because chances are they are memorable enough in your head to remember them. Say yes to work colleagues. Maybe you know your neighbors, too. You never know who is connected to someone you need to know — and therein lies the point of LinkedIn.

8. Recommend your connections.

Whether your friend is a college classmate, colleague, coworker, etc., there should be a reason you two are connected.

I don’t refer to endorsements — those bobbleheads of people who think you’re a skilled expert.

Recommendations are mini testimonials that others can read why you like and respect your connection.

9. Ask your connections to recommend you.

Some job employers will automatically refuse candidates with less than so many recommendations. Fact is, if you don’t ask you’ll never know.

Keep in mind that some people will reciprocate a recommendation to you if you are proactive and write them one first.

10. Be a person, not a robot.

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” is the default message I see if you send me a connection request without customizing the message. That line is meaningless unless I know you well. Nine times out of ten, I’m replying to the person asking who she is or why she sent me a request.

It’s worse when she doesn’t have an uploaded photo — because I’m a visual person and photos help me remember people I met.

Change the default message and personalize it.

Tell me why you want to add me to your network.

These are my tips. What are yours?

Add a comment below and share with me and other readers.

Here is a link to my LinkedIn profile if you know an organization needing someone with my digital PR and community relations skills. Thanks.

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