linkedin best practicesA friend of mine posted an interesting link on one of his profiles the other day. It was of an unkind response a senior executive made to some young job hunter who was simply trying to network through a group this executive manages. That’s what LinkedIn is all about right? Networking.

Recently, a colleague of mine told me that she often connects with anyone who requests it, thinking “Why not?”

The truth is that everyone has the possibility of being the next opportunity -not just from a networking standpoint, but business opportunities as well. That senior executive in the link that my pal posted on facebook has completely destroyed her personal brand (though I think her name was blurred out, but her image was still there) and her online reputation with over 200 pages of generally unflattering comments. Avoid being an online bully, and follow these best practices to make sure you’re finding the best connections for you and acheiving your LinkedIn goals.

Pay Attention to Endorsements

Some users think (and I tend to agree) that endorsements are useless. Having a high school classmate who’s never worked with you endorse you for “social media” when you’ve never worked with them seems to lack a certain amount of credibility in my opinion. Be strategic about the ones you post and edit them regularly. Here’s how…

Under “Edit Profile”, scroll down to the endorsements section. Here, you can manage not only what you’re endorsed for but also whose endorsements show up:


Managing your endorsements is a sure way to build up your credibility and showcase the skills or topics that you’re knowledgable about.

Join Groups

The great thing about LinkedIn is the networking capability, however, if you’re not using it then you’re missing out. One way to further your networking avenues on LinkedIn is through the groups feature. Not all groups are created equally, and you can vet groups by checking out the demographics and their activity prior to joining to make sure it’s a good fit for you. Groups don’t do anyone any good if: 1) you’re not active in them or 2) the group itself isn’t active. Make sure to contribute to conversations within any group you join to get the most of your memberships.

Add a Picture

Whether it’s a professional headshot, or a nice headshot of you taken elsewhere – post a profile picture and make sure it’s professional and not trashy. LinkedIn is a great first impression to have on potential employers, colleagues or other business connections, so don’t taint that first impression by having a picture of you with a glass of wine in your hand or otherwise inappropriate images. Make sure your picture is clear, up to date and, if not professional, at the very least classy.

Optimize your profile

Just like other job searching techniques, you can keyword optimize your LinkedIn profile to make sure you’re making the right connections. If you’re looking to connect with people who have marketing experience,  then you probably want to make sure your profile is coming up in searches related to marketing. Throwing in a few keywords when it comes to your background and your work experiences is never a bad idea.

Add Your Portfolio

Another way to build credibility? Show your work, including link to articles you’ve written, presentations you’ve created, or websites you’ve designed. Don’t forget to add links to your blog and social networks. People want to see your work – whether client, colleague or prospective employer, people are looking for your work and if there is one social network to build credibility, LinkedIn is the network on which to show it off.

Finally, no social network is effective without activity. Be active, be nice, and be open to those who reach out to you – even randomly – because you never know where your next business connection is going to come from and the last thing you want is to be known as a LinkedIn bully like the woman I mentioned earlier.