LinkedIn is one of the best professional networking tools out there. When used properly, you can strengthen your professional brand and open doors in your career. Sadly, many people fail to take advantage of all the features LinkedIn has to offer. Even worse, some people use LinkedIn in ways that could actually be damaging. If you have a LinkedIn profile, it will likely be one of the first results that comes up when someone Googles your name.
Since you never get a second chance to make a first impression, here are some dos and don’ts to help you optimize your presence:
- DO take advantage of profile options – LinkedIn profiles offer the ability to include information about yourself that you wouldn’t find on a standard resume. In my opinion, the most important is the ability to post work product and link to publications. Take advantage and link to blogs you’ve written or attach a white paper you authored. Don’t blog? LinkedIn allows you to publish posts that will appear under your profile. Show off your subject matter expertise!
- DON’T confuse LinkedIn with social networks – LinkedIn is a professional network, not a social network. Do not treat it like Facebook or, even worse, OK Cupid. Posting brain teasers, political articles, and memes is inappropriate. So is hitting on someone or making comments about his or her appearance. All of these reflect poorly on your professional judgment. Instead, link to topical articles and share content from your workplace.
- DO select your picture carefully – This is a corollary to #2. Use a professional head shot if you have one; this picture will probably be one of the first to come up in Google. I did a quick review of pictures people use for their profile and saw selfies, pictures including family members, people wearing sunglasses, pictures where another person had clearly been cut out, someone water skiing, wedding photos, women showing cleavage, a picture of a dog wearing a hat, etc. If you wouldn’t put the picture on your resume, don’t put it on your profile!
- DON’T be afraid to toot your own horn – LinkedIn allows you to include accolades, awards, scholarships, certifications, and more. Include as many as applicable, after all, you earned them. LinkedIn also allows others to recognize you via endorsements and recommendations. In my opinion, endorsements are meaningless because you can endorse connections without knowing anything about them. Recommendations, on the other hand, require the contact to write about you in more detail and therefore hold more weight. Consider asking close colleagues and clients for recommendations, and don’t hesitate to return the favor.
- DO join groups – LinkedIn groups cover just about every topic imaginable and are a great resource for keeping up to date on your industry. By actively participating in groups, you can meet new people and share your knowledge, too.
Hopefully, these tips will help you optimize your time on LinkedIn and enhance your professional presence. For more in-depth coverage of all things LinkedIn, check out expert Mark Amtower.