To get the most out of your LinkedIn profile, make sure you do these four things:
1. Complete Your Profile. Your profile is the “front door” to your LinkedIn account. First impressions matter — so make sure you’ve made your profile as complete as possible. As an added benefit, your LinkedIn profile generally ranks high in Google search results for your name, so make sure your profile is up-to-date, accurate, and complete.
POWER TIP: Your LinkedIn profile should complement — not duplicate — your résumé. Be especially careful to ensure the two are in sync, as prospective employers are likely to “Google” you and will compare the two.
2. Grow Your Connections. There are two schools of thought when it comes to LinkedIn connections. You can choose to connect selectively, accepting invitations only from those you know and trust, or you can use LinkedIn to grow the network of people you know. You can connect with people you meet through Groups and get introduced to people you don’t yet know offline.
POWER TIP: The power of networking lies in “friends of friends,” so the larger your network, the easier it will be to connect with someone you don’t know (yet). Remember the principal of “six degrees of separation.”
3. Give to Get. Authentic, genuine Recommendations can make or break a LinkedIn profile (just like references can for a job candidate). Instead of sending out those presumptuous LinkedIn “Can You Endorse Me?” emails, select a handful of people in your network and write Recommendations for them, without asking for one in return. You will be surprised at how many people will reciprocate.
POWER TIP: Make sure your Recommendations are specific and detailed. When reading the Recommendation, you should be able to tell exactly who it was written about. Quantify accomplishments with percentages, numbers, and dollar amounts as much as possible.
4. Get Involved. Join some LinkedIn Groups. Groups are the “water cooler” of the social site. You can find Groups for school and university alumni, your former and current employers, trade groups, industry associations, and more.
POWER TIP: One way to establish yourself as an expert on LinkedIn is to start your own Group. For example, you might consider starting an online job club centered around your industry or geographic proximity.