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Whether you are new to LinkedIn®, exploring job opportunities, or a regular user, keeping a professional profile and active presence is an essential component for success in business networking. Your profile and activity on the social network acts as a marketing tool for your personal brand and communicates a great deal about who you are. Unprofessional material, errors, or lack of upkeep can leave a bad impression with those who view your profile, potentially hurting your chances of developing a networking connection or landing a new career opportunity.

Have a Professional Photo

LinkedIn®, as a professional networking site, is not the place for casual/personal photos. The following are a few tips when selecting an appropriate photo:

  • Professional Quality – Make sure that the photo is not so dark or blurry that you are not easily identifiable in your picture. Also, make sure that the size of the photo is large enough to fill the photo space provided, but not so large that it overfills the space with a close-up of your face.
  • Head-shot Picture – The picture should be a head-shot, not a mug-shot, of you in which your face is the focus. Do not use a picture that has been noticeably cropped to remove other individuals or surroundings. Also, do not use a picture that includes multiple individuals, as those viewing your profile may not know which person you are.
  • Professional Attire – Make sure that the attire you are wearing is professional. Stay away from overly casual outfits, such as sweatshirts, tank tops, or t-shirts.
  • Current – Use a picture that reflects your current appearance.

Put some real time and effort in selecting a photo that is an honest reflection of who you are as a business professional.

Keep Your Profile Current, Accurate, and Complete

LinkedIn® functions as a real-time source of information, so keep your profile as up-to-date as possible. You never know what opportunities may arise from a view of your profile, and you do not want to miss out due to information that does not best reflect your current skills, experiences, and abilities.

  • Confirm that the dates for your previous positions are accurate to ensure that you are not listed as an employee in a position you are no longer in.
  • Make sure that your summary section is relevant to your current situation and reflects your professional brand.
  • Update position descriptions to include your most recent responsibilities and accomplishments, particularly for your most recent position in which you may be continually taking on new projects and responsibilities worth noting.
  • Add any additional education, including continuing education courses, certifications, or seminars.
  • Add additional updates as they occur for your nonprofit and volunteer work.

Make Sure Your Profile is Free From Grammatical Errors

Just like your resumé, you do not want grammatical errors to detract from your content or give the impression that you did not give effort and attention to your work. Proofread your content. Also, it is a good idea to have another person or multiple people review your content for errors as well.

Change Your Page URL

The standard LinkedIn® URL for your profile page typically includes many letters/numbers/symbols which make it difficult to access and include on things like business cards or your resumé. By going to your profile contact information section and clicking the edit symbol next to your current URL, you are able to update the URL to one of your choosing. Typically, it is recommended to use your name or some similar format.

Link with Others

As a networking site, the main purpose is to create connections. It is not overly helpful to have a LinkedIn® profile if you are not using it to build your network through linking with others. Use the “People You May Know” section to search through a listing of individuals that you may be interested in connecting with; use the search option to look for colleagues, fellow members of organizations you are a part of, or other professionals that you know; and after meeting with new networking contacts, find them on LinkedIn®, and connect. Building a network of connections is not simply a one-time task, but rather an ongoing activity to be completed regularly.

Ask for Recommendations through LinkedIn®

LinkedIn® offers the option to write recommendations for those that you are connected with. Choose a few colleagues, direct reports, clients, and/or supervisors, and ask them to write a recommendation for your LinkedIn® profile. If applicable, you may also offer to return the favor by writing a recommendation for their profile. Remember, a couple of recommendations are sufficient; you do not need to have an abundance of them as it may begin to detract from your profile. Chose quality of recommendation over quantity.

Skill Endorsements

Skill endorsements are a good way to stay connected with people on a continual basis. Make it a priority in your career to send out regular endorsements. By endorsing those in your network, you may often find that they return the favor, better highlighting your diverse background and skill set.

Follow Companies and Organizations

Many organizations have pages on LinkedIn® which you can follow. Often times, these organizations are posting helpful articles on their industry, news from their firm, or even available positions in some cases. Not only does following keep you informed about the organization, but it can also help build your connections.

Join Groups

LinkedIn® offers a wealth of different user groups that you can join to expand your network. Some groups are based on specific professions or organizations while others are based on interests or skills. By joining groups, you can be connected with others that share similar interests/careers, further building your network of connections, as well as gaining valuable information.