LinkedIn has become an essential tool for anyone who wants to be successful in business. Whether you want to sell your products, get a job, seek advice from like-minded peers or find people to work with you in your business, you need to get involved.

I will go through the basics to get you thinking about what to concentrate on;

1. Profile picture

This is one of the first things that people will look at. LinkedIn is not a dating site, so you don’t need to look like Brad Pitt.

This is something that could, if done wrong, ruin what otherwise would be a very good profile. The photo should be something recent that displays you as you are at work. This means that photos of you on holiday or on a drunken night out are not suitable. Just get a couple of headshots when you have you are dressed for business. Most smart phones have decent enough cameras these days. It’s a good idea to use the same picture across all your social network sites to help people recognise you and for you to build up your personal brand.

2. Headline

The headline is very important it is used to generate search results and is one of the snap shots people see of you before they click through to your profile. By default it is “Job title” at “Company name”. If you get your creative head on you can come up with something to make people much more likely to find you and click through to your profile.


Software consultant at software company


Software consultant who advises SME’s in the finance sector how to improve their customer loyalty and retention

If you were an SME in the finance sector looking to improve your customer loyalty and retention, I think we all know which one you would click on.

The key words you put in your headline will also help bring you up in more search results.

3. Profile summary

Your profile summary is possibly the first thing people will read, if they get past your headline and profile picture. You need to make sure your summary is at the top of your profile to give people a snap shot of what you are all about.

4. Custom URL link

This is your very own personal LinkedIn web address which you can use on business cards and on your email signature to make sure people can find the right “John Smith” when there are 101 other John Smiths. By default it is with your name in it and a long list of letters and numbers.

My custom URL is for example

You can choose pretty much whatever you want as long as someone else hasn’t got it. With LinkedIn growing at a rate of two new users a second, the URLs will get snapped up quickly so go do it now!

5. Profile and status updates

If you are actively looking to build your network over a period of the next few months then it might be an idea to turn off the activity feed which publishes to all your contacts that you have just added Joe Blogs or you have changed you skills. Once you have establish a good network and profile you should turn it back on so you can help share all the great things you do and say with your network.

6. Public profile

LinkedIn profile can be searchable by Google as well as through the LinkedIn search. You can control the information which people can find out about you, without being connected with you.

LinkedIn results generally get quite near the top of the search results if somebody Googles your name. It’s worth keeping some of your information public to aid people finding you.

7. Groups

Groups are a great way to build your network and your credibility. Some groups are open and some you have to request to join. If you find relevant groups in your industry you can join them and start to share your ideas and opinions with others. This is not a place to go into a sales pitch but somewhere you can offer suggest way in which you can help other people by commenting on other people’s questions and posts.

8. Building your network

The days of relying on a stack of business cards in a draw in your desk are over. LinkedIn, unlike business cards, get updated when people move companies. It’s worth going through all the contacts you have and adding a short note to the invite to keep it personal and let them know why you are adding them.

The people you might know suggestion page, is great because it looks at who you are linked with, who they are linked with and tries to work out where the gaps are.

9. Skills

The skills section is where you can add key words to increase your visibility in search results. You can add up to 50 so think about all the things which somebody looking for you might search for. If someone is looking for a web designer to help with their new blog and social media sites and just searches for “web designer” will be a lot of results. If someone searches for “web designer” + “social media” + ” blogs” the person searching for a web designer will get a much more relevant list of results.

10. Recommendations

This section can help you no end in gaining credibility. If you are trying to develop your business or if you are looking for a new job this section can help make sure people know how great you are.

Final thoughts

If you embrace LinkedIn it could help you step up your career this year. It could be the different between 90% and a 100% of your target. It could help you become visible to head hunters or it might get you found by a company crying out for your services.

What are you planning to do different with LinkedIn for 2012? What mistakes have you made in 2011?

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