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18 tips to ensure you're using LinkedIn effectively

By KSL Jobs | Posted - May 6th, 2014 @ 9:50am

Social media sites can be overwhelming to say the least. One thing, however, is for sure — and that’s the fact that every social site or product has its own purpose. On occasion it makes sense to share the same thing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. But then again, sometimes it doesn’t.

Some posting strategies may overlap from site to site but overall, your strategy should be different for posting on LinkedIn than for any other network. Depending on your post, it may make sense to share it Twitter as well, hence the reason LinkedIn has made it easy for you to do exactly that.

If you aren’t familiar with LinkedIn, well, that’s your first problem. So to solve that problem here is a quick explanation. In a nutshell, LinkedIn is meant for you to connect with others on a professional standpoint and network. Consider it a great place to make an online portfolio for your work that’s easily shareable and editable. After all, it may just help you land a job.

Here are 18 things that you should know about LinkedIn:

Have a professional profile picture. This is not the web space where you want to post a selfie. It’s not meant for “poking” people or inviting others to play Farmville or Bejeweled. So remember, your profile picture should look professional.

Keep your profile updated. LinkedIn is like your online resume and portfolio. Recruiters and friends are looking at profiles constantly and when (not if) they come across yours, you want it to be updated and looking good.

Don’t annoy others with your updates. LinkedIn automatically defaults user profiles to notify their connections when an update is made to their profile. When you make updates that aren’t “big news,” consider heading to your settings and changing the setting titled “select who can see your activity feed” to “only you.” Be sure to change it back when you’re done.

Photo: Shutterstock

Don’t embellish your accomplishments. Let’s face it; everyone wants to present the best version of themselves when they know it matters most. Since LinkedIn is focused on bringing people together under professional circumstances, it’s important that you paint a clear picture of who you are and what skills you’ve acquired.

Write like you're being graded. Whether you're posting a status update or adding experience to your profile, make sure you have your t’s crossed and I’s dotted. Too many people become casual and lose out on great opportunities to impress others because they didn’t stop to think about the written difference of due/do or to/too/two.

LinkedIn is for professionals, not to goof around. DON’T share your favorite YouTube clip about how “Charlie bit my finger,” or the latest Miley Cyrus gossip. DO share content that you’ve produced, been involved with or articles, news, etc. that is relevant to your industry.

Make your posts engaging. Remember to use rich media, or lots of images and visual content in your posts. The more real estate you give your posts, the more likely they are to be visible to others. Think about it, a picture takes up more space than a sentence… usually. So use relevant pictures or videos when possible.

Get a custom URL. LinkedIn allows you to create a custom URL, which in turn, can help you with SEO purposes. If that makes no sense to you, basically, it’ll make it so your LinkedIn profile is more likely to populate when someone is doing a Google search on you. In this case, that's a good thing.

Photo: Shutterstock

Help others find you. In your summary you should include common misspellings of your name. Don’t assume everyone knows how to properly spell it. Include common misspellings so you’re more easily found. Label what you’re doing in the summary. For example: “Common Misspellings: John Dough, Jon Doe, John Dou, etc.”

Use a personalized message when trying to connect. LinkedIn gives users the ability to send and receive requests to connect. It also uses algorithms to recommend people that you may know. This is a great tool for finding people you want to connect with. LinkedIn also provides a default message when you send a request, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” As nice as that message is, you should not use it! You should personalize your message to the individual, always.

Don’t accept each and every request to connect. LinkedIn isn’t like other social networks where you might feel comfortable connecting with people you don’t know very well. LinkedIn is meant for deeper relationships and professional ones at that. So don’t be hesitant to turn down a request to connect if you don’t know the person.

Don’t stalk people. Be honest, you’ve Facebook stalked someone to see what they look like, what they’re up to, etc. Unlike many other popular social networks, when you view someone’s profile, they get notified about it. So LinkedIn is NOT the place to stalk other folks. It is, however, the place to look at people’s profiles if you have a professional interest in connecting with them or want to see what they’ve been doing in their field recently.

Endorse your connections. LinkedIn populates connections you have and prompts you to endorse that individual for a certain skill. It then tallies up the endorsements and allows others to see them when they visit your profile. It’s important to return favors with this feature. If someone endorses you, don’t be hesitant to endorse them back, so long as it’s honest and credible. In other words, you may not want to endorse your old-school dad for blogging if he doesn’t know how to type. The good news? LinkedIn usually does a great job at suggesting skills that are associated with the user’s profile. So most of the time you’re in the safe zone.

Get and give recommendations. LinkedIn allows you write a recommendation for someone else and others to do the same for you. These serve as great references for future employers or connections to look at. They are on site testimonials about your work ethic and you as a product. Go ahead, ask a colleague to write a paragraph or two to recommend you. Note: recommendations are different than being endorsed.

Follow corporate pages. Businesses are allowed to create corporate pages, much like they are on Facebook or Twitter. Often a company page will have news about their industry, job postings, and other valuable information. Pick some corporations you have interest in and start following them.

Join and participate in groups. If you’re a college grad, find an alumni group for your school and join it. Groups offer a rare opportunity to connect with people who you don’t previously know but may want to get to know. Plus, being active in LinkedIn groups tells others in that group that you’re aware of what’s going on in your industry. Once again, keep posts relevant and professional.

Express thanks. Be sure to reach out to people and thank them for recommendations, reaching out to you, etc. Much of this can be done through your inbox. Oh… and stay on top of your inbox.

Let others know you are on LinkedIn. Share your profile regularly on your other social networks to let people know that you have an updated profile on LinkedIn. Many, not all, of your connections on other social sites could be valuable connections for you on LinkedIn.

It should be noted that many of these features are limited or different when using the mobile app. So it's recommended that when you edit or update you take that into consideration.

Did we miss any tips you know about? Share them in the comments.

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