I joined LinkedIn in February 2007. I’ve seen a lot over the years. I continue to witness people doing things the wrong way. Follow my advice and you will be successful.
1. Update your profile.
This is most important. If I search for your name on Google, your profile link will appear in the top 5 results. Common names might be further down but frequent updates have a direct correlation to higher rank. If you’re not on LinkedIn to be found, then you might as well delete your account. If you want to be found, then start updating.
2. Fill your profile with colorful language, not drab resume-speak.
There is a reason the site is called LinkedIn, not ResumePlace. Your headline should be a description of who you are and not a mirror of your job title. There is a difference between John Smith the Bank Teller and John Smith the Financial Customer Service Professional. Be the latter. Change your headline often. As I look for a new job, my current headline is “Your Next Hire in Community Relations.”
3. Write a summary that reflects your experience and education.
If it’s too wordy, you’ll be prevented from writing further. Most summaries I see are too short.
4. Write in first person, not third.
I’ve tried both persons but the fact is I always introduce myself in first person. Job interviews, cocktail parties, networking mixers, first dates — I always speak with the first person pronoun. LinkedIn is no different. Keep the same tense in your summary and your experience sections.
5. Upload a photograph to represent you.
This should be the same photo that you use with your tweets and other social updates. If your website has a headshot, that photo should be the one to use. Keep it current or within the past year. Don’t display old photos to represent you on LinkedIn. Think of that cocktail party and show me the real you.
6. Join groups.
The more groups you join and participate, the more potential people can learn about you, network with you, and connect to you.
7. Accept requests to connect.
Be smart about it. You don’t have to accept requests from strangers. The size of your network is in your control. You must also decide if you want to duplicate Facebook friends on LinkedIn. Should your high school classmates be connections? What about people you traded business cards with at a conference? Maybe you only want to be connected to people who shared coffee or a beer with you. Or maybe you want to open your walls and befriend the world. The choice is yours.
8. Recommend your connections.
Whether that person is a college classmate, a colleague, a coworker, or a blogger you respect, there’s probably a reason you’re connected. Write a few lines as a testimonial for others to read why you like and respect that person. Forget about endorsements. Those can easily be gamed by a click of the mouse and are generally perceived as weak links. Testimonials carry more weight.
9. Ask your connections to recommend you.
Some job employers will automatically refuse candidates with less than so many recommendations. If you don’t ask someone for a recommendation, you’ll never receive it.
10. Be a person, not a robot.
If you’re not connected to someone, send an invitation request but — please — change the default text so that person knows why you’re sending the invitation. Personalize your request.