LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking tool. With a user base of 161 million (and growing), the site is an effective resource for a variety of tasks: connecting with friends and colleagues, learning more about a particular industry and looking for a job.
Of course, the key to LinkedIn (as with any online tool) is to use the site often — and correctly. After all, at its heart, LinkedIn is a social networking site — and that means you need to maintain visibility in LinkedIn’s fast-moving activity stream in order to help maximize the site’s potential. As with other social sites, there’s a list of dos and don’ts that you should follow in order to create an effective LinkedIn presence and avoid annoying other users. First impressions always count, and your digital presence is just as important as the image you project in person.
The 3 Most Prevalent LinkedIn Mistakes
Your profile is, without a doubt, the heart of your LinkedIn presence. It’s what people see when they consider connecting with you. It’s what prospective employers see when they’re searching for potential employees. And it’s what prospective clients see when they’re considering you for a new business opportunity.
When you start using LinkedIn, make sure your profile is complete. Include a summary, skills, experience, links and contact information. Don’t forget a photo, and opt for a professional headshot that’s closely cropped around your face. If applicable, make your profile more robust with features like certifications, projects and publications. Your LinkedIn profile is an easy way for prospective employers and clients to learn more about your professional history, expertise and skills. Don’t make them work to find the information. Instead, use your profile to paint a complete picture of who you are and what makes you unique. Get them interested in getting to know you better.
If people can’t find you on LinkedIn, your profile does little good. Plus, keep in mind that LinkedIn profiles carry some serious SEO weight. People may not only search for you within LinkedIn, they may Google you, too. If your LinkedIn profile is complete and optimized, chances are good that you’ll appear higher in search results.
As part of your profile, LinkedIn offers a section in which to include key words that pertain to your skills and industry. Don’t skimp on this feature. Add as many relevant key words as you can. Use terms like “technical writing,” “project management,” “event coordination,” “civil engineering” — whatever pertains to your job, professional history and industry.
Check to make sure that you have a public profile, too. LinkedIn gives you two options — a profile and a public profile. The public version is visible in public search results. You can opt to customize which portions of your profile are publicly visible, but it’s ideal to make your entire profile visible.
While you’re at it, add a custom URL that will be attached to your public profile. Not only is it easier to distribute a URL that’s tailored to your name, rather than a random string of numbers, it also serves as another boost to your profile’s visibility.
Don’t abandon real-life etiquette when interacting with other users on this, or any, social networking site. For example, you wouldn’t likely go to a networking event, approach a group, cut off the conversation and start talking only about yourself. So avoid that kind of behavior on social networks. Best practices include being approachable, friendly and helpful. Interact with others. Share and comment on their content. Offer your own ideas. Participate in discussions in LinkedIn Groups or Answers, but don’t monopolize the thread. Remember that your behavior online is often as important as it is in person.
Above all else, remember that LinkedIn is a tool. The site won’t do the work for you, but if used regularly and correctly, it can provide a huge boost when it comes to positioning yourself for professional growth.
Have you noticed any other common mistakes on LinkedIn?
Image by nan palmero via Creative Commons