LinkedIn is undisputed as the world’s largest professional network. Unlike Facebook, for example, people primarily use LinkedIn for business purposes. The reasons this is beneficial for professional networking purposes should be obvious. After all, as of February 9, 2012, LinkedIn could claim more than 150 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Those numbers represent a lot of potential professional connections. But if you want to take full advantage of LinkedIn, you need to start with creating a profile that effectively showcases you as a professional. Here are a five helpful tips to make the most of your LinkedIn profile:
1. Use a Thoughtful Photo
This doesn’t mean you have to be wearing a suit. I personally think pictures of attorneys in suits are boring and show a lack of creativity. Other people will tell you I’m nuts and that you should wear a suit. Nonetheless, what we can agree on is that this isn’t Facebook. Your profile picture shouldn’t be you wearing a baseball cap (unless you are Tim Lincecum or Cliff Lee), chugging a beer (unless you own a brewery) or cuddling with your sweetheart (unless… well, really just do don’t this ever).
2. Set Your Custom URL
When editing your profile you’ll see a link that reads “Change Public Profile Settings.” By clicking on that you can edit the url to your LinkedIn profile. It’s a good idea to edit this link to your name if it hasn’t already been taken. If it has been claimed already, claim some variation on your name instead.
3. Make Your Profile Complete
Be certain you’ve included your complete employment and educational history. After all, many people will search for former colleagues and classmates when building out their network. By including your former employment and educational history you make it easy for people to find your profile.
4. Use Specific Urls for your Websites
For reasons I don’t understand, LinkedIn encourages you to list the link to your blog or website as merely “Blog” or “Website.” Don’t do it. Instead, select the option for “Other” which allows you to customize those links with the specific name of your blog or website.
5. Regularly Update Your Network
LinkedIn is only as valuable as your network on LinkedIn. Be sure to regularly update that network with new colleagues, new clients, and other individuals you meet at networking events. You never know when those new connections could lead to new business.