It’s difficult to adhere to the social norms of new social networking websites, especially if you are not familiar with them. Without understanding how other people use LinkedIn and how they expect you to use it, LinkedIn can be very intimidating to begin with. How can you perfect your LinkedIn profile to compliment your professional image? How can you fit in to the LinkedIn community and take full-advantage of its potential? Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to taking full advantage of LinkedIn without embarrassing yourself!
Professional, not personal
LinkedIn is reserved specifically for internships work-related social networking – if you are interested in where the cool parties are this upcoming weekend or who your friends are hanging out with, then check out Twitter or Facebook. Once you understand who else is using LinkedIn and what they are using it for, you can better tailor how you use it. Your boss is using it to stay connected to their customers. Your investors are using it to vet possible partners and clients. You should be using LinkedIn in a similar fashion.
Professional profile picture
One of the most common questions people ask me is whether or not they should have a profile picture. The answer: absolutely! There are many people with the same name, so having a picture to go along with your profile makes it much easier for others to contact you. Also, professional profile pictures are welcoming and build a strong sense of trust and reliability to your profile. What is the most ideal profile picture? Typically, a head-shot in business attire.
Your profile is your resume
The easiest way to think about your LinkedIn profile is to think of it as your resume. Experience, education and contact information are the most critical pieces of information that must be present on your LinkedIn profile, just like they must be present on your resume. My LinkedIn profile is literally my resume word-for-word, but it does not always have to be that way. A strong LinkedIn profile will intrigue those who do not know you, and remind those who do know you just how valuable and accomplished you are professionally.
Include all necessary professional contact information
The worst-case scenario that a businessperson can find themselves in is being disconnected from potential investors, partners, colleagues and customers. Business cards get lost and contact information gets forgotten. If someone wants to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible for them by including your email address and phone number on your LinkedIn profile – no exceptions.
Connect with all of your professional contacts
Social networking leverages the power of large numbers, so in order to make social networking work for you, you need to connect with all of your professional contacts that you have ever had. Need help thinking of them? Think about past clients, customers, partners, investors, colleagues and friends. Think of school, internships, work, side-jobs and friends-of-friends. Once your network gets fairly big, it will be very obvious how important of a tool LinkedIn can be.