I have written about the importance of using the social networking site LinkedIn for networking; however, unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is not intuitive to use. The layout is clunky, and finding people you know can be a major challenge. Although LinkedIn is used by over 175 million around the world, many are not active on the site due the trouble of creating and maintaining the profile. When using LinkedIn, it is important to keep it professional. Also, it is necessary to log in often in order to receive the site’s full networking benefits. Below I have listed a few tips to follow that will keep your LinkedIn site looking professional and that will motivate you to keep an active presence.
Personal Information. Where Facebook is appropriate for you to list all of your zany interests and political musings, LinkedIn is strictly for professional development. Skip the extremely personal information, and only enter important networking points, such as work experience, education, and other related professional qualifications. While a Facebook profile may read like a personal journal, LinkedIn should read like a well groomed resume.
Skill Set. One of LinkedIn’s greatest features is the ability to verify someone’s skill sets. For example, if I list that I am a writer on my profile, friends and colleagues can ‘recommend’ my skills on my profile. This is a great way for users to interact and reaffirm each other’s resume. You never know who is looking at your profile, so it is best to highlight marketable skills, and hope that friends will verify them.
Profile Picture. While Facebook is a great place to have a profile picture that shows off your hip and interesting side, a LinkedIn profile picture should usually be nothing more than a simple head shot. It should go without saying that the picture should be flattering. It can be fun to wear a colorful outfit or have a nice background to the photo, but it is best to keep it as simple and as professional as possible. Always screen what you post as if you are showing it directly to a potential future employer. This is a great way to gauge what and what should not be on the profile, and it may save you a lot of hassle in the future.
Stay Active! The golden rule of LinkedIn is to keep it active and updated with the latest information. It does not pay to have a profile that will just sit for months without activity. Use this social networking tool to its greatest abilities by trying to connect with current and past employers that can verify your skills, as well as with friends. You never know where your next job will come from, so do not rule any option out. Block off at least thirty minutes every few days in order to keep up with LinkedIn. Compare this to the hours spent on Facebook every day, and this is a quick and easy way to build professional connections.