How To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Since its inception in 2003, LinkedIn has become one of today’s leading career resources. LinkedIn allows users to build mutually beneficial professional relationships while presenting their experience to potential employers.

Presently, the professional social network has over 200 million registered users worldwide, including 3 million businesses and executives from every Fortune 500 company as of 2012. Given the diversity of LinkedIn’s membership and the social network’s popularity, it’s in your best interest to create the best profile possible in order to successfully market yourself and benefit from the site.

The first step in developing an effective LinkedIn profile is ensuring that it is comprehensive and up-to-date. Fill out every section, and use keywords throughout your profile. Keywords will help potential contacts and employers find your profile when they conduct searches on LinkedIn, so incorporate them into your job titles and other sections. As your online resume, your profile provides insight into your professional history, so be sure to include succinct and informative descriptions of your experience.

In addition to including keywords, you should customize links as much as possible to make your profile more search engine friendly. LinkedIn allows users to create a vanity URL instead of sticking with the generated alphanumeric one. Use your name in your URL so that when people search for your name, they’re more likely to see your LinkedIn page amongst the results. Another oft-neglected area of customization on LinkedIn is the websites portion of the profile; rather than using the default options like “Blog” or “Company Website”, click “Edit” then select “Other” and write a more descriptive, keyword laden name.

Recommendations are another important aspect of your profile. For interested parties, they serve as reliable confirmation of your abilities. Focus on obtaining recommendations of substance rather than reaching a set number. Ask for recommendations from people with whom you work closely and have a strong relationship. That way, you’re more likely to get a tailored one that is a true testament to your skills rather than a generic, uninspired recommendation.

Depending on your profession, you may want to take advantage of LinkedIn’s ability to link media to your profile. The inclusion of media can add personality to your profile while providing concrete examples of your work and expertise. LinkedIn has a list of nearly 100 media providers that can be incorporate into profiles. For example, communications professional can link to their Twitters to highlight their social media experience while candidates in an MBA online program can link to SlideShare or Prezi accounts and share class presentations.

After you’ve fleshed out your profile, the next step is building your network. LinkedIn connections use a degree of separation approach, showing users their first-degree (direct) contacts as well as second-degree and third degree contacts. Networking is a necessary part of the working world, and LinkedIn’s strength lies in cultivating professional relationships. Connect with coworkers, clients (if it’s acceptable), and friends to expand your network and have access to their contacts.

Groups are another useful tool in LinkedIn’s networking arsenal. In addition to reinforcing your interest in a specific industry, groups are filled with potential contacts. In fact, as soon as you join a group, fellow group members will show up as part of your network. As a result, you’ll be able to acquire more contacts that are actively involved in your industry, which can be very helpful in current and future job searches.

LinkedIn is a massive social network that is only continuing to grow, making it even easier for you to expand your network. A well-constructed profile is a necessary tool for all LinkedIn users and will be incredibly helpful in your networking and job search endeavors. By following the aforementioned tips, you can construct an impressive profile that will allow you to truly take advantage of LinkedIn’s many benefits.

 About the author: Joshua John is the digital strategist for MBA@UNC, the University of North Carolina’s online mba degree, and MPA@UNC, the University of North Carolina’s online mpa degree. He also loves gadgets, movies, and all things links. Follow him on twitter @joshuavjohn.

About

Joshua John is the digital strategist for MBA@UNC, the University of North Carolina’s mba online, and MPA@UNC, the University of North Carolina’s mpa degree online. He also loves gadgets, movies, and all things links. Follow him on twitter @joshuavjohn.