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8 Must-Know LinkedIn Best Practices

Most of us know by now that having a professional online presence is an essential component in today’s job market. Having a social media CV on websites like LinkedIn creates more networking opportunities, helps you get noticed by recruiters and other professionals in your field and can lead you to land your dream career. But, how do you ensure you are making the most out of your online profiles?

We asked our career coaches to provide tips on how to optimize your profile on LinkedIn, so you can really shine.

Don’t treat LinkedIn as you would other social media networks

“First thing’s first – Do not treat LinkedIn as you would other “social media” outlets,” advises career coach Lisa Pachence. “It’s designed to be a business network platform and is particularly suited for business building, career seekers and recruiters. Some career seekers make the mistake of using it as a way to speak their mind, as an afterthought to their resume, or as a casual connecting community. Reinvent your relationship to LinkedIn and relate to it as you would a career or business networking community.”

Have a good picture

“A picture is a must,” explains career coach Marla J Williams. “No picture sends the message that you have something to hide or you are too lazy to upload one. The picture needs to be a professional one, if not a really good camera phone one will work until you can get a professional one taken.”

Treat your connections like gold

“Know the importance of connections and referrals,” Lisa advises. “Recruiters, managers and human resource departments always look to fill an open position through referrals or current employees first. In my experience as a recruitment director for a Fortune 100 company, personal connections and referrals were 10 times more likely to be hired than internet leads! LinkedIn is a great way to initiate that connection. Use it wisely and with great respect.”

LinkedIn headers count

“Most people think that your professional heading is where you put your company name (if you have one) or something like: seeking employment,” career coach Mary Kruger explains. “That’s not quite true. What you want here are keywords that describe who you are and what you do: entrepreneur, accountant, engineer, plus other key words that relate to jobs, partnerships or clients you are targeting.”

“You can also talk about how you help people if you are providing services,” she adds. “When recruiters, employers and others do LinkedIn searches, they see your name, the Professional Heading and your location only, so you want to make your heading count.

Here’s my heading:

Mary Kruger Header LinkedIn

More header tips

  • You have 120 characters – use them wisely
  • To calculate your characters go to Word and type in your heading. Now highlight the heading, go to Tools, Word Count, and look at Characters (with spaces) to see your character number
  • Use symbols to separate ideas such as  “ | ” or  “ ♦ ”
  • Try searching for LinkedIn job titles that are similar to yours; see what keywords come up for others and incorporate some of them into your heading. Google is also a good place to target key words that relate to your work/services

Be active and stay active

Lisa says it’s important to be active on LinkedIn and stay active. “Join groups, post in groups, put up original content and thoughts, make new connections.”

Marla J agrees that joining groups in your industry and contributing on a regular basis is a great way to stay active and relevant.

Limit any “selling” of yourself

While LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your professional experience and skills, Lisa warns that you don’t want to overdo it. “This means limiting or eliminating any “selling” of yourself – refrain from spamming and resist sending templated or mass messages.”

Be professional

Again, LinkedIn is a professional business network, so you should always put your best foot forward when sending messages, leaving comments or sharing content.

“Connect and message individuals with poise, thoughtfulness, graciousness and intention,” Lisa advises.

Marla J agrees, adding that you should keep your personal opinions off LinkedIn as much as possible.

Create a vanity URL for your public profile

“LinkedIn (LI) automatically assigns individual profiles with a web address or what’s called a URL,” career coach Lynden Kidd explains. “The URL may be some combination of your first and last name and then some combination of numbers and letters. You can find your URL just under where you see your photo on your LI profile.  This web address for your profile may be added to business cards, email signatures, resumes or a personal website as a key way for people to get to know more about you instantly. The magic happens, however when you personalize the address, so it is as simple as possible without the additional letters or number that LI assigns automatically.

To make this change:

  • Hover over the end of the assigned LinkedIn address and you’ll notice a settings icon
  • Click on the settings icon and it will open up a way for you to customize your address and remove the nonsensical letters and numbers assigned by LI
  • Your public profile will appear and then you’ll need to look at the top right column
  • There is at the very top an option to enhance your personal brand by creating a custom URL for your LinkedIn public profile.
  • Click on the edit icon (the pencil) to open a new editable box where you can replace the assigned LI address and replace it with one of your choosing.

“I suggest making it your name, but should that be taken consider adding: 1)  a middle initial or, 2) the state abbreviation, or 3) a number less than 10 or over 100 to the end of the URL,” Lynden says. “The reasoning for this is no matter the number between 11 and 99 the reader is trying to decide what the number means – your birth year, your kids’ birth year, your graduation, your anniversary. Don’t give them fodder.

Finally, don’t forget to save after you’ve made your modifications to the address.

“Since my name is so unique, I didn’t need to add letters, a middle initial or numbers.  Here’s mine: www.linkedin.com/in/lyndenkidd You’ll appreciate having a simplified address, and it looks much more professional without the letters and numbers.  Use it liberally to share your freshly updated profile.”

About the Author Kristen Moran

Kristen is the editor and community manager at Noomii.com and the Noomii Career Blog. Kristen's desire to ask questions and share information with others led her to pursue journalism. While she has worked at various publications, covering everything from municipal politics to local restaurants, it was her love of self-improvement and sharing inspiration with others that made Noomii the perfect fit. Connect with Kristen on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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