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Best Practices with LinkedIn Profiles

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with more than 200 million members and growing. While you may use Facebook or Twitter for your personal life, LinkedIn is the “go-to” network for your professional life. To get the most out of networking with LinkedIn, take a moment to make sure that your profile is as complete as it can be. Studies show that you have a greater chance of networking success when you have a complete profile.

Make a Good First Impression

Your headline and your photo have the most visibility, so make sure your first impression is positive. If your profile doesn’t have a photo, upload one or have one taken. Profiles with photos are 40% more likely to be clicked on. Your photo should project a professional image and be a close-up image of you (not a vacation photo or you posing with your dog). If possible, have a photo taken by a professional.

Your headline doesn’t have to the job title of your current position—it can be anything you want it to be that best explains what you do. Write your headline to your target audience and describe who you are and what you do. You have 120 characters to get your message across.

Publicize Your Skills

The summary section of your profile is where you explain what and how you do things differently from anyone else. Tell a story about how your career evolved or highlight your accomplishments. The summary is an opportune place to use key words that will increase your visibility in search results.

LinkedIn profiles have a separate Skills & Expertise section where you can inventory your skills (up to 80 skills). If you haven’t edited your profile in a while, you may need to update your profile in order to access this feature. These are the skills that your connections can easily endorse (although the jury’s still out on the effectiveness of LinkedIn endorsements).

You can get a personalized url for your LinkedIn profile. Having a condensed url makes it easier to add to your business card and email signature. To do this, click “edit” next to your current url and click “customize your public profile url.” Enter the new url and click “set custom url” to save your changes.

Display Your Work

LinkedIn has added a new feature where you can include media samples on your profile. This feature is being rolled out gradually to everyone, so you may not have it yet. This feature allows you to add files up to 100 MB in size to the Summary, Education and Experience sections of your profile.

To see if you have the feature, edit your profile and scroll down to the Summary, Education or Experience sections. If you see a media icon (looks like a square with a plus sign), then you can hover your cursor over the icon and upload a file. If you do not see the icon, the feature is not yet available. In the interim, you can add links to your portfolio website under your contact information.