LinkedIn 101

LinkedIn is a professional social network that has had substantial growth since 2003 and has grown to now over 85 million members. With this kind of growth and more tools and features, it’s time to either reconnect with your LinkedIn profile or start one. So if you’re a professional or an organization who is trying to make important connections and impressions, you should find the tips below helpful to leverage this great tool. There’s a video for help on getting started.

Your LinkedIn profile

The first place to consider is the build-out of your overall profile. It’s very important that you fill out as much information as possible. This is in fact your online resume and should be complete and up-to-date. Also, take the time to get a professional looking photo of yourself that you can use as your profile picture. This alone will say much about who you are, which essentially constitutes your personal brand.

If you haven’t started yet, you can use the profile completion tips that LinkedIn provides to help you get to the 100 percent completeness level. Once you achieve this, your visibility and credibility will increase. Here are the things you will need:

  • Your current position
  • Two past positions
  • Your education
  • Your profile summary
  • A profile photo
  • Your specialties
  • At least three recommendations

As you work on building or rebuilding your profile, you may want to consider some of these points below that will help make a good profile even better.

Identify your keywords

Take the time to do a little research on keywords you want to be known for. Think about what keywords other professionals might use to find you in a search. Many recruiters and other professionals are now using LinkedIn to find good talent. So you should anticipate the words they will use in their search. Use your favorite keyword research program and check for the right keywords that are popular and that best fit your skillset.

As you then work on building out your profile, make sure you sprinkle in these keywords. By doing so, you should get a higher rank for those terms when someone does a “people” search on LinkedIn. Higher rank means more visibility and may lead to more opportunities.

Position yourself in your headline and summary

Consider your headline to be a personal branding statement. So project yourself as you would want people to perceive you and your skillset. You can edit your profile manually in the “edit profile” section. By default, your last job position becomes your headline unless you manually change it. So take the time to craft a statement about yourself that will be distinctive and unique using your targeted keywords.

Next, your summary should add clarity and detail to your headline in just a couple paragraphs. Think of this as your elevator speech; be detailed but to the point. Outline the unique abilities and skillset you have and any awards or accomplishments that send the kind of message that supports your personal brand.

Customize your URL

Do you know what your LinkedIn URL is? Having your name in your LinkedIn URL provides you a better opportunity to be found in search engines as well as in the LinkedIn search bar. To find out, go to “edit profile.” Then look down to where it says “public profile.” You’ll see it at the bottom of this screenshot:

LinkedIn Edit Profile panel

The public profile should appear as “” If it’s something unrecognizable, then you should change it. Just click on the edit link next to the URL. Then you will have the opportunity to input your name. If you have a common name, you may need to provide more detail to secure the URL you want, like a period between first and last name or something clever like that.

LinkedIn Public Profile panel

Post your full experience history

Take the time to fill out all of your work history. More history helps to paint a picture of your full capability. Also, try to use your targeted keywords to help increase your visibility. You can use the Resume Builder to help you with building this out. It provides a lot of good templates to help you get started. Once finished, you can then import your resume to make it convenient.

Take advantage of LinkedIn applications

There are many applications you can use to help enhance your LinkedIn profile. Check out the Application Directory to see a full list of these apps. If you have a blog or Twitter account, then Blog Link, WordPress, or Tweets will help you integrate your posts into your LinkedIn profile. If you do a fair amount of public speaking and presentations, then the SlideShare app will allow you to link to your SlideShare presentations to share with others. If you travel or participate in many events, then TripIt and Events might be an app you can use. There are many more, but can see how these apps will enhance the appeal of your LinkedIn profile and lend more credibility to you and your brand.


More and more professionals are turning to network sites like LinkedIn to get the information they need on people, potential employees, and companies. Having positive recommendations will help you leave a great impression.

Take the time to reach out to those you have worked with to make a recommendation for you. I recommend doing this personally. You may ask them to be specific and to point out a certain attribute or characteristic that matches how you want to be positioned. You might even drop them some of the keywords you are targeting to help keep your whole profile consistent and provide greater visibility. The more recommendations, the more believable it will be.

Finally, take some time to reach out and offer positive recommendations to your colleagues and friends. This also helps to let people know what kind of person you are. You never know, they might write one for you in return.

Participation: ask questions, answer questions

As with most things, the more you put into something the more you get out of it. If you want to be found and considered for a future job or business opportunity, you should take the time to participate. Join some groups and share your thoughts, and ask and answer questions. Some successful people on LinkedIn take the time to answer questions and help others daily.

LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool to help you build your personal brand. And in this economy, it’s a great idea to have a LinkedIn profile that’s polished and up-to-date.