How to make the most of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is most easily described as the Facebook of the professional world. For a long time, I didn’t really get it, but after using it for nearly 2 years now I’m finding it’s a really great way to network and find jobs. Even though I’m not on the job hunt right now, I’m always looking for my next move, and LinkedIn provides a peek at what’s out there.

My actual LinkedIn profile!

DO:

Post a photo. As is true of any profile on the internet, you get more views with a picture. A nice headshot is perfect. It doesn’t have to be professional, but when selecting a photo don’t choose one with anyone else in the photo or one where you are inappropriately dressed (ie. bikini-clad at the beach) or where you are engaged in questionable behavior (ie. keg stands).

Keep your profile updated and truthful. I do a huge private eyeroll when a I see a LinkedIn profile of someone I know listing an employer they no longer work for or exaggerating their role at a company. Remember that your LinkedIn profile is public, and you don’t want uncomfortable questions at a job interview after a prospective employer has Googled you.

Showcase your best. Did you flip burgers for McDonald’s in high school 10 years ago? No one cares, leave it off your LinkedIn profile. Like your real resume, your profile should showcase your most recent and relevant work experience, not every ¬†brush with employment you’ve ever had. Even though I put in years at restaurants, retail and childcare, I leave these items off my LinkedIn work history because they have nothing to do with where I want to take my career in the future.

DON’T:

Friend everyone you’ve ever met (or haven’t met). While I might call LinkedIn the Facebook of the professional world, it’s still not the actual Facebook so don’t go ahead adding everyone and their dog. I try to limit my connections to people I have actually worked or volunteered with. Consequently, I don’t have a lot of connections but the ones I do are reliable references whom I also endorse.

Update daily. If you’re chatty, keep it to your twitter/facebook/blog, not LinkedIn updates. I’m already annoyed that the site lets me know “these 20 friends have new connections”. Too much irrelevant detail!

Underestimate the opportunity. I’ve received 2 job offers via LinkedIn in the past year. Both of them I declined, but it’s nice knowing there’s other things out there. It’s probably not true that jobs will just fall into your lap if you make a nice LinkedIn profile, but hey, it’s not going to hurt you.

Do you use LinkedIn? What’s your experience?