I'm a huge fan of the overall service that LinkedInprovides and sincerely believe that all professional adults should set up an account on that social-professional network. That said, I don't spend a lot of on the site. Quite the contrary. A LinkedIn account can pretty much run itself—if you take a few steps to set it up that way.
With these five tips, you can trust that your LinkedIn account is doing its job for you, letting your name, skills, and expertise be known to everyone in your network, as well as new potential new connections who might be interested in finding people like you.
1. Use a Professional-Looking Headshot One of the most important aspects of your LinkedIn account is the profile picture. You really have to have one. (That advice is true, really, of anyonline profile, whether it's a dating website or a business project management platform. You need an image, and ideally, it should be a headshot.
The headshot should be of your smiling face and a little bit of your shoulders. And it should look like you. We are often our own worst judges of our appearance, so ask your friends and colleagues their opinions in picking your best pic.
Depending on your career, you may be able to get more creative and expressive with your profile picture, but it depends on your field, level of experience, and reputation.
Sometimes there are complications, though. I once worked with a woman who could not use a headshot due to religious reasons in her country, and her creative workaround was to use the logo of the university where she worked, instead. Her solution worked well because she was still able to associate a professional "identity" with her name. The point is, a headshot is ideal, but there are other possible solutions, all of which are better than no picture, a picture of your cat, a picture of your kid—you get the idea.
I have a few other tips for updating your profile picture, including the fact that you should not update your picture more than once a year. You want to keep one image long enough to develop a strong association between your name and photo.
2. Think in Keywords In filling out the text of your LinkedIn profile, think about the keywords people might enter into a search to find someone like you. For example, my actual job title is technically "software analyst," but what I really do is write. I think of myself as a writer. So my LinkedIn profile uses terms like "writer" and "tech writer."
Load up your profile with straightforward search terms—not a bunch of synonyms. If you're unsure of which words to use, look through the jobs section of LinkedIn to find ads for open positions that are similar to your own job. What keywords turn up there? Reuse the relevant words and phrases in your own profile.
3. Add Videos, Images, and Links Your profile doesn't have to be all plain old text. Earlier this year, LinkedIn added a new multimedia feature to the profile section that lets you add graphics, slideshows (using Slideshare), documents, and links to other online content, such as your online portfolio.
To be honest, this feature doesn't work as well as I had hoped. You can't simply add an image from your computer; you have to link to a Web page, and LinkedIn will choose a default image from that page without giving you any choice in the matter. Sigh. Still, having something visual to break up the text goes a long way toward improving a profile.
To add a graphic, log into LinkedIn, go to your profile section, and click "edit." Then you have to select a sub-section, such as Summary or Experience, and look for the rectangle-with-plus-sign icon. That button lets you add new