6 tips to make the most of your LinkedIn account

LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking site worldwide, but the majority of its members have not developed their presence on the site sufficiently in order to capitalise on benefits LinkedIn has to offer. This post offers 6 tips members can use to improve their standing on LinkedIn.

In a press release issued yesterday, LinkedIn, the professional networking site launched in 2003, announced that it had over 150 million members worldwide, as at 9 February. LinkedIn is, by far, the world’s largest site of its kind, where:

  • Sixty percent of LinkedIn members are located outside of the United States, as of December 31, 2011.
  • LinkedIn members did nearly 4.2 billion professionally-oriented searches on the platform in 2011. (Source: LinkedIn)

Although many of us have joined LinkedIn, have we attempted to take advantage of all of the benefits that it offers? For most, the short answer is no.  Here are six ways to build your professional brand on LinkedIn.

1.  Be clear of your objectives on LinkedIn

Although many of us get coaxed into subscribing to a new social network or social media platform, our approach to LinkedIn should be different, since it is a purpose-driven community with unique features. Moreover, it offers its members invaluable tools and resources to help them advance their careers and businesses. It therefore is best to have some idea what you might want to accomplish, and what you believe (or expect) LinkedIn will help you achieve. Identifying your objectives does not need to be a formal and complicated affair. Do keep them simple and review, them occasionally while a member of that network to ensure that they remain aligned with your requirements and interest.

2.  Flesh out your profile

When most people first set up their LinkedIn account, only the bare minimum is entered in the profile. Admitted, it can be a tedious process to populate the fields, since in essence you are preparing an online CV. However, it is critical that you take the time to complete it, including the recommendations section, as it improves your visibility in internal searches,, and assist the platform when making personalised recommendations. More importantly, LinkedIn is a key go-to resource for preliminary research on an individual, and is used regularly to conduct background checks.  Hence you never know when someone might be looking at your profile to develop an impression of you suitability for a particular role or activity. So be proactive about showcasing your capabilities and experience.

3.  Build your network

Having augmented your profile, it is now time to establish your connections. A good starting point, which LinkedIn automatically suggests and you can search, is the address book for your email account. Additionally, you can conduct specific searches to find other colleagues, associates and friends via the LinkedIn search feature. Another useful tip is to look through your connection’s address books to find persons who you know, and with whom you might wish to connect.

4.  Find your peers

The interconnectedness of each LinkedIn member’s network is a powerful framework through which persons can interact. However the site also allows its members to set up discussions forums in which persons with common interests, but possible wholly unconnected from each other, can share, discuss, collaborate, and ultimately develop linkages. The forums can be found under the “Groups” heading, and at last count, there were over a million LinkedIn Groups (source: LinkedIn). Some groups are closed, meaning that your subscription must be approved, but there are a number of open ones, which would allow you to get involved immediately.

On a separate note, you might also wish to consider setting up your own group to satisfy a perceived deficiency. Setting up a group is relatively easy, but again this is something that should be given careful thought. Although you might have a head start in finding group members through your contacts, it is important to recognise that you will need to allocate some time to nurture the group, to increase membership, and to encourage and moderate discussions, as necessary.

5.  Become an authority

Being recognised as a leader in your field tends to be one of the underlying goals of the LinkedIn member who is aiming to make the most of the site. Your efforts to develop your profile, increase your connections and participate in groups are all key steps in order to be considered influential on LinkedIn. However, there is also a little known feature called “Answers”, which facilitates the sharing of business knowledge. Basically Answers, works by allowing persons to ask questions, while others respond, thus having the opportunity to showcase expertise an knowledge. Ultimately, you can be recognised as an expert when you provide the best answers to questions.

6.  Keep it fresh

Finally, once you have achieved, or are on track to accomplish all of the earlier points, it is imperative that you do not rest on your laurels. Your profile ought to be updated regularly to reflect changes in your career and your growth as a professional. Additionally, a number of Applications can be integrated into your profile, which would allow you to (among other things):

  • connect to blogs
  • provide book recommendations
  • include video clips, presentations, an event planner and travel schedule.

The applications allow you add new and different content to your profile, which increases your visibility within your network and your industry, particularly when specialist applications are being used