career advance

You’ve been following us long enough to know all about how to set up your own LinkedIn profile (and if you haven’t, check the blog from last week). But as we mentioned there, there’s plenty still to be done after you’ve signed up for the service. If you continue filling out your profile and interacting with people on the site, you’ll do so much to raise your visibility and put yourself in the best position to find work, make new contacts and get ahead in your career.

Many users of LinkedIn fail to update their profile or do much at all after their first day on the site. So after you’ve filled out your work and education history, what’s next?

Find connections

LinkedIn is fundamentally like any other social network – Facebook, Twitter, whatever – in that what you get out of it depends heavily on who you’re associated with. If you’ve never requested a connection with anybody, you’re basically standing in an empty room.

It’s important however only to connect with people who you actually know – unless you’re a recruiter, or very influential, people generally won’t want to accept a request from a stranger.

Upload your photo

Profiles with pictures get seven times more views, as LinkedIn’s little popup helpfully informs you. Having said that, you can do better than just throwing out any old picture you have – if it’s recent, professional and features a smile, so much the better.

Post updates

A great way to connect with people less directly is to post text, image and video updates to your followers’ feeds. Content that’s relevant, shareable and interesting will do wonders for your profile. You can even write an entire blog post to really attract interest – just click the pen icon next to the status box to get started.

Ask for recommendations

There are few parts of the profile that grab people’s interest better than recommendations. This is just a few sentences from someone who knows you that can sell your skills and expertise to potential partners and employers.

Leaving recommendations for others is a great way to get them in return, but if you want to request without the quid pro quo, LinkedIn has a special facility for that. You can get started here.

Get a custom URL

Every profile on LinkedIn has a unique reference in the web address. Yours is probably something like 848687553, but if you’d like to be identified in a more personal way, you can grab a custom URL. Just follow these steps to use your name in the address to your profile.

This is advantageous in all kinds of ways – one of which is that it’s easy to refer people to your profile, even if your name is very common. You can tell people to visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/rbranson rather than http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=204068115, for instance – much easier to fit on a business card.

On the right side of your profile is LinkedIn’s handy “Profile Strength” indicator. The more that bubble fills up, the more you’ve achieved…and it’s a handy indicator of what’s left to do. Once it’s at 100% you’re set!

Of course you shouldn’t stop there, as it’s vital to continue updating your profile, sending out statuses and making new connections. If you’re currently looking for work, this is essential as recruiters can filter their searches for candidates who are active on LinkedIn. You’re sure to get the most out of LinkedIn this way, and it’s absolutely a great way of setting yourself up for new professional opportunities.

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