A couple of years ago, when I knew I wanted to get started in The Slash/Economy, I called one of the best slashers I knew who is a good friend to ask where I should start. Without having to stop and think about it, she told me “Start with LinkedIn”.

Having an online presence in today’s business is critical. Everyone knows that, but LinkedIn is a great place to start because it wraps a social network presence, with a blog and a personal website all into one place and its free. With all that LinkedIn includes, it might be the single best personal branding tool we can use today, but very few are getting it right. Here are some tips to make it work:

Complete Your Profile

This is where most people fail with LinkedIn. They leave most of their profile incomplete. This is actually an easy first step because LinkedIn will tell you how complete your profile is as you complete it while listing the missing components. Having our education and work history is important, but this is bigger than a resume, this can be the foundation of where we’re found online, so make it complete.

By the way, it isn’t even close to complete without a profile picture. Get a high quality, current headshot, crop it close and use it. People need to see us to know us and this is a great place to start.

Write A Compelling Summary

The summary on LinkedIn is our opportunity to sell ourselves to anyone whom we’re connected with or anyone we want to be. It’s what helps us stand out.

A compelling summary will share who we are, what we do and for whom we do it. Write it in the first person and be authentic. It’s perfectly acceptable to include some personal information here, but it’s more important that we tell our work story. We should view this portion of our profile as our work biography and we want to be as truthful and interesting as possible.

Side note: Nothing is worse than a pompous third person narrative. This is your profile, it should be written by you about you and anyone who talks about themselves in the third person is annoying, arrogant and boring.

Post Appropriately and Frequently

When LinkedIn was new, it was referred to by the media as Facebook for millionaires. This was a disservice and wildly inaccurate. There’s nothing wrong with documenting your life on the other platforms if oversharing is your thing, but LinkedIn is not the place to post about your workout, political opinions, or pictures of your meals. It is also not the place to hit on your connections (it’s strange how it’s always men that make this mistake). LinkedIn is a place to curate content that is helpful in your industry. share needed advice or post about business. Keep it appropriate and we build credibility, commit one of the above sins and there’s no way that we’re taken seriously.

There’s a great debate raging about how frequently we should be posting on LinkedIn, but I really believe that if we want to be seen, we need to be sharing something daily. Facebook and twitter are geared toward more frequent posts, but 1-2 times per day seems to be the perfect number for LinkedIn. Share an article, post about a great experience you had with a supplier, talk about where you’re going next, but post appropriately and frequently to stand out.

 

I really think that LinkedIn is the perfect place to start this year. Making a few of these tweaks will help raise our profile and credibility in the minds of those we need to be connected with and help us build a sustaining personal brand. Check back Friday when I conclude other tweaks to make the most of this powerful platform.

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