I’ve been getting asked more and more lately about LinkedIn. People I meet want to know why to use it, how to use it, and if it can actually be an effective marketing tool. Here’s the truth, people. If you are in business and you are looking for more business, especially from a relationship-building perspective, you should be on LinkedIn. I can tell you from my own experiences that I’ve landed clients from LinkedIn, and in a business like mine, it out performs other social media sites like Facebook, entirely.

The following tips will be useful whether you are LinkedIn beginner or have been on the social media network for a while, but need a refresher course or just have never been quite sure how to use the social media network.

Profile Photo

It may sound simple, but I see it over and over again, where you go to request a connection with someone or visa-versa and the person is unrecognizable. This is a big no-no on LinkedIn, because you need people to be able to connect your face with your name. Here’s how to fix that!

  1. Get someone to take a photo of you. LinkedIn is not the place for selfies.
  2. Choose a simple background with adequate lighting.
  3. Wear colors that will compliment the background and won’t be too busy in contrast with the background.
  4. Make yourself look presentable. If you uploaded a photo right after a 3-day, no shower weekend camping out on the lake, you might want to redo that photo.
  5. Upload your photo using the correct dimensions. You’re going to want your photo to be between 200×200 pixels to 500×500 pixels. And standard photo types: JPEG, PNG, GIF. It should also not be larger than 4MB or it won’t upload.

Headline

Your headline is really one of the best places to advertise yourself on your profile and you don’t need to limit it to one stuffy job title. You can be creative, as long as it’s specific and related to your goals and aspirations on LinkedIn. Fill in a headline that is descriptive of you and your career as a professional. If you need ideas, take a look at how others within your industry have crafted their headlines. You’ll be able to learn a lot by doing some research into others.

Summary

Keep in mind that your LinkedIn profile is like having an online resume that doesn’t have to be capped at a few pages of information. You have an entire webpage to yourself to flaunt your expertise, as you desire. The good thing about LinkedIn is doing this isn’t considered cocky or arrogant, it’s considered the norm. You want to write to your strengths in business, your accomplishments, and your aspirations.

The summary section of your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to be a few sentence summary. In fact, I prefer to write a few paragraphs of information. After all, if someone is searching for someone within your industry and they are using specific keywords to do so, you need to make sure those keywords can be easily found within your profile. Your summary provides useful real estate to join the skills and talents you’ve acquired throughout your career and craft together a cohesive message about how your journey as a professional has been shaped. Don’t be afraid to add some personality to this section, but I’ll say it again – LinkedIn is a professional network.

Also, you may be wondering what tense you should write your LinkedIn profile in. Meaning, do you write it from the perspective of “I did this” or “Deanna did this”? I don’t think there is a right or wrong way, but I prefer taking the first person approach since when someone is connecting, they are connecting to me. They will be talking to me and interacting with me. They won’t be interacting with some arbitrary bot named Deanna. To me, it makes it more personal.

Experience

This is the piece of your LinkedIn profile that is really going to start looking like a traditional resume. Like a modern resume, try not to simply include what you’ve done at current or previous jobs, but the results you’ve gotten for your clients, coworkers, or customers. You’ll want to fill out any relevant job experience you want to have included. You’re not getting a background check here, so if you don’t want to include those few weeks of working under the table at a dead end job, you don’t have to. Do include all of the positions that could potentially lend to your credibility as a professional and can help to shape your story of how you’ve evolved in the professional world. And try not to have large gaps in time in your profile or people may wonder what on earth happened. Even if the position isn’t in the same realm of what you’re doing now, you can still list what you did during that position and even why you took it in the first place.

Remaining Pieces

LinkedIn is going to give you several more categories to round out your profile including education, organizations, skills, projects, certifications, and more. Select any of these that pertain to you. Include any volunteer work, any committees you are a part of, or anything else that will help to tell your story from a professional point of view.

Remember, you can edit your LinkedIn profile at any time, so you can always fine tune and change the content within your profile. With these tips, you should have a good grasp of where to start so you can begin making the business connections that will help you prosper on LinkedIn.