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How to use LinkedIn: 10 best practices for improving your profile

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for professionals and business owners. The platform boasts 690 million members, and they represent a wide variety of professionals, from entry-level millennials to c-suite execs. Effectively using LinkedIn can help you grow your professional network and capture leads.

To make connections on LinkedIn, you should be following best practices for your LinkedIn profile. While LinkedIn is technically social media, there are also aspects of the platform where SEO techniques are effective. If you are already a part of the LinkedIn community and want to learn how to use LinkedIn more effectively, start by optimizing your profile and engaging with your network.

10 LinkedIn Tips Anyone Can Use

Improving Your LinkedIn Profile

Whether you’re a student or an industry vet, refreshing and optimizing your LinkedIn profile will help you stand out in search results on the platform. This is where LinkedIn best practices look a lot like SEO best practices. We’re assuming here that all of your jobs are up to date, your headline is set and you have your most relevant skills listed. If you need to take care of those details, definitely do that first!

  1. Choose professional profile and background photos that look great on LinkedIn’s desktop and mobile layouts. Your profile picture should be a recent headshot that reflects the dress code of your industry. We work in digital marketing, so our headshots are pretty laid back. If you’re a lawyer or banker, you’ll probably want a suit and tie. For a background image, create a graphic that reflects your company’s branding. Upload both of these images with file names that reflect your name and job title for extra SEO value.
  2. Update your summary. The first three lines will show when someone visits your profile, so focus on putting the most important information about your skills and career toward the beginning. Your summary can be up to 2,000 characters, so (naturally) integrate a few keywords here.
  3. Add documents, photos, websites, videos and presentations under your summary. Only include the best of the best here.
  4. Set a custom profile URL. This makes it easier to share your LinkedIn profile in places like your business card and email signature. It can also add some SEO value. To change your LinkedIn profile’s URL, use the link in the upper right-hand of your profile titled “Edit public profile & URL.” You can personalize the URL from the top right-hand corner, under “Edit your custom URL.” Change the URL to your name, or as close as possible.

Expanding Your Network on LinkedIn

To make the most of your optimized profile, engage with other professionals. This is where LinkedIn is very much like other social media platforms, with hashtags, likes, comments and direct messages. Use these LinkedIn tips to connect with individuals and companies who may just be your next client or partner!

  1. Make new connections. Use LinkedIn’s features like Recommended for you, Add personal contacts, LinkedIn QR code and Find nearby to connect with coworkers, acquaintances and connections you made in person.
  2. Join and participate in groups related to your industry, city or alma mater. Ask relevant questions and respond to others’ posts to showcase your expertise.
  3. Follow hashtags to get to know thought leaders in your industry that you wouldn’t find otherwise. Interact with others’ posts and use hashtags within your own posts.
  4. Engage with trending stories and hashtags. You can also take these topics and create your own posts and articles with your thoughts if you can do so quickly. You already know people are interested in this type of information, so why not take advantage of it?
  5. Create your own posts that showcase your expertise. LinkedIn’s algorithm prioritizes content that keeps people on the platform, just like Facebook. Use a good mix of text posts, images, video and articles, and then sprinkle in a few links to your website. Try to ask a question at the end of your posts to encourage comments from your connections.
  6. Engage consistently with your network. This will help people remember your name and your ideas.