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Career, Professional Development

LinkedIn 101

So, you want to create a LinkedIn profile.

Good for you.

The professional social networking community can be a tremendous tool not just for finding a job but for building and maintaining a network. LinkedIn is also emerging as a source for knowledge in your industry – the company’s pushing its publishing platform, Post, heavily.

I’m in no ways a LinkedIn power user. But I believe that this platform is quite easy to use, especially for those who already can navigate the waters of social media. I also believe that regularly curating your professional, online presence is critical to managing how you’re perceived by others who may be making decisions in your life – i.e. potential employers and business partners – and LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to do this.

But, you need to either create or significantly revise an outdated profile before you can really dig into the groups, conversations, and other networking opportunities while presenting yourself in the way you want. And this list is for you!

LinkedIn users, did I miss anything from this list? Anything you’d disagree with here? Let me know in the comments!

Step 1: The most important thing to keep you from appearing to be a total newbie to your connections (no matter how few you may have) is to make sure your network doesn’t see the minor updates you make to your profile. When you’re logged in on LinkedIn, visit your profile (top navigation bar, hover over Profile and select Edit Profile). On your profile, at the bottom of the right menu column, there’s a header that says Notify Your Network? Make sure this is marked “No.”

Every other step:

  • Profile image: Find one that’s not pixilated, preferably not a selfie or one that shows you in any state of intoxication, professionally captured if possible. Do the best you can to find and use a photo that you want to represent you to hiring managers, former colleagues, potential business partners – anyone that could be in your general, professional network.
  • Background image: You don’t really need one right away. Focus on other aspects of your profile first.
  • Links to external sites (website, Twitter, etc.): You also don’t need to do this, unless your social networks illustrate the professional image you want to put forth. My profile includes my Twitter handle but not my Facebook profile URL – I use Twitter, not Facebook, for professional endeavors.
  • Custom URL: LinkedIn assigns your profile a random URL, but you can customize it in editing mode. Do this. Beneath your profile picture, hover your cursor over the cog to the left of the URL you see and you’ll be able to enter a new URL. Use the version of your name that you use in your professional presence (i.e. my LinkedIn URL is
  • Title: This always is listed with your profile in news feeds, in any other users’ “People You May Know” lists, and at the top of your page – wherever a preview of your profile will appear. LinkedIn uses whatever you list as your current job as your default title, but in editing mode in your profile, you can list whatever you want. Mine says Corporate Communications Specialist, but when I was actively looking for a job that had anything to do with marketing communications, PR, writing, etc., my title was Marketing Communications Professional. You can get way creative here, of course, but remember: consider how your prospective connections will perceive your profile title.
  • Summary: This can be longer than a typical resume’s summary section – users expect others’ LinkedIn summary sections to share more of a story. You can shoot for a paragraph. The summary is also a good place to embed whatever keywords you want to use to make your profile searchable. Use keywords that you think recruiters will be using to look for folks in your industry (i.e. marketing, writer).
  • Experience: Similar to the summary section, you can either describe your work at different organizations in paragraph form, or use bullets. Also an opportunity to use the keywords used throughout your profile.
  • Other things to add: You can list information under Awards, Certifications, Volunteering, etc., which you’ll see as categories as you scroll down your profile in editing mode. Include things professionally relevant to how you want to present yourself.
  • Skills and Endorsements: This is a place for, in my opinion, folks early in their careers to list any professional skills they’d like to be made visible. Your LinkedIn connections are then prompted to “endorse” you for this skill when they log in to their own profiles. You’ll also be prompted to endorse others whenever you login to LinkedIn.
  • Recommendations: As you build your network, you may be asked by LinkedIn users/your connections to “recommend” them, via a LinkedIn message. Your recommendation would then appear on their profile, and be associated with a  specific job  or project or refer to them in general, depending on the request of the user. This is a lot more valuable than a simple endorsement on LinkedIn because it shows that someone took the time to write a message to commend someone else’s work.
  • Finding connections: As you establish yourself, you’ll encounter several requests from other users to connect. You can either accept or deny them (I’d strongly recommend the latter if you don’t know who these people are or have any mutual connections). To build connections: on the home page, there’s a section in the top right that lists People You May Know. You can scroll through this section to find people you may (or may not) want to connect with. These users are pulled as mutual connections or having some sort of relevance to the work experience you list.


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