Why Aren’t You on Linkedin Yet?

I’ve been asked by a few people recently what Linkedin is, how to use it and if I had any tips on making the most of it.  I started looking around for resources but then decided that I will just put one together myself.  This article will give you the basics to get going with Linkedin and I may go into more detail in future articles.

Linkedin is a social network for professionals, similar to Facebook and other social networks but this is mainly for building your personal business brand and network.  Whether you are looking for jobs, looking to network, meet potential clients or let people find you for all of the above, Linkedin can help.

To start, go to Linkedin.com, and fill out the form on the right to “Join Linkedin Today”.  They ask for your name, email address and password which will get you started so that you can start creating your profile.  They then take you through a setup wizard which asks you some more information to help you set up your profile properly.

The first thing they ask is what you are currently up to, such as whether you are employed, looking for work, working independently or a student.  You can fill out additional information based on the first answer and then click “create my profile.

Find your Connections – For the next step, they ask you for your email address and password so that they can tell you which of your friends is already on Linkedin so that you can connect with them.  If they are not on Linkedin yet, you can invite them to join.  You can “skip this step” with the link at the bottom of the box but I highly recommend that you start populating your connections as soon as possible.  After all, the more people you are connected to, the more you can get out of the site.

Confirm your email address – Linkedin then sends you an email to the address you used to create your profile, for you to confirm that it is a real email address and that you are the one who signed up.  Once that is done, a new window will open up and you can sign in.

Connect to more people – Once you are logged in, Linkedin asks you to enter email addresses of your colleagues and friends to further build your network.  You can skip this step as well by clicking “skip this step” at the bottom right of the box.

Account Level – The final step is deciding on a basic account or a premium account.  For beginners, there is no reason to get more that the basic.  You can upgrade at any point.

Congratulations! You now have an account but need to fill out your profile.  Click on “profile” in the top menu and it will give you a chance to add whatever information you want to have in your profile.  To encourage users to get the most out of the site, they have a “profile completeness” bar to the right of your profile that tells you how complete your profile is and what you can do to improve your it.

The following are some of the first things to do when creating your linkedin Profile:

Add a Headshot – This isn’t Facebook so make sure that you add a professional looking picture of yourself.  Having a headshot gives more life to your profile and people in general prefer seeing a picture when they are looking to connect.

Edit your Basic Info – Click on “edit” next to your name to edit your basic information.  I suggest changing your “Professional Headline” from your industry to something that better describes you, makes you stick out and encourages others to view your profile.

Add a Current Position – If you are working, add your company name, your title, location, the time period that you’ve been there and a description.  Use the description as you would on your resume by describing what you do and what benefits you bring to your company.

Add a Past Position – Do the same as you did for your current position for any past positions you may have had.

Add your Education – Here you can add any schools you’ve attended, degrees you’ve obtained and any other activities that demonstrate your skills and who you are.

Add a Summary – If you skip down the page a little, click on “Add  Summary” to add a summary of your skills, abilities or experience.  When companies are looking for specific skills for their next hire, this is often the first place they check when viewing your profile.

If you have done all of the above, you should be at 50% for profile completeness.  I would say that this is the minimum amount of information to have in your profile.  You can then start adding additional information to your profile such as a company or personal website if you have one or a Twitter handle.

Add some Recommendations – The last thing that is a must do for your profile is getting some recommendations.  Look through your connections and find someone who  knows you well to write a recommendation of your work.  You can get colleagues, old bosses, college professors or friends, I suggest as many as possible.  Just click on “ask for recommendations” and fill out the form.  Linkedin makes it very easy to ask since by filling out the form, you are technically telling your connection exactly what you are looking for.

If this has been helpful, let me know in the comments.  If there are any other areas of Linkedin that you would like to learn about, let me know as well.  This article gave the basics of setting up your profile.  The next Linkedin article will talk about growing your network.

You can connect with me at http://linkedin.com/in/lehrer