A while ago, we wrote about why new grads should get LinkedIn. What if you are a professional that is already hired and has been working for years? Since Facebook isn’t the appropriate social medium for most office and business relationships  (you don’t really want your boss or co-workers seeing photos from your friends bachelor party, do you?), a LinkedIn gives you a better place to interact and ‘get social’ with work contacts, and also allows you to keep your eye on interesting job opportunities as they come up.

Here’s s step-by-step guide to getting started with LinkedIn if you still haven’t taken advantage of this social network.

Create a LinkedIn Account

Go to LinkedIn.com and set up a profile. It’s really easy to navigate and get started.

Upload a Profile Picture

Once you have your profile, be sure that the photo you put up is appropriate. No party pics. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional network, therefore make sure your photo is professional, and preferably an inviting one of you smiling. Put your best face forward.

Fill Out All Sections

LinkedIn will ask for a lot of information. You might wonder whether you really need to fill everything out. Do it. Add your education, honors and awards, current and past jobs. The trick is to keep everything short and simple. Don’t rewrite your resume, but add enough information to get the important details across to potential employers. The more info you add, the more likely you will come up in searches if a recruiters or potential employers are looking for your skill set, or a co-worker from your past tries to get in touch with you.

Ask For and Provide Recommendations

You never know what might happen down the line in your career. LinkedIn allows you to get a recommendation from a current employee while you are still working at a particular company, showcasing your skills. If you are asked to provide a recommendation for someone, be sure to ask if they’ll provide one for you as well. They don’t call it social media for nothing.

Add Website Links

Rather than just having the links LinkedIn provides, customize them by inserting direct links to your blog, Twitter and Facebook profiles. If you have your own website or online portfolio, link to it here. If you dont have one yet, if you like, you can create a link to an about.me page.

Join a Group or Start a New One

Groups are great for getting involved in the community. They are also great if you are on the lookout for a new job and have your sites set on a particular company. Join that company’s group on LinkedIn, comment on their posts and showcase your expertise. Down the line if you make it to an interview be sure to mention you read the company’s LinkedIn posts. It could score you some points with the hiring manager. Even if you aren’t interested in switching jobs, groups are a great place to show everyone that you know your stuff, as well as a great spot to hold polls to get feedback from the online community.

Optimize Your Profile

If you are in a profession that gets headhunted and you want to get found, be sure to add your job title and any important skills into your profile more than once. This is one of the easiest things to do to get found on LinkedIn. Use keywords that are part of your job title in as many sections on LinkedIn as you can. You don’t have to add every single keyword that describes your job, just focus on a few important ones. For example if you are a web developer, be sure to add in all the languages you know such as Java, C# etc. This will help you get found on the LinkedIn network if someone searches for that title or those particular skills. Try it now!


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