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5 Tips for Getting the Most out of LinkedIn ...

By Melinda

In business, networking is important. Even if you have a job, maintaining and cultivating professional relationships should never cease. Social networking goes beyond merely connecting with friends. There is also an online platform specifically geared towards business professionals, too.

Think of LinkedIn as a way to showcase your achievements and experience – an online resume of sorts -- highlighting so much more of your personality than the impersonal and bland nature of a resume. The site is a great tool for finding a job if you are unemployed or looking for new work. Here are five tips to get the most out of LinkedIn.

1 Complete Your Profile

Your profile page contains everything that someone needs to know about you – both personally and professionally. When complete, you have a summary of your experience, professional goals and even a picture that puts a face with the person behind the profile. Be sure to add your full list of qualifications, education and complete work experience.

2 Network

Locate past and current coworkers, colleagues, classmates, career counselors, mentors, as well as any educational contacts, such as professors. Search for employees that work in your self-described “dream job” company and regularly maintain contact. Use the “people you may know” feature often to find even more suggestions. Then, once these people are added to your network, keep in touch!

3 Use Groups

It’s one thing to join groups, but you need to be active in them as well. Look for communities specific to your industry and actively participate, including ways for your network to keep in contact with YOU. A blog link with posts is a great way to drive traffic to your site, as well as showcase your online portfolio – potentially gaining future work, for instance, if you are a freelancer.

4 Ask for Recommendations

Ask your connections to write recommendations based on your previous or current work. Don’t be shy to ask for them, as these favorable mentions lend to you credibility, thereby increasing your chances for getting a job or new work. Think of it as an online reference, without the pesky phone call.

5 Take Advantage of Link Opportunities

Links are incredibly useful in finding more information about a user. And adding an URL on your LinkedIn profile directs traffic to your professional blog, site or online portfolio to enhance your experience and reinforce your qualifications. There is also an option to connect your blog directly to your LinkedIn page that feeds your recent posts to your profile. And as mentioned previously, when you interact with your groups, always link back to your own sites.

It should go without saying, but remember to keep your posts professional on LinkedIn. If it doesn’t pertain to your business, company or work life, then leave those status updates, photos and extra-curricular activities for more personal “friends” networks, such as Facebook or MySpace. Always conduct yourself online as if you are interviewing for your next job (even if you’re not currently looking). And once your profile is complete, start connecting!

How do you feel about including your LinkedIn profile link on your professional documents, email signature and portfolio?

Top Photo Credit: smi23le

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