10 things you can (and should) do on LinkedIn

It’s all well and good to have your professional credentials there, but there’s enormous potential for beneficial connections—and more—if you follow these guidelines.

As LinkedIn’s user base continues to climb (currently 160-plus million members), you have more and more opportunities to connect with colleagues, clients, and prospects, not to mention establishing your industry expertise and pursuing business development initiatives.

Although LinkedIn is simple to use, what’s truly fascinating about the site is that it offers a range of functionality if you dig beneath the surface. The good news? We’ve done the heavy lifting for you and have compiled a tip list of 10 things you should be doing on LinkedIn to get more out of this professional networking site.

Expand your search. As with any social site, one of the key components of LinkedIn is conversation. If you want to find out who’s discussing a particular topic, click the drop-down menu next to the Search box and select Updates. Enter your preferred search term, and you’ll receive a list of users whose status updates match your search.

Optimize your URL. Your default LinkedIn URL is a hard-to-remember mix of numbers and letters. Instead, choose a custom URL for your public profile. Not only will it be easy to remember, but it will also help Google pull up more results when your name is searched. To customize your profile URL, click Profile > Edit Profile > and, next to Public Profile in the gray box, click Edit. Specify your name, and click Set Custom URL.

Post content to groups. As you find (or write) content that you want to share, make sure you post it to specific LinkedIn groups (as long as the subject matter is relevant to that particular group’s focus). Not only will you likely spark great discussion, but you’ll also keep yourself on that group’s radar screen, which could lead to new business opportunities.

Update your profile. Keeping your profile up to date doesn’t only make sense within the LinkedIn microcosm—it also helps Google, too. LinkedIn results typically rank high in Google search results, so the more information you include in your profile, the more often you’ll appear in a wider range of Google results.

Research your dream job. LinkedIn isn’t only a great tool for connecting with prospective employers—it’s ideal for research, too. If you aspire to work in a certain industry or have a specific job in mind, search that information in LinkedIn to find profiles of people who work in that area. You can read through the profiles to see what types of skills and expertise you’ll have, thereby allowing you to better prepare for your dream career.

Create your résumé. If you’ve been out of the job hunt for a while, you may not have an updated résumé that’s ready to go. So why not let LinkedIn do the work for you? Sign in to LinkedIn’s résumé builder, and follow the step-by-step instructions to use the information you’ve added to your LinkedIn profile to build a résumé. You can select from several templates and, when you’re done, can print your résumé and/or share to a number of different sites, including email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Maintain your company page. If your brand or business doesn’t already have a LinkedIn company page, now’s the time to create one. LinkedIn users will be able to stay up to date with current job opportunities and company information, and the page will showcase those employees who are on LinkedIn.

Aside from keeping your company page updated, make sure you also post regular status updates with relevant content that will encourage user comments and help people get a better sense of your company’s industry and expertise. You can also enable a sidebar tool that will pull in mentions of your company as they appear in news stories, as well as include your corporate blog feed (if applicable).

Find new employees. LinkedIn isn’t just great for job seekers—it can be a valuable recruiting tool for employees, too. LinkedIn offers a number of corporate recruiting solutions that are worth exploring if your company has ongoing recruiting needs. You can collect leads from a referral engine, for example, and distribute current job openings.

There’s an app for that. Enrich your LinkedIn profile by adding an application (or several). A couple of our favorites include the WordPress application, which lets you import your WordPress blog feed directly to your profile, and SlideShare, which embeds your SlideShare presentations so that visitors to your profile can look at your work.

Update your status. Regularly posting status updates is one of the best ways to stay visible in the LinkedIn stream. Discuss what’s going on in your business or industry, or share informative, relevant content that will be of interest to your LinkedIn connections. Plus, the more you share content, the more likely you’ll appear as part of LinkedIn Today’s daily digest, which will help boost your LinkedIn visibility.

There’s far more to LinkedIn than may initially meets the eye-and by using these tips and tricks, you’ll be poised to get more out of the professional network.

Shelly Kramer is the CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A version of this article originally appeared on the V3 Integrated Marketing blog.

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