Taking just a few steps on LinkedIn can greatly benefit your job and career. Work your way thought this list and you’re well on your way to using this social media tool to your advantage:

  1. Complete your profile.  Fill in your background summary, current and previous positions, your academic backgrounds and contact information.  Kudos to those who add more information such as professional honors, organizations and certifications.
  2. Add a photo. No one wants to be the one with a shadow outline for a profile photo. Add a professional photo, without dogs or children.
  3. Write a compelling background summary. Write your background summary in third person. Draft it once then go back to it once or twice to tweak it and make sure it captures what you want others to understand about you and your capabilities. Make sure it mentions your role and responsibilities. This is your brand. Craft it carefully and don’t be afraid to periodically adjust it.
  4. Post status updates. This could be sharing an article, letting people know you’re at a particular industry event or giving your quick opinion about an industry issue. This gets your name in front of those who follow you and shows that you are active and connected in the industry. Keep it professional. Keep it short. Once a week is good. Once a day is better.
  5. Join groups. One way to get exposure is to join industry groups and start or comment on discussions. Depending on the group you can get an overview as to key areas of interest at any point and time. Know that some groups are plagued by vendors selling products.  Sometimes you have to sift through these for the more useful content. Another benefit of joining groups is that you increase your search reach. If you’re trying to find someone you’ll have more access to their information and be able to connect with them easier if the two of you are in the same group.
  6. Join the alumni groups for your current and previous employers. Use this to reach out to former employees who can keep you connected with different companies.
  7. Link to people.  Seek out peers, vendors, current customers, former customers, potential customer, and industry influencers. When you click on “Connect,” customize your note and use it to strengthen your relationship. Avoid using the default “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”