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How to Improve My LinkedIn Profile

Up Your LinkedIn Game With These 5 Networking Tips

As job hunting shifts to the online space, it's vital to know how best to position yourself online and network on the web. Not doing so can mean losing out on career opportunities and facing a harder uphill battle when competing against male job seekers for desirable positions.

To get started on workin' your web contacts, read these five dos from Krista Canfield, the senior PR manager for LinkedIn:

  • Do add a photo to your LinkedIn profile. If you add a photo, you're seven times more likely to have people view your profile. Adding a photo is also important if you're reaching out to people you've lost touch with. People never forget a face. (Especially if you changed your last name when you got married. A college classmate or former boss may remember you as Karen Harris, not Karen Smith, so a photo will jog their memory.)
  • Do find mentors and build out your peer network. Since you can easily search for people by title on LinkedIn (and also narrow those searches down by location, company, and even by the school they attended so you can find alums), it's easy to find peers who have the same title as you or potential mentors who are a level or two above you. Psyched about your raise but feeling a bit overwhelmed by the massive workload your new promotion netted you? That's where an awesome peer or mentor can help out. Rather than telling your boss you're having a tough time juggling your new responsibilities, ping some of your mentors or peers for advice.

Read on for more LinkedIn dos to keep in mind.

  • Do update your profile regularly. When was the last time you googled yourself? Your profile comes up high in search results for your name, so make sure your first online impression packs a punch. Update your profile when you nab a promotion or switch jobs. If you recently took a class or got a certification, make sure that info is on your profile too. Have you learned new skills in the past year? Make sure they're listed on your profile. Keep your profile updated, even when you're not looking for a job, since clients or partners may be searching for someone like you. Having a current profile can also help you land your dream job when you least expect it. Sixty-nine of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn to find top-notch passive job candidates (that's recruiter /HR lingo for people who aren't on job boards or actively looking for a new gig). If you only have your current position listed on your profile, then you may look like a professional who only has a year of experience, if that's how long you've been in your current role. That's why it's important to add your previous work history to your profile. You are 12 times more likely to be viewed for potential opportunities if you have more than one position listed on your profile.
  • Do branch out and make new connections outside your comfort zone. Just because you're in sales doesn't mean you should only join sales-related groups. Do you have a passion for environmental issues? Join a group like Green on LinkedIn so you can show your support of green business practice and network with other people who are just as passionate about those issues. Do you love your iPhone or your new iPad? Join a group like the iPhone iPad Group on LinkedIn, where you can learn tips and ways to customize your gadgets from other fanatics. Joining different or new professional circles will help you meet other people and also open the door to other opportunities. Look at groups as miniconferences where you can learn about business topics you're interested in or curious about.
  • Do take matters into your own hands. Just having a profile isn't enough. You have to be proactive too. Follow companies on LinkedIn that you're interested in so you get updates when people join a company (perhaps you now have a second-degree contact who works at Glamour), when people leave a company (maybe that marketing position at Sephora is open now), and when companies post jobs. Ask questions on LinkedIn Answers that will help you make career decisions. (What is it really like to be a VP of marketing? Do you have any advice for uncovering new clients? What's the best way to ask your boss for a raise? How do I get a job overseas?)
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