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I first joined LinkedIn because I felt like I had to.

It was 2007, I had just graduated from college and started my first job, and LinkedIn provided a platform that — unlike my Facebook profile — I could safely use to connect with colleagues. I joined, added my basic information, asked a few coworkers for recommendations, then generally ignored the site for many years following.

I think most people did the same. LinkedIn has only recently gained popularity as a professional (and now, much more social) network, but the site has been around for over 10 years. It wasn’t until a few years ago that LinkedIn really began to gain footing and an active user base as it released very useful new features.

In its simplest form, LinkedIn is the digital version of the classic paper resume — but it’s so much more than that, too. When properly utilized LinkedIn can act as the hub for all of your professional activity, including job history, professional recommendations, endorsements, work examples, a portfolio of your published writing, status updates, and “clickable” content, such as links to your website or social media profiles.

Hopefully, you know the basics of winning at LinkedIn: complete your profile (using relevant keywords), follow your favorite companies, ask for recommendations, and connect with the right people.

Here’s a few additional things you need to know to fully take advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer:

Post Regularly
Don’t be like me back in 2007. Don’t just update your profile and walk away. Utilize the platform! LinkedIn will very conveniently prompt you to complete your profile whenever you log in, asking you to add “Volunteer Experience” or update your headline, for instance. Unlike with a personal website or a resume, you are being told exactly what to share to draw the attention of potential employers and prospective connections. Take advantage of it.

It’s also important to stay on the radar of your connections by posting quality content and posting it often. LinkedIn is moving more and more toward the format of more oft-used social networking platforms, wherein you can share updates, upload photos, or publish a piece of writing directly from the dashboard. You can also like and comment on the content posted by your connections.

Check in with LinkedIn as often as you scroll through Twitter or Instagram, taking the time to connect with colleagues and companies in your industry. Soon, you’ll find that they’re eager to connect with you, too.

Establish Yourself As Thought Leader
LinkedIn is the perfect place to show off more of your personality and intellectual property. Much like on a personal website, you can use LinkedIn to build your thought leadership, posting on topics ranging from new data and statistics to your latest successful marketing campaign to your personal experience at a popular tradeshow.

LinkedIn is the perfect place to show off more of your personality and intellectual property.

Use their publishing platform to share your best long-form writing on topics in your industry. Conveniently, your posts will automatically be featured on your profile, as well as on the News Feed of every LinkedIn connection.

You might create original content for LinkedIn or you might share content that you’ve written for your blog — either way, LinkedIn’s publishing platform gives you the opportunity to round out your profile and get your content in front of a much wider audience … for free.

Create A Portfolio
It’s just like your math teacher always told you: Show your work.

LinkedIn has great, built-in features that allow you to build a portfolio within the site. In addition to anything you’ve written through their proprietary publishing platform, you can add links and descriptions to articles you’ve written on any other site (under their Publications heading). You can also share projects you’ve worked on (including images, videos, and slideshows), certifications, patents, honors and awards, and more.

Take advantage of this section. Your experience tells a prospective employer what you’ve done; your portfolio shows it.

* * *

Hiring managers and recruiters have been using LinkedIn — and its proprietary tool, LinkedIn Recruiter — to find potential employees from day one. Now, the platform is better than ever, combining the professional (work experience, education, skills) with the personal (URLs, degrees of separation between connections, digital networking) in one, easy-to-use platform. For the job-hunter, and really anyone, a complete LinkedIn profile is the perfect home for all things professional.

Do you utilize your LinkedIn profile? Why or why not?

Images via Morgan Ashley Photography


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