Illustration: Izabella Balcerzak

Make the most out of your LinkedIn profile

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By Sylvia Lorico

With over 400 million users in 200 different countries, LinkedIn, a networking website, is quickly becoming a way for students to meet with career-minded professionals and showcase their skills online. LinkedIn is far more than just an online resume tool. From establishing yourself as an expert in the field to landing your dream job, when used effectively, you can reap the rewards for your career. Ready to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile? Here are some tips and tricks to maximize your experience.

1. Tend to your profile

Think of LinkedIn as a child that needs nourishment and love to be successful. Spend a few minutes per day or pop on the website a few times a week to build your presence online. Add new examples of your projects, participate in conversations and share articles relevant to you. Your activity will show up on other people’s pages, making you look like an expert while increasing your visibility.

2. Fill in all the blanks

Did you volunteer for a public speaking event recently? Add it in. Won an award for best design in your faculty? Put it on LinkedIn. While this may seem excessive, a 2011 LinkedIn survey found that 42 per cent of hiring managers consider volunteer work equivalent to actual work. Any experience or awards will give your profile a needed boost.

3. Link to other media outlets

Always try to have posts that link to other media like YouTube, Twitter or even a personal blog. Linking to other platforms is a way of demonstrating to employers that you are knowledgeable in social media, a powerful tool in our technology-driven world.

4. Use the groups

Like Facebook, LinkedIn has “groups” that users can join based on their interests and affiliations. They are one of the best places to pick up advice from experts and like-minded people. To maximize your networking experience in these spaces, try to voice some intelligent answers to questions raised in the discussion area. We recommend joining a minimum of 10 groups based on your professional field to increase your chances of landing a paid position.

5. Use keywords, not buzzwords

Avoid using “buzzwords” like passionate, motivated and driven. Instead, focus on terms specific to your field that can be found easily through search engine optimization. For example, if you are in marketing, mention various channels within a field like “e-commerce.” Recruiters tend to use keywords to search for candidates.

6. Endorse carefully

The “recommend” feature on LinkedIn can act as an online reference and be incredibly helpful, depending on who you connect with. Looking to get some recommendations? At the end of any project or job, send whoever hired you a link to your profile and ask them to leave a comment you can use for future employers.

7. Take the time to proofread

A messy profile—like a messy resumé—is going to be easily dismissed. Spend some time editing your work, then send it to two or three grammar-picky friends for a read. Having a fresh pair of eyes can help you catch mistakes you could have overlooked.

8. Organize your contacts

You can attach tags (keywords or phrases) to each person in your contact list. Use them to clarify which relationships you want to develop. For example, you can tag contacts as “prospects” in order to remind yourself that you plan to reach out or work with them in the future. All tags that are added to your contact list are private, so this tool is an excellent way to remind yourself who to contact for each project or job opportunity.

9. Add a company page

If you happen to already work for a company or if you are starting your own business, LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to create a page and link it to your personal profile. It serves as a great endorsement and makes what you do look more legitimate.

10. Be polite

Your LinkedIn is not a Facebook chat, it’s a valuable tool to connect with other professionals. Personalize your messages when you reach out, and remember the golden rule—treat others as you want to be treated!

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