LinkedIn is a great social media site for business professionals and entrepreneurs. When used correctly, it allows you to market yourself or your company. However, many fail to use it in this way; instead, they turn it into another online resume. Below is a list of do’s and don’ts for LinkedIn users.

The Do’s

  1. 1.       Reevaluate your goals

Since this isn’t necessarily a resume, what you’ve done isn’t as essential as what you plan to do. When keeping track of your goals on the site, be sure to insert field-specific keywords. This is how companies find you. Be both general and specific. You want to be easy to find, but you also want to stand out.

  1. 2.       Blend in keywords

Headlines are important when it comes to search results, so make sure your most relevant keyword is in the headline. This shouldn’t necessarily be the most searched keyword; again, you want it to be specific to you. Scan the body of your profile and replace vague descriptions with keywords.

  1. 3.       Get Rid of Excess

Like many people, you probably changed jobs or even occupations several times throughout the years. If it’s not relevant, you shouldn’t be talking about it. Perhaps you were a teacher ten years ago but are currently in public relations; you don’t need to share teaching details if they aren’t relevant now.  Include the basics in your work history and leave it at that.

  1. 4.       Find Recommendations

A comment on your personality and work ethic means a lot more coming from a former employer than it does from you. Find recommendations from reliable sources and use them to flesh out your profile.

The Don’ts

  1. 1.       Post an Unprofessional Photo

A common error is using a blurry, cell phone picture, but this isn’t the worst offense. Too much skin, group photos, and shiny bald heads make the list as well. If you don’t have a professional looking profile picture, hire a photographer to take publicity photos.

  1. 2.       Use Saccharine Sweet Recommendations

Don’t use a recommendation from your grandmother or anyone that sounds like her. You want to include recommendations that detail specific responsibilities and actions you took to improve work quality.

  1. 3.       Link to a Personal Page

Your LinkedIn page showcases your professional goals. It should never include any personal information or link to a website where someone can find this information. Blogs and Facebook pages are taboo, unless they are business pages.

  1. 4.       Include Misspellings

It’s hard to trust someone’s credibility or work ethic when they can’t be bothered to proofread their work. Read over your profile several times, and have a friend or colleague proofread it.

Your LinkedIn profile should display your professionalism and your career aspirations. It shouldn’t read as a list of accomplishments or a generic resume.

Guest author Michael Conners works for Subtle Network, a Clearwater printer.  He regularly uses LinkedIn to find potential employees; Michael has a lot of experience with both good and bad LinkedIn profiles.

photo credit: LinkedIn Chocolates by Nan Palmero