LinkedIn is one of the most widely used Internet professional networking sites, with thousands of new users joining each day. You can join at no cost, set up your profile and start benefiting from LinkedIns many networking services, which include building a convenient virtual rolodex of your professional contacts, providing updates on your own professional activities, sharing your blog posts via your profile, joining groups of professionals with similar interests and best of all, providing and receiving recommendations.
But the key to success on LinkedIn is your profile, which is in essence a virtual resume. Simply inserting your name (or only part of it), your current job title and place of employment will not maximize your virtual presence on LinkedIn, or open the door to many new networking opportunities, which may include job searching, locating speakers or article contributors for your professional association, or developing relationships with colleagues and experts in your field.
Your LinkedIn profile should reflect your best “professional face and accomplishments, and be edited as carefully as your print resume. In some ways, your LinkedIn profile is more powerful than a print resume, especially if you have obtained recommendations from your colleagues, and want to present a lot of relevant professional information in a straightforward, easy-to-read format that can be viewed by the public, or provided to others with a single customized profile URL with your name.
Maximize your LinkedIn Profile by:
- Displaying your full name
- Including a professional headshot (so your contacts can place a face with your name)
- Writing a brief but interesting (and grammatically correct) summary of your professional experience and accomplishments to date, and emphasizing relevant professional information not contained elsewhere in the profile
- Listing all current job titles in your professional headline (if you have more than one)
- Listing all of your jobs by title, employer, dates of employment and duties (refer to your print resume if necessary)
- Listing your education by college, degree and years attended
- Including relevant websites, such as your employers website and your professional blog
- Including your groups and associations (not just your LinkedIn groups)
- Listing honors and awards (which is a good place to include publications and presentations)
Like your print resume, keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. Even if you are happy in your current employment, none of us have a lifetime contract or guarantee that our circumstances wont change without warning, making your professional network indispensable. LinkedIn also offers so much more than employment networking. You never know who may contact you to contribute to a professional publication, invite you to speak at a seminar, inform you about the latest developments in your field, or otherwise expand your professional horizons.
Prior Practical Paralegalism entries about the benefits of LinkedIn:
Making the Case for Internet Networking Sites, LinkedIn and Facebook
Paralegal Student Uses LinkedIn to Seek Internship