As we all know by now, not every social media platform is created equal. We use Facebook for our very personal profiles and company pages, Twitter as a way to express our immediate emotions about the news of the day or Real Housewives, and Instagram to display our pretty lives in image form.  What does that mean for LinkedIn? LinkedIn, the very welcome home to recent college graduates, industry experts and recruiters, has its own set of rules to follow.

These aren’t your everyday “on Wednesday we wear pink” rules; these rules are meant to help put your best professional foot forward and fully take advantage of this career-defining platform.

Rule #1: It’s All About the Photo

Your profile photo is the centerpiece of your LinkedIn page. How do you want to put yourself out there in the professional world? Most importantly, make sure your profile photo is professional. Professional on LinkedIn is a step above the level of professionality needed for Twitter. Your LinkedIn photo should be a clear face picture where you are the only subject. You may think it’s over the top to have a full on photoshoot for your LinkedIn profile, but you should aim to imitate this sort of setting. The best way to do this is to make sure the photo is from your shoulders up and an accurate representation of how you look in the workforce.

For company pages, it is very important to make sure the company profile photos are clear, high-quality logos that can be easily read on a mobile or desktop. A company that takes the time to produce content intended for LinkedIn needs to make sure their branding is consistent with their website and setting the standard for the quality of their company overall.

Rule #2: Complete Your Profile

This rule could be a whole other blog post in itself. It is important that your profile demonstrates your professional abilities with pride. Make sure all of your relevant work history is listed, skills are easily defined and your education section is completely filled out. For bonus points, wow connections using the “Additional Info” section of your profile to show a little bit more of your personality. A short summary is also important for many reasons. Your summary is a way to tell your connections who you are and where you are going. Use industry keywords and add your personality to make yourself really standout.

Having a complete profile shows your connections you mean business. More importantly, it encourages your colleagues to write recommendations and further interact with your page. From a company’s perspective, having employees with complete profiles will display your company and employee’s talents in the best light possible.

Rule #3: Choose Your Messaging Wisely

Be sure to post content and updates that are beneficial to your connections and followers. LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter where you have the freedom to say anything that is on your mind. Keep your messaging limited to your industry and use your messaging to show your followers your interests and knowledge in your field. LinkedIn is not a place for posting political updates or long statuses expressing events that occurred throughout your day.  

Rule #4: Take Your Connections Seriously

A huge misconception about LinkedIn is that the more connections you have the better. While this is true to a certain extent, LinkedIn connections — like most of the important things in life — are about quality not quantity. What good is having 500+ followers if you don’t talk to? Making connections with professionals in like-minded industries is what LinkedIn does best. You want to be sure that whoever you are connected to on LinkedIn is someone you would be comfortable networking with in real life.

In other words, only connect with people you know. It looks spammy when someone receives an invitation from a complete stranger.

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful networking tool so it is important to use it to its full potential. Make sure to continually follow companies that interest you, connect with people you know, and interact with content you connect with. Make yourself known on this social platform as someone who knows their industry and wants to learn more.

No matter what stage of career you are in, LinkedIn is a great social networking tool to combat the negative stereotypes of social media and put your best face forward online.

 

Author Bio: Tyler Cotman is the Social Media Manager at Main Path Marketing. From a professional standpoint, Tyler enjoys using social media to help clients hone their messaging and find/ interact with their target audience. As for his personal social media habits, Tyler spends his time live-tweeting award shows and Instagramming photos of the beach. You can find Tyler on Twitter @tycotman.

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Stevee Newbold • 2 years ago

Four excellent points most eloquently expressed. Made me feel bad about going on about bad political examples, just before I saw this article. I have no doubt your organization is the real deal, by the clear example you set herein.
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Stephen • 2 years ago

Like many other small business owners, I've been on LinkedIn for years. And I often wondered why I bothered, because I seemed to get nothing from it except the occasional notification that company XYZ was looking for somebody with my talents. I am not recruiting, nor want to be recruited, and really had no idea how to use LinkedIn for anything else. I didn't realize its other uses, which you've described above. Perhaps it's time I took another look at LinkedIn. Thanks for the wake-up call.
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