Want to Improve Your Image? LinkedIn Can Help

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 Want to Improve Your Image? LinkedIn Can Help

The site's user-friendly interface lets professionals set up an account and build a network of friends, colleges, and clients, then connect with professionals in their networks. The site is free and easy to join, but can seem at times a little overwhelming. Luckily, whether you're networking online or face-to-face, the same rules apply. Here are a few familiar tips to help you make the most of LinkedIn:

Make Your First Impression a Good One
Your profile will be the first thing that other LinkedIn users see when they arrive at your page. It will also be available, in limited form, to anyone who searches for you online. The more frequently people visit your LinkedIn site, the more quickly your public profile raises in Google search results. At a minimum, your profile should be accurate and up-to-date. You'll also want to be sure to include a profile picture: not only will it put new contacts at ease, but it will also allow for easier recognition when you do meet face-to-face.

Keep Your Pitch Short and Clear
Your profile page is divided into sections. The most important of these is the summary. Your marketing company can help you develop a clear summary of your business idea or project plan, one that will quickly capture the attention of potential contacts and let them know why they want to connect with you.

Your profile should also include an experience & education section, which will look a lot like a traditional resume, and an additional information section, where you can list awards and memberships in professional associations and provide links to your company's website or professional blogs.

Do not Wait for Others to Come to You
Your first step will be to connect with current and former collections and clients. The simplest way to reach out is to search for contacts by name. But you can also perform an "advanced people search" (under the "More" tab) that lets you find a specific person based on a combination of factors, including industry, company, title, school, or location, even if you're not sure of their full names.

To get others to contact you, you may want to join one of the site's Groups, which can put you in touch with others who share your interests or professional or educational background. Joining a group connects you with colleges and potential clients, letting you learn best practices while also reaching out to those interested in your services.

If you do not find a group on the site that meets your interests, work with your marketing company to develop a short description and a logo – LinkedIn allows users to add groups to the site.

Ask Good Questions and Make Yourself A Resource
Make use of the site's Answers forum. Posting a question here invites feedback from colleges and industry experts. You can also offer answers to questions posted by others. LinkedIn even provides members with "expert points" for each question they answer, and maintains a list of "experts."

While the same rules apply whether you're networking online or in person, there are some undeniable advantages to online business networking. While we've provided a brief outline of the site here, you'll find even more resources provided by LinkedIn if you sign up. In the past six months alone, more than ten million users have joined. And none of them are looking at your shoes.

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