social media how toAre you wondering how to get the most from LinkedIn? Over the last few months, the LinkedIn network has made upgrades and undergone changes.

If you already have a profile created on LinkedIn, it’s a great time to revisit and refresh your presence!

Or if you’re just wondering how to get started, these 5 simple steps will help you make the most of your time and effort!

Why LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is the largest professional social network online today, with over 100 million professional users. The average household income of LinkedIn users is over $88,000 per year, which outpaces the average income for the readership of the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Business Week!

If you are a professional or a business owner, you can’t afford to miss out on the opportunity to build relationships with potential customers, clients, partners and peers on LinkedIn. It’s a powerful audience that you can engage, interact with and influence.

#1: Complete your LinkedIn “profile box.”

When visitors first land on your LinkedIn profile, a box displaying your profile highlights fills the screen. Given the importance of first impressions, the information in your “profile box” should be complete, current and optimized.

This is your best chance to make a good impression. In many cases, someone may read through your entire profile, but most people are going to get the information they need from your profile box.


Here are the steps to complete your LinkedIn Profile.

Upload a professional image. This is your very best opportunity to make a great first impression and is essential to attracting connections. No professional photo? No credibility.

Create a compelling headline. You only have 120 characters at the top of your profile to describe who you are, whom you serve and how you help. Use brief, descriptive, compelling keywords so the right professionals on LinkedIn can discover you. Focus on terms that your target markets are more likely to search for. What language do they use? Make your headline text compelling, but use words that resonate with your market.

List your current position and at least two past positions. If you don’t list at least two past positions, your profile won’t be considered “complete,” which can mean missed opportunities to be discovered by prospective clients and customers. Make sure to describe each of your roles in depth, and again use those keywords that will resonate with your target markets! It is also okay to list two or three positions that describe your current role, as I have done in my own profile.

Add your education information. List colleges and the high school you attended in this area. Why? One of the primary search tools within LinkedIn is the ability to locate people with whom you attended school. This is a potential connection point that can open doors for you.

Customize your “website” listings. Under the Websites section of your LinkedIn profile, you can have up to three listed. Choose the “Other” option when setting up each of these links and describe the links to your brand with relevant terms. For example, rather than using the phrase “my website,” I use “Smart Social Pro Blog.” Not only is this more descriptive, it also gives me a better opportunity to rank for those keywords in search.

Include a link to your Twitter profile. Add your Twitter handle to your LinkedIn profile. Visitors to your profile can now follow you on Twitter directly from within your profile box! LinkedIn and Twitter are tightly integrated. You can share your tweets as LinkedIn status updates (best practice: add #in to the end of specific tweets rather than choosing to send all tweets to LinkedIn), and you can share LinkedIn status updates as tweets!

Edit your “vanity” LinkedIn URL. An example is This will enable your LinkedIn profile link to show up in search results under your name on all the major search engines! It is important to claim those results for your name as they provide a gateway into your personal brand.

Following these seven tips will ensure that you put your best foot forward with a comprehensive snapshot of who you are, what you do and where people can learn more about you. Your LinkedIn profile should serve as one of your most valuable professional digital assets.

#2: Use keywords within your profile summary section

The summary section on your LinkedIn profile is where you have the most flexibility to expand upon who you are, whom you serve and how you help your clients. Although this section is not as visible as your “profile box,” it’s still important.


Write the text in your summary section in the first person, as if you were talking directly to potential clients. Begin with “My name is…” Why? Because your name is a keyword, and this provides a simple introduction to your story. Your summary section should include keywords that describe how you help your clients in language that resonates with them! Try to stay away from industry jargon if possible. Also, don’t stuff your summary section with keywords. Simply use effective keywords and phrases where they fit.

Hint: The “specialties” section of the summary is a great place to list your areas of expertise using descriptive keywords.

#3: Leverage your existing natural network

Your existing contacts—your “natural” network—can provide a rich online networking experience and can help you quickly ramp up your visibility. This foundation network is key to creating a powerful presence on LinkedIn!

To uncover all of your connection opportunities, go to “Add Connections” in your navigation menu, which is listed under “Contacts.”


Thoroughly review LinkedIn’s connection channels.

There are four natural connection channels provided by LinkedIn. Make sure to go through all four connection channels to make sure you find all potential connections who can be a part of your network.

Regardless of how many connections you may already have on LinkedIn, it’s worth your while to go through this exercise monthly because membership growth continues to be very strong on LinkedIn!

see who you know

  1. Send a LinkedIn invitation to connect to existing contacts though the “Add Connections” feature.
  2. Review colleagues from your current and past work experience and send invitations to connect.
  3. Find classmates from high school and college to connect with.
  4. Review the “People You May Know” list. This is LinkedIn’s connection suggestion engine!

#4: Focus on timely and relevant status updates

LinkedIn is a professional business network; therefore, it’s busy during business hours! You should strive to be visible and valuable during that time. Your status updates should add value to your target markets.

A best practice is to update your status two to three times daily. Also, spread out your updates rather than posting them all at once.

A fantastic tool for adding value in your industry is to take advantage of LinkedIn Today. This is LinkedIn’s top news tool available right there inside the network. You can customize your news updates by industry and easily share relevant stories with your connections. Top news is surfaced by the people, not by an editorial staff! Learn how to use LinkedIn Today to find popular content.

linkedin today

See articles shared by your connections, save articles and follow industries.

#5: Join and participate in groups

LinkedIn Groups recently got a major upgrade with the new LinkedIn mobile application. You can now participate in group discussions on the go. This is a great way to remain visible and valuable in your target markets.

Strive to review and participate in group discussions at least once per week. You can join up to 50 groups, but your time will be best spent focusing on three to five at most. Otherwise it will be difficult to keep up with all of the conversations.


By visiting the “Groups” tab on your LinkedIn navigation menu, you can easily find groups to join, access existing groups that you belong to, review and follow existing discussions that you are a part of, and view “groups you may like” suggestions from LinkedIn. In addition, you can use the LinkedIn search function to find groups.

Join groups that are relevant to your business and target markets. For example, if you have a local business, look for groups that are organized around where you live or work! Consider joining alumni groups, peer groups and groups that are organized around professional and personal topics that you are most interested in.

Lastly, think about groups where your target markets might be hanging out so you can find ways to be creatively visible and valuable to them with the resources and insights you share.

Share relevant, resourceful, rich content with your groups that can help other members. Ask questions and respond to comments! Learn more about effectively participating in LinkedIn Groups.

Final Thoughts

There are so many features and tools available with LinkedIn. It is essentially a networking treasure chest for any businessperson, filled with opportunities to deepen existing relationships, meet new professionals and add value to members of your target markets. To take advantage of all of these opportunities, it is important to spend time learning as much as you can.

I hope that these five steps will help you maximize value and minimize time as you ramp up your LinkedIn presence.

What do you think? Could your LinkedIn presence use an overhaul, or are you just getting started on LinkedIn? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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  • kkwiatko

    Great information.  I made a lot of these changes as I listened to your social media makeover webinar last week, and I continued to tweak this morning.  One other change I made last week was the name I used on my profile.  I’ve always used my full name (Katherine) in professional settings, but when I Googled it, I noticed a lot of people with the same name appeared. My short name (Kathi) is on all of my social media profiles, so I updated it on LinkedIn as well.  It’s a little thing, but it’s important to be consistent.

  • Kathi I think that was a smart move to use your short name! I have the same issue with Steph and Stephanie and have used both depending on the situation. Glad you got some tips from the makeover as well!

  • Great advice.  Not only can LinkedIN bring you business, it’s a great place to find a new job.  Just about every day I see blog posts suggesting HR folks use this tool to help find new hires.  I find the groups particularly engaging and useful.

    I might add to your excellent suggestions with one of my own — get recommendations.  There’s nothing like social proof to give viewers confidence in your abilities.

  • Sebastian Latina

    Great article.  LinkedIn is a great place to network with successful people as you mentioned that the average income for LinkedIn members are higher than average.  I was in the process of updated my profile with linkedIn, this article could’ve not come at a better time.  Thank you! 🙂

  • I wonder if #5 is as hot as it was … oh say 6 months ago! In many of the 50 groups i am a member of, most of the conversation seems to be one-way: everyone is trying to sell to everyone else. As an example, a small business group today had 97 discussion items and only 21 comments (or replies) and 1 “like”. This means that only 1 in 5 discussions is generating real interest. Hence my hypothesis. What is your take?

    But i do agree with you – Lnkdn is still a great resource. All your other tips are spot on.

  • Angela, good point about recommendations. I don’t know that they carry as much weight as we might think, but it certainly helps to round out your profile!

  • I think it’s like anything else Bala, there are some great groups out there that are managed well but you do have to search for them. The ones that are managed well keep out spam, filter promotional content, and are selective about membership.

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  • Dimitri

    Stephanie, good advice! but how do you do that LinkedIn URL? 
    Many thanks,

  • Jose Alea

    These are some great tips.

  • LinkedIn is a great tool that is often ignored, but if used properly can have some great results, one of the main things that most people don’t do is update their profile and optimize it, if you use the right keywords people will find out.

    Think of what your potential customer would be search for and make sure those terms appear in your profile.

  • Doorie

    I beg to differ, why someone should mention his or her name in his intro when one can see our name when he or she visit our page. ???

  • Thank you for this expert info – I didn’t know about the LinkedIn Today. We’re sharing this on our FB post. 

  • Hi Stephanie. Interesting comments. But I saw this question on the Social Media Q&A Answerbase. I didn’t know the answer but it got me thinking: If “the whole business world” is on LinkedIn with spiffy profiles but many users of social media like LinkedIn, or whatever, never go back to the new connections they make, then what’s the point of LinkedIn? Other than being a rich source for recruiters?

    Why isn’t LinkedIn just a glorified electronic resume?I’d be interested in what the readers think about this? How you get any value out of LinkedIn other than for getting a new job?Here is the original question:

  • Morgan Ralls

    I don’t think Linkedin will be around much longer. Features on new sites are proving to be better. A site called that is in Beta right now is basically turing the funnel around making it so employers are coming to the employee by searching certain skills that are needed. I haven’t heard much about people finding jobs on Linkedin, seems to me like a new site will be taking over soon that just plain works better.

  • Eric Sutherland

    Some good points to think about

  • Excellent post, Stephanie!  You definitely covered all the bases and I’m sharing this post far and wide.  While there are things I don’t like about LinkedIn, I do believe that flush with its recent IPO proceeds, LinkedIn is going to be *the* destination networking platform for business professionals for the foreseeable future.  Sorry, Morgan.

  • Thanks for the post Stephanie.  I disagree with Morgan.  I think LI will be around a long time.  I have found out about numerous job opportunities on it.  I don’t understand why people won’t post a photo.  I personally, do not want to connect with anyone who doesn’t have one.  I’ve seen people use other photos besides head shots and I don’t think that is very professional. I will also share this information.

  • No matter if you think you know it all about LinkedIn, there is always something extra to learn you were not aware of. Love LinkedIn, professional and always getting better. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ariel Ashkenazi

    Dimitri-go to edit profile.then go down below your
    Basic details (below websites and twitter accounts) press edit by the public profile section and follow instructions at the new window

  • Great tips, Stephanie! I didn’t realize you could change the anchor text under the ‘websites’ section. Good to know.

  • Espiritu430

    Interesting thoughts, but one of the things I am enjoying is the threads and comments in some groups I’ve joined. Although I’n not on real often, getting points of view and ideas from all over the world is broadening my scope of ideas in the world of sailing and marketing to marine-based customers.  This may be a small segment of what’s going on, and insignificant in the wide scope of things, I don’t know. BUT from my past experience of 25 or 30 years of working in a very small segment of a very large industry (before getting in to marketing within the marine industry) posioning yourself in a ‘nitch’ and doing an outstanding job there will remove you from having to be in and compete with, as you put it . . . . . .  “the whole business world”  . . . on linkedin.

  • Andy

    This is just what I needed to get my butt in gear and make some updates 🙂 I’ve been hearing about the changes, but kept putting it on the back burner. Thanks for the step by step guide/resource!

  • Thanks for clarifying what i need to do to better my LinkedIn profile.  Now i have a guideline / checklist to follow

  • Thanks for the post.  I thought i had covered everything when i made my LinkedIn profile, but i noticed a few things i missed after reading this. 
    Thanks for the tips!

  • Dimitri, when you click “edit profile” you’ll see an edit button next to that link to customize your url!

  • Yep keywords are important to sprinkle throughout your profile!

  • If you view your name as a keyword, I would mention it in the summary section. Plus it makes for a nice intro into your story!

  • Awesome! It’s a great tool.

  • With LinkedIn the profiles get many views. There is so much more depth than just having an online resume. I’ve never been looking for a job and have built a business from my LinkedIn presence by reaching and engaging with my target market.

  • I agree that defining a target market as well as your area of expertise is an absolute must in building a business. It also makes the world of social networking much easier and your activities can be more focused.

  • It’s tough to call but I would say that the stage has been set and those networks who have accumulated all the people are probably going to win in the long run.

  • Take a look at my LinkedIn profile and tell me what is it first thing that STANDS OUT:

  • Trudy

    Thanks for this.  I just made several changes like to my profile headline and now going to work on the connection suggestion.  Will work on the relevant updates daily suggestion  starting tomorrow. Great Idea.

  • The ad from Intel. Unfortunately. And then the yellow button on the right.

  • Great post Stephanie! I would like to emphasize the importance of LinkedIn groups. It is agreat way of communication with like minded people from all over the world. 

    Here’s a syndicated post from Lewis Howes I incidentally just published this morning if you’re interested. 10 Powerful LinkedIn Tips.

  • Andy Goodrich

    Hi MangoJulie,
    I think networking is a major value for LinkedIn users. If you want to learn about a company that you may want to partner with, work for, or are in competition with, you can contact people that are current employees, or former employees.   

  • Thanks Stephanie. I never imagined one could build an entire business on Linked in contacts. Do you think someone would need to have as many LinkedIn profiles as they had businesses? For example, I have two businesses in completely different markets … should I have two separate profiles? And two separate networks?

  • Thanks Espititu430. I agree with focusing on your niche. I’ve been on various groups on LinkedIn that are related to my field. But no one says anything … there is no discussion. It’s like they aren’t even there!

  • Andy, the networking for competitive research is a great idea.

  • Great advice there. There’s a great (and free, no strings attached) LinkedIn (92 pages) ebook available, which guides you through LinkedIn features step-by-step. .

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  • Awesome post Stephanie. I have been actively using linkedin for some time and this post has made me think to spend more time in it.
    Shilpi Singha Roy
    Facebook fan page –

  • Your photo! Great smile.

  • LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networking sites for professionals. A great venue for companies, from small businesses to large ones. If you want to use social media in your business then you’re in the right track. For your social media needs, you can also check out:

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  • No you shouldn’t have two profiles nor will LinkedIn allow that. You might be able to create two company profiles. You could also build separate niche groups depending on your market. 

  • Thanks for the comment Tracy! I’m with you, I think the network has figured out a sustainable method for growing revenues and that they’ll be around for awhile 🙂

  • I agree Carrie. I think the reason people don’t post a photo is because they don’t have one. If you’re a professional, executive, business owner, manager, or anyone who works in the business world for that matter, go invest in a professional head shot!

  • Thanks Linda I’m with you!

  • Great glad you picked something up!

  • You are welcome Andy.

  • Nice! So how does it feel to be the most recommended person under 30? (by the way, did LinkedIn give you that designation?) 🙂

  • Too funny.

  • Kris I agree….but the right groups. Too many groups are full of marketers and noise. 

  • some really good advice Stephanie, thanks for posting. I made a couple of alterations to my profile whilst reading through the article and will definitely be going back to polish it all!

  • Gérard KOFFI

    Thank you very much for these useful informations

  • Thank you for this valuable information. I am often amazed at how much more there is to learn about this great industry of ours.

  • I liked the ideas in your post, it gives a nice snap shot and some great ideas.

  • thanks for the tips Stephanie.

    what are your opinions on syndicating your twitter stream through linkedin (which i have setup currently).

    i find that it gets my message out in a different space and its effectiveness is i think, quite minimal as in Australia Linkedin isn’t as big (though getting bigger) as the other platforms.

    I also have my blog as an application “just cuz”.

    however I am finding the groups to be particularly useful!

    thanks again

  • You are absolutely right on that Stephanie. Groups with specific topics tend to work better than some general ‘online marketing’ groups.

  • Hi Stephanie,

    All great tips, I like the adding to groups note.

    Engaging makes you immediately more attractive. We like listeners. Engaging in groups where like-minded people hang out helps target our campaign. Hang out in the same neighborhood. Bring value to the table with insightful comments. Your visibility improves as you are seen in the eyes of others as a giver.



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  • Thanks for sharing this! I just created linkedin and thought this article would be helpful

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  • As a swede I’ve been thinking about two things.
    1. Is english the language to use? If I use swedish I’m limiting the usage of LinkedIn, right?
    2. My name is Håkan and the “å” is kinda strange in an english context… Should I change my profile name? Sometimes I call my self Walt or Walter… Though, my swedish contacts know me as Håkan…

  • 19MYLewis06

    Good information, I do this already. I would like add also that participating in discussion groups and generating tops for discussion is another way generating visibility and building your network.  Please check out my new blog, Strategy Is Everything,  4 part social media series to start next week.  Follow me on Twitter @Hollywood1906:twitter 

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  • Great article. I think LinkedIn is an underutitlized site and I gained a lot from this article.  I also wrote an article about LinkedIn. I would love your feedback.

    Thanks 🙂

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  • Inder Sarna

    I have been following the same for LinkedIn since long time and Yes it delivers good visibility for your profile. A lead generating platform – B2B.


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  • Kofi Hagan

    Extraordinary. just what I need to move to the next level. Thank you stephanie.

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