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social media how toIs your LinkedIn profile all it could be?

Are you taking advantage of some of LinkedIn’s special features?

If a social media channel isn’t working for you, you’re wasting time.

In this article you’ll discover how to optimize your own profile and find more connections using your LinkedIn network.

#1: Find Hidden User Information

Have you ever used LinkedIn’s advanced search option and gotten a result like this one?

linkedin profile with hidden info

Don’t let hidden user information trip you up.

It’s frustrating when you find the perfect person to connect with, but can’t see all of his or her information without upgrading your account.

Luckily, there’s a workaround: When you share a hidden LinkedIn profile with one of your own connections, you’ll be able to see the complete profile in your Sent mailbox.

Contact a trusted, current LinkedIn connection and let the person know you’re sending a message via LinkedIn. (You don’t want your existing connection to be surprised by a random profile share that may not be relevant to him or her.)

Click the Send [person’s name] InMail button, choose Share from the menu and then send the contact to your current LinkedIn connection.

sharing a linkedin profile via inmail

Share the hidden contact with a friend via LinkedIn InMail.

Return to your own dashboard and look in your Sent mailbox. You will see a copy of the email you sent to your contact, along with a link to the profile you want to view.

viewing a linkedin profile via inmail

Your sent mail reveals the person’s full LinkedIn profile.

Click on the View Profile link and you’ll be able to read the entire profile and contact the person! Yes, it’s kind of like magic.

#2: Include Keywords in Job Titles

Is there a social platform where keywords aren’t an important part of updates and profiles? On LinkedIn, most users include keywords in their headline, but they don’t always use them in their job titles.

Your Job Title field gives you 100 characters—use them! Any keywords you’ve identified for your headline benefit you in your Job Title field as well.

For example, your job title may be Vice President Human Resources. To optimize that job title so you appear in relevant searches, add related keywords:

Vice President Human Resources | Director of Human Resources | HR Generalist.

Take a look at your own job titles. Are they optimized for LinkedIn SEO? If not, go add some keywords! Showing up in LinkedIn search results means connecting with people interested in your skill set—either to talk about hiring or just connect professionally.

#3: Keep Summary and Specialties Separate

Your LinkedIn profile may or may not have both Summary and Specialties sections.

linkedin summary and specialties section

Keep your Summary and Specialties sections separate when possible.

Your Summary section is just that—an overview of what you do or can bring to a company as an employee. Your Specialties section is a more specific list of your particular skills.

You can tell whether you have both by going to your Edit Summary page. If it looks like the example above, you have separate Summary and Specialties sections.

If you have both a Summary and a Specialties section, do not click the Append Specialties to Summary link (under the Specialties box). If you delete your Specialties section by adding it to your Summary, you won’t be able to get it back.

Why do you want to keep your Specialties section? It gives you 500 characters for targeted keywords related to your skills. If you combine Specialties and Summary, you have to cut down your Summary section to add your targeted keywords.

But don’t panic if you’ve already combined these two sections. You can integrate your keywords into your Summary paragraphs or create a mock Specialties section within your Summary. Simply type the word Specialties and follow it with a keyword list.

#4: Leverage the Find Alumni Feature

In general, we like familiarity. We trust others who have shared experiences or backgrounds.

On LinkedIn, that trust is often skewed toward others who attended our same college or university. (Perhaps the only thing we’re more loyal to than our school is our sports teams!)

If you aren’t using the Find Alumni tool on LinkedIn, you’re missing out on getting some seriously preferential treatment. The Find Alumni tool is under Network on your toolbar.

finding alumni on the networking dropdown

Network with alumni to find candidates or a job.

When you search for other alumni, LinkedIn returns information on location, company and general job descriptions. When you find the alumni who fit your needs, drop them a line.

linkedin alumni results

LinkedIn Alumni search results.

Whether you’re looking for job candidates or looking for a job yourself, connecting and networking with others from your college or university is a great first step.

Bonus: Connect Offline

Meeting, connecting and working with people on social channels is our everyday. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget that the people we’re connecting with are more than just a name and picture on our screen. We get used to only interacting with others online.

If you want to get the most out of your network and make an impression, put in an effort to meet offline. Online conversations are simply not sufficient to build a network and get results.

istock coffee image 3464775

It’s important to meet online connections in real life. Image: iStockPhoto.

Next time you make a new connection on LinkedIn, how about picking up the phone and talking to that person? Or if you’re traveling, see if anyone can meet for coffee. Set up a one-on-one meeting or meet with a group—whichever you’re comfortable with and think will have the most value.

People like to meet people. Don’t forget there’s a human being behind every LinkedIn profile and chances are every one has a telephone and goes out for coffee dates. Go meet them!

Conclusion

If you’re not using LinkedIn to its full potential, you’re missing out on important networking opportunities. A few changes in how you use the platform—and how you connect—can make all the difference.

What do you think? Have any of these tips worked for you? Do you have other LinkedIn tips? Please leave your tips and comments below!

Images from iStockPhoto.
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