256px-Linkedin_svg_2If you are not already on LinkedIn, you should be. LinkedIn is hands down the #1 online application for managing professional contacts, and career / business related networking. It’s an invaluable tool whether you are actively looking for a job, or already have a great one.

In order to leverage LinkedIn effectively, it is essential to make a great LinkedIn profile. A great LinkedIn profile is one that thoroughly covers your education, skills, and work experience. In other words, it will look an awful lot like your resume. Here is a link to my public LinkedIn profile

The main things you want to include in your profile are: 1) Education and Degree(s) earned, 2) detailed work history with dates of employment and information about your job, 3) “buzzwords” specific to your work experience and skills. Nice to include information includes volunteer experience, interests, a professional picture, and “advice for contacting me” information. Over time, it’s also great to display personal recommendations written by other LinkedIn members (more on that later).

The good news is that LinkedIn has made creating or updating your profile very, very easy. When logged in to your profile, there is a wizard that will show you what sections are incomplete. You’ll note that on my profile, under each of my jobs held, I’ve included details about my specific work experience and accomplishments. Not as much information as you might find on my professional resume, but enough to give someone potentially interested in my background a pretty good idea of what I’ve done.

When you make a great LinkedIn profile, you’ll start to have a much more positive experience on LinkedIn. For one thing, the solicitations you receive for jobs or business partnership will generally be much more targeted and high quality. For example, we recently did a search for a great client that required extensive knowledge of specific accounting rule (ASC 605). When we plugged this variable into our LinkedIn search, we came up with a very small number of prospects, all of whom returned our emails about the search because we were sending them highly targeted messages. Secondly, when you use LinkedIn for networking purposes and you reach out to someone, you are far more likely to get a response when you have a professional and detailed profile that shows who you are.

In our next series on LinkedIn, we will discuss how to develop a powerful network. Stay tuned!