Getting started with… LinkedIn by Leanne Forshaw Jones


LinkedIn has been around for almost a decade, starting life as somewhere where we cautiously uploaded our CVs while snooping on ex colleagues. It’s only really in the last three years or so that the site’s really come into it’s own and given business people (and businesses!) a viable place in which to network, make contacts and explore new client and employment opportunities.

This top 10 run down of the best LinkedIn features will help you use the site more effectively.

#1: A headline grabbing start

On LinkedIn the first thing that users will see about you is your name and job title and picture. It’s a snapshot of you which comes up in any search so get the ‘headline’ right from the start and ensure that you sound interesting enough for people to read more about you an add you. Your ‘headline’ doesn’t just have to include your job title, you can add skills and areas of expertise too.

And make sure that you use a professional, clear headshot of yourself. One you want to give off the right impression in a professional forum and two, you want to ensure users know they’re connecting with the real you.

#2: A completed profile

Beyond the headline there needs to be a story and LinkedIn has added a wealth of updates to its profile pages in recent years that allow you to do this.

A profile that’s filled out correctly can be a great on paper version of the professional you. Ensure that you fill yours out properly. Accurate job details and company contacts will also help me validate our connection on LinkedIn.

The site recognises company names so ensure that yours is spelt correctly and LinkedIn will automatically categorise you as an employee of the relevant organisation – a nice badge and way of demonstrating more about yourself.

#3: A completed ‘Summary’

Also take advantage of the summary section – the most important area of your personal page. You are the person best placed to talk about your skills and expertise so why leave it to other people to blow your trumpet?

You must fill out the ‘summary’ section of your LinkedIn profile and give connections an honest snapshot of your abilities, skills and achievements, it’s your on paper elevator pitch that can help attract new clients or career opportunities. Don’t be shy to shout about your successes on here either, as long as the tone remains professional there’s no harm in boasting.

And finally, ensure that your summary is ‘SEO’ friendly. Use keywords that will help other LinkedIn users find you by means other than your name such as your skills or job title. The best advice is to list perhaps the top five skills you feel you possess, as well as an insight into the clients that you work with.

#4: Get recommended

Ok, so here comes the contradiction… Once you’ve blown your own trumpet on your profile it’s a good idea to ask other people to do it too.

There is a feature on your profile page which allows you to ask for endorsements and recommendations from other users, maybe past managers, clients or peers. It’s called recommendations and don’t be shy when using it! If you’ve got contacts for whom you know you did a great job – ask them to recommend you. And don’t worry, you always have first approval on a recommendation before you publish it on your page!

#5: Update regularly

As with other social networks, LinkedIn allows you to update your ‘status’ and tell your professional connections what you are up to. Use this feature, promote examples of your work or press coverage about your company. You can also use it to educate and demonstrate your knowledge of your industry by sharing links to key news happening in your sector. All of this helps to reinforce the professional you. Just remember that this is a professional network so keep the tone and topics suited to that.

#6: Use the right connection etiquette

LinkedIn rules stipulate that there must be a valid reason for adding a new connection on LinkedIn – mindless soliciting on the site is greatly discouraged and won’t get you very far. However as long as you approach it professionally there’s no harm in adding prospective contacts and people with whom you share common interests, as long as the relationship isn’t abused beyond that.

It’s commonplace that people who are members of likeminded LinkedIn Groups (more on those later…) or fellow members of your industry will add you on the site because they want to engage with you. Don’t be afraid to extend connections that way – you never know who you could meet.

#7: Use LinkedIn Groups

Groups on LinkedIn have come on leaps and bounds since their launch a few years back and are now great places in which to hold conversations with colleagues, peers and clients.

A couple of years ago at the height of LinkedIn’s Group’s features people made the counter productive error of joining as many groups as they could (the site has limits on group membership). Consequentially, people were unable to maintain conversations and grew frustrated with the number of notifications they were receiving from Groups. The best advice is the old adage ‘less is more’ and it’s better to concentrate on forming lasting professional relationships within a handful of Groups.

#8: Use profile applications

LinkedIn also let’s you add third party applications to your profile, allowing content from outside of the LinkedIn site to be added to your page. You can add applications in your ‘edit profile’ section when you go onto the site, our current favourites are:

  • WordPress: If you have a blog you can feed the content from it through to your LinkedIn profile. If your blog is an insightful view into your industry and expertise it’s a great way of demonstrating more about the professional ‘you’
  • Slideshare presentations: This feature allows you to add presentations to your profile – perhaps you have a corporate presentation, or want to showcase your recent work in Powerpoint form? This is a great way of doing that, just remember to keep presentations concise, you don’t want to bore your LinkedIn connections..!
  • Events: Do you host regular seminars? Is networking key to your role and organisation? If so this app is imperative for your profile, allowing you to post information about events and invite relevant connections along.

#9: Pay attention to your company page

LinkedIn has a company pages facility, a clever amalgamation of data from users who say that hey work for a specific organisation. These arguably underutilized pages are a great dashboard for your company so ensure that staff working for you who have a LinkedIn presence, have accurate information on their profile – as they’ll unwittingly contribute to this page too.

There’s an option to ‘edit’ this page and it’s open to anyone who has the relevant company domain email address but if you want tighter control on the page for your business (something we’d recommend) then use the ‘edit’ section to appoint dedicated administrators.

The chosen administrators can then add company information, web links, contacts details and a cool embedded Google Maps feature which pinpoints your office and branch locations.

#10: Don’t sit still…

Once you’ve got the momentum on LinkedIn – and got the basics above right – don’t sit still. You must engage and educate your connections, show them how you and your career are evolving. Keep yourself interesting and relevant, it’s the way in which your network will grow…


Using a wide mix of the right social media channels helps broaden your organisation’s social footprint, creating more presence for you across the web. Successful brands have a well established social footprint through engaging on a mix of channels as part of a coherent campaign. LinkedIn can contribute to your social media footprint and with the right language and use of brand and industry keywords can help maintain a presence online which is search engine optimised. Check each of our ‘Getting Started With…’ guides for further details.

About the Author

  • Leanne Forshaw Jones

    Leanne Forshaw Jones is a PR consultant with more than a decade's experience in delivering integrated campaigns which blend traditional and emerging medias. Leanne advises clients including Urban Splash, Manchester Grammar School, Manchester Arndale, Breville, Ballymore Group, Space0 and more on their communication strategies and has delivered seminars to national and regional groups on integrating their digital and offline presence and maximising the opportunities that new media brings.


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