7 Ways To Ace Your LinkedIn Game

Whether you’re a college grad looking for that first job, a mid-career guy expanding his network, or a seasoned entrepreneur launching a new company—you’re definitely on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the social media platform for professionals itching to take their career to the next level. 94-percent recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates. 3 million active jobs are currently listed on LinkedIn. And up-to-date LinkedIn profiles are 18 times more likely to forge connections.

Sadly, if you made your profile once upon a time and forgot all about it—you’re sitting on a gold mine of opportunity and have no clue why. There’s no better way to nail mediocrity. My advice: get rid of that goddamn page or amp your LinkedIn game. Here are 7 simple ways to get started:

#1. Strict No No’s

Think of LinkedIn like a little book of etiquette. If you make the wrong moves, you’ll be outcast in a click. To get started, try avoiding three simple blunders most make: Number one: LinkedIn’s not Facebook. It’s not the place to post cat videos and offer mood updates. Number two: don’t take your network for granted. You don’t add someone new to your network and ask for a favor right away.

Number three: stalk responsibly. If you can see who visited your profile—so can they. Visiting someone’s profile 10 times is plain creepy. If you can’t stop instantly, you can always screenshot a useful profile. On the contrary—if a recruiter’s checking you out frequently—use common sense and reach out.

#2. Grab That Headline

You know how you read the news on social media: You hog the headline, skim through the first few lines, size-up the facts, check out the photograph—and instant share. That’s pretty much what happens to your profile when a headhunter’s on the prowl. That’s why you need to make that headline count.

LinkedIn defaults to using your current job as the headline unless you intervene. Describing what you do by getting into the specifics helps. Case in point: ‘Digital Arts Journalist With 6+ Years in Online Publishing’ as compared to just ‘Journalist.’ Don’t forget to use the summary tab (below the headline) to sell yourself. This is where you’ll use industry-specific keywords to stand out. Recruiters are doing the same to fill jobs as fast as they can. In helping them—you’re doing yourself a favor.

#3. Forge Your Unique Link

Your LinkedIn profile has a unique link that looks generic as fuck. Something like Tom0356789 is not gonna impress. To make it your own—go to your profile page, click ‘edit public profile’, then click ‘edit profile URL.’ Change this link to: www.linkedin.com/in/firstname-lastname.

Don’t stop there. LinkedIn is replete with generic everything. Anytime you send an invite to establish a new connection,  congratulate someone on their promotion, or send out HBD messages—customized language greets the reader. Don’t let the machines take over. Making the interaction human will help you stand out.

4. Looks Matter. Period.

You know you put a lot of thought into your Facebook selfie. You take that pic over and over until you pout right, angle your head to execute nonchalance, and use a dozen filters to reach satisfaction. When it comes to LinkedIn you’ve gotta stick to an equally painful routine—except no selfie.

You don’t wanna use a photo with bad lighting, obvious cropping, pets, or significant others.  Invest in a professional head shot, wear something strictly formal, and get minimal makeup—so you look like you. Face the camera to exude confidence—just like you’ll face a hiring manager in a real job interview. Remember to add a relevant background image to make your profile pic pop. For those looking to add no photographs at all—you’re missing out on 21 times more views.

4. Be a Groupie

If you survived high school—you’ve def got a Master’s in this regard. But somehow joining groups didn’t catch your fancy when you set up your LinkedIn account. If finding groups seems like a daunting task—start with your school alum group. Then find your way into all the groups that make your industry tick. It’s the fastest way to find latest news and hobnob with key influencers.

Groups will also help you forge strategic connections to land jobs instantly or network like you mean it. This is also the right time to do some spring-cleaning. Edit your network to make sure you have relevant contacts and not anyone who sent you a friend request. LinkedIn is a number’s game and you’ll be happy to build an army of 400 strong—but make sure you know who’s who in your team.

5. Asking Never Hurt No-one

This is vital. Whether you’re on LinkedIn or off it—don’t be afraid to ask your mentor, prof, or boss for a recommendation. If they agree to add one to your profile page—they’re ready to endorse you publicly. That’s great news! Given the chance—you too should endorse someone you’ve enjoyed working with. It’ll demonstrate your leadership skills and your value in a workplace.

Another place you shouldn’t hesitate is while reaching out to someone new. Hell—networking’s the point of social media platforms. Just look for a common contact and ask him/her for an intro. LinkedIn’s InMail feature can be handy in this regard. You can also use InMail to help others and feed your networking karma. However, don’t use InMail to ask questions about a job vacancy. Always do your own homework.

6. Shout For Attention the Right Way

Guess what? You can now post status updates and articles on LinkedIn. Use these features to show-off a by line you’re really proud of, your multimedia chops, or to share key industry news. If you can speak more than one language—make sure your profile flaunts it. If you spent summer, volunteering to clean a highway—LinkedIn needs to know.

LinkedIn allows you to add sections like education, skills, and awards to better organize everything you’ve done. It also allows your contacts to endorse you for multiple skills. Take your time to return the favor, but weed out skills that don’t make career sense.

7. Consistency is Key

If you spend 5 minutes a day managing the state-of-affairs on LinkedIn—your profile will begin to inch closer to 100-percent. Use that time to explore all that LinkedIn can do for you. For ex. Did you know LinkedIn lets you export all your contacts? Or that advanced job searches can help you zero down on recruiters in your city—by company, date, and experience level? Or that you can find jobs based on languages you speak?

LinkedIn is a live resume that needs to demonstrate who you are in real time. Being honest is therefore key. Conflicts between paper resumes submitted for jobs and your LinkedIn profile can raise eyebrows.

What’ll really seal the deal, however, is consistency. LinkedIn operates like muscles in your body that need constant exercise to keep you healthy. If you exercise them well you can run a marathon. But, if you do nothing at all, your muscles will atrophy and adversely impact.  If running is too much of a time investment—start with a simple walk.

I love dogs, Brooklyn and Ollo-Clips—in that order. When I'm not working I'm usually stuck in a bush trying to take detail shots of thorns, petals and ants. On other days—I binge watch Black-ish or The Magicians, depending on my mood.