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A Club With You as a Member

So you’ve got yourself some membership on LinkedIn. Good for you. With more than 150 million worldwide users, LinkedIn is a virtual trout pond for folks fishing for career enhancement, whether it’s to drive more traffic to their business or score another rung on the promotional ladder.

But your efforts on this front need to be undertaken actively. Membership in the LinkedIn community is not a passive enterprise and you underuse the resource to your own considerable detriment.

Herewith then, for individuals keen to change that scene, nine tips for dropping the tastiest bait in the LinkedIn pool.

Post an engaging profile. In addition to listing your education and professional experience, draft up a summary paragraph for your page — a brief snapshot that serves as valuable shorthand for time-constrained seekers on the prowl. Check out peers’ pages for inspiration here. Oh, and throw up a photo — it’ll save you a multitude of words

• Cultivate a presence. By asking questions of the LinkedIn community, you invite attention back to you and your curious mind. Folks into the same kind of stuff will have an interest in the discussions that result. And you gain credibility points by offering answers of your own to others’ questions. Every demonstration of your engaged existence helps.

• Invite connections. Survey your mailing lists to identify existing contacts and invite them to join. Scour your Outlook, Palm, ACT! And Mac Address contacts files and upload the lot. And take LinkedIn up on its thoughtful suggestions of folks you might want on your team. If you’re hungry for more, use the “people you may know” feature.

Participate in groups. LinkedIn allows users to belong to a max of 50 groups, more than enough for individuals to find electronic congregations of like-minded souls. If you’re at a loss for relevant possibilities, visit profiles of industry leaders and join all the groups on their lists.

• Tie in Twitter. Use Twitter’s application programming interfaces to cross-promote content you’ve posted across all your social networking accounts.

• Share content. By posting links to things that sparked your interest in LinkedIn Today, you’ll come across as an engaged, reader-ly type with lots to offer network connections.

Optimize your URL. The scrambled URL LinkedIn automatically assigns you is destined to be despaired over by people searching for reputable contacts with clean website addresses, and to get missed altogether by Google searches. Change it by visiting your edit profile page and clicking “edit” in the “Public Profile” section.

• Research your industry. Itching for a career move? Check out contenders for your talent on LinkedIn. Pay attention to the skills and experience of the people they recruit, and sign up to follow the organization so you get company updates and newsfeeds from your potential next employer.

• Maximize your links. LinkedIn allots members a maximum of three links in their profiles. Pick yours carefully and exploit them meaningfully by assigning them attractive names. No one’s feverishly clicking on “my blog.” Yawn.

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