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How to Use LinkedIn: Must-Have Tips for Professional Success

March 2, 2020

LinkedIn is the world’s leading social platform for business professionals.

Founded in 2002, the social network has grown to over 600 million active users from around the globe. On the site, users are able to highlight their professional experience, network with new and existing business connections, share thought leadership articles, and even apply to jobs. On the other end, employers use the platform to advertise open positions and recruit qualified talent.

If this is your first experience using LinkedIn, you’ll quickly learn that it’s very user-friendly and no more difficult to use than other social networks. Refer to this comprehensive guide to find everything you need to do in order to make the most of your LinkedIn profile.

How LinkedIn works

LinkedIn’s interface is set up very similar to other social media platforms. Users are prompted to create a profile detailing their career experience, education, and any relevant skills or volunteer activities.

Once you’re signed up, you are given access to your LinkedIn feed, which is powered by an algorithm that delivers status updates from your connections as well as other content that is deemed useful or relevant. The feed will populate with more content as you connect with more people and grow your network.

Users also have the option to follow high-profile industry influencers such as Oprah, Katie Couric, and Richard Branson.

How to create a LinkedIn profile

To create a LinkedIn profile, start by creating an account. Be sure to choose an email that you check frequently, as you want to stay on top of any notifications or connection requests that you receive.

1. Fill out your basic information including your full name and phone number
2. Upload a professional photo
3. Add your location
4. Import your contacts list

Once your account is ready, it’s time to start building out the rest of your profile. A LinkedIn profile is set up similar to a traditional resume. At the top is your picture with a headline, along with a short summary section.

How to edit summary in LinkedIn

The summary section of your LinkedIn profile is intended to be very similar to the type of summary that is usually included in a resume.

1. Click the “Me” icon at the top of the homepage
2. Select “View Profile
3. Click the pencil icon on the right side of the “About” section
4. Fill out summary text and click “Save

how to change linkedin summarySource: LinkedIn

LinkedIn summary templates

Along with your picture and headline, your LinkedIn summary is one of the first things that someone viewing your profile will see. To put your best foot forward, it’s important to have a summary that is professional and up-to-date.

When it comes to what you say in your summary, it’s really up to you to decide. Some people choose to recap their work experience, while others prefer to show off their personalities and include a quote or something more creative.

Check out the templates below for some inspiration.

To-the-point template

Currently [role] at [company]. Formerly [past role] at [past company]. Interested in [2-3 personal interests]. Let’s connect!

This is your standard one-size-fits-all LinkedIn summary. In a few sentences, you’ve outlined your current and past experience, as well as shared things that you’re passionate about. This is the perfect template if you prefer to keep things short and sweet.

Accomplishments template

Known best for [major accomplishment]. A [role] at [company] looking to [career goal you wish to accomplish].

  • [Relevant award or accomplishments]
  • [List any other prominent awards or accomplishments]

This template is ideal if you have any major accomplishments you’d like to highlight. Although you have the opportunity to do this under your work experience further down on your profile, your summary is an easy way to showcase your greatest achievements front and center.

Mission statement template

To use my gifts of [2-3 qualities or skills] to [overarching goal you seek to reach].

A personal mission statement defines who you are as a person and a professional. It outlines the things you’re most passionate about and what values are most important to you. If you want to get more personal in your LinkedIn summary, this is the way to do it.

Company-based template

I’m a [job position] at [company]. [1-2 sentence description about what your company does, its mission or goals]. [Any additional information about your company and its role in the market]. [Link to company website or careers hub].

Even if you’re not looking to make a career move anytime soon, you still want to have a LinkedIn summary that is a strong reflection of who you are as a professional. With this option, you can highlight your current role and the company you work for, as well as advertise any job openings or upcoming events your organization is putting on.

How to add experience on LinkedIn

The bulk of your LinkedIn profile will be made up of your experience. In this section, you are prompted to add current and past roles as well as short descriptions of your responsibilities at each position (the latter is optional).

1. Go to your profile by clicking the “Me” icon at the top of the page and select “View Profile
2. Scroll down until you see the “Experience” header and then click the big plus (+) sign
3. In the pop-up, enter your company, job title, and other relevant details
4. Click “Save

how to add experience to linkedinSource: LinkedIn

Add any relevant and standout details related to your current and past positions. If you list any accomplishments in your summary, this is your opportunity to elaborate on them.

How to upload your resume to LinkedIn

If you’re on the hunt for a new gig, it’s a good idea to add your formal resume to your LinkedIn profile. Once it’s uploaded, it will show up at the bottom of the summary section.

1. On the homepage, select “View Profile” from the dropdown menu under the “Me” icon
2. Click on the pencil icon to edit your profile
3. In the pop-up, scroll down and click “Upload” under media
4. Find your resume file and click “Save

how to upload resume to linkedinSource: LinkedIn

By uploading your resume, you’re going the extra mile to show potential employers that you’re eager to find a new position.

How to add skills on LinkedIn

Skills and endorsements live at the very bottom of your LinkedIn profile. If you haven’t listed any skills on your page yet, this section will not appear on your profile.

how to add skills to your linkedin profile

Source: LinkedIn

To get started, follow these steps:
1. Click the “Me” icon, followed by “View Profile” from the drop-down menu
2. Select the blue “Add profile section” to the right side of your name
3. Click “Skills” from the drop-down menu
4. Type out which skills you want to add

list of linkedin skillsSource: LinkedIn

Once you do this, a designated skills section will appear towards the bottom of your profile. You can always go back and add or remove skills by scrolling to this section.

Best skills to add to LinkedIn

Similar to a resume, you want to highlight your most marketable hard and soft skills on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t be afraid to get specific when listing your skills – this section is your opportunity to make your profile stand out.

Hard skills

These are technical skills that you’ve earned through education, certifications, or work experience.

Here are some examples of hard skills to list on your LinkedIn profile:

  • Certifications
  • Sales and marketing
  • Data analytics
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • News writing

Soft skills

These skills are less related to your technical expertise and more related to your ability to collaborate and work with others. Soft skills are often more difficult to quantify.

Here are some examples of soft skills:

  • Leadership
  • Team building
  • Time management
  • Creativity
  • Organization

Be sure to list skills that are an accurate reflection of your abilities as a professional. To make your profile more credible, you can seek out endorsements from your LinkedIn connections. More on that later.

Using LinkedIn connections

Your LinkedIn network is one the most powerful tools the platform has to offer. Your network is made up of connections or people who you have professional relationships with. This could be current or past coworkers, clients, and even mentors.

The more connections you have, the bigger your network is and the more opportunities you have to be noticed for job openings and show up in LinkedIn search results.

How to connect with people on LinkedIn

The first step toward growing your network is making connections. To connect with someone, follow these steps:

1. Click “My Network” at the top of your homepage. A list of possible connections will populate.
2. Click on a person’s profile that you’d like to connect with
3. Select “Connect” to the right of the person’s name
4. Fill out the pop-up box if you want to add a personal message with your connection request
5. Click “Done

how to connect with someone on linkedinSource: LinkedIn

Your connection request will be “pending” until it’s accepted by the person on the other end. If they accept, you will be notified of your new connection.

What’s the difference between LinkedIn follow vs. connect?

LinkedIn gives users the option to “follow” other users or brands. This is different than a connection in several ways. Using the “follow” feature allows you to see their posts and articles on your newsfeed, but they won’t be able to see yours.

This is useful when following industry influencers that you may not know personally, but you still want to see their content.

How to endorse someone on LinkedIn

One of the major benefits of growing your LinkedIn network is the ability to leverage your connections for endorsements. As previously mentioned, endorsements help boost your credibility since your peers are validating your skills.

A great way to start getting endorsements is by giving them, here’s how:

1. Go to your connection’s profile by searching their name
2. Scroll down to the “Skills & Endorsements” section
3. Click the blue plus (+) sign to endorse a skill
4. In the pop-up, select a skill level and how you’re familiar with your connection’s skills

how to endorse connections on LinkedInSource: LinkedIn

It’s important to note that your connection will be notified of the endorsement and will have to accept it before it appears on their profile.

How to block someone on LinkedIn

Just like any other social media network, LinkedIn is vulnerable to hosting users that misuse the platform outside of its intended purpose.

It’s important to tread with caution and be aware of strangers that try to connect with you. If you suspect a user has bad intentions, it may be best to block them.

Follow these steps to learn how:

1. Go to the user’s profile
2. Click “More…” on the right side of their name
3. From the drop-down menu, select “Report/Block
4. Click “Block” from the pop-up to confirm your decision

how to block someone on linkedinSource: LinkedIn

After a user is blocked, they will no longer be able to see your profile or contact you. If you change your mind down the line, you can always unblock the user.

How to change LinkedIn URL

When you first create your LinkedIn profile, you automatically get assigned a URL. Most of these auto-generated URLs look like a jumbled mix of letters and numbers.

Luckily, LinkedIn makes it easy for users to update and customize profile URLs.

1. Click “Me” at the top of your homepage, followed by “View Profile
2. In the top-right corner, select “Edit public profile & URL
3: Select the pencil icon and type out your desired URL
4: Click “Save

how to change linkedin profile URLSource: LinkedIn

All LinkedIn profile URLs follow the same format. Your new URL will look like this:

How to post an article on LinkedIn

One of LinkedIn’s less-known features allows users to publish long-form articles right on the platform. This is different than posting a status, which limits you to 1300 characters or less.

Follow these simple step-by-step instructions to post an article on LinkedIn:

1. At the top of your LinkedIn newsfeed, click “Write an article on LinkedIn
2. Write your article. Be sure to include a headline and any relevant images or videos
3. Click “Publish

how to publish an article on linkedin

Source: LinkedIn

Once you hit publish, the article will be shared with your network via the newsfeed. Users can “like” and leave comments on the piece.

LinkedIn profile tips

The key to using LinkedIn effectively is knowing all of the platform’s capabilities and leveraging them to your benefit. Creating a profile that is up-to-date is only scraping the surface of what LinkedIn can do for your career and professional brand.

Check out these tips to take your LinkedIn presence to the next level.

Join a LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn groups are online communities of people who share similar interests or experience. Joining a group is a great way to meet like-minded professionals in your industry, share knowledge, and expand your network.

Add multimedia to your profile

You don’t have to work in a creative industry to see value from adding pictures, videos, or other multimedia files to your summary. One of the easiest ways to make your experience stand out and highlight past projects you’ve worked on is by adding them directly to your profile.

Utilize the LinkedIn Salary Insights tool

Whether you’re gearing up for an annual performance review or negotiating a final offer at a new company, it’s important to know your earning potential.

The LinkedIn Salary Insights tool offers wage information based on your role, location, company size, and how much other people in your role (or the position you’re applying for) are earning.

Learn how to use InMail

Sending direct messages, or InMails, on LinkedIn is a low-pressure way to create deeper connections with your network. Always be sure to send a personalized InMail message if you’re requesting to connect with someone outside of your primary network.

Additionally, remember to always keep things professional and format direct messages similar to a work email.

Follow hashtags

Keeping tabs on trending hashtags is a quick and effective way to stay in-the-know and share insights with others in your industry. To discover hashtags, enter the topic you’d like to follow in the search bar. LinkedIn will populate your search results with hashtags that match your query.

Try LinkedIn Premium for a month

LinkedIn is available at no cost; however, the platform does have a paid offering for users who want to unlock extra features and perks. Deciding which LinkedIn Premium plan is right for you will depend on what you’re looking to get out of the platform. Popular paid features include access to analytics and a resume builder.

RELATED: If you’re not ready to take the plunge into the full paid offering, LinkedIn offers a one-month free trial for users.

How to delete LinkedIn account

If there ever comes a time when you want to delete your LinkedIn account, it’s very simple to do.

1. Click the “Me” icon at the top of the homepage. In the drop-down menu, select “Settings & Privacy
2. Under the “Account” tab, scroll to ”Account Management” and click “Change
3. Select a reason for deleting your account
4. Enter your password and click “Close Account

how to delete linkedin accountSource: LinkedIn

Once you close your account, it will be officially inactive and not visible to other users.

Let’s get networking

While the days of handing out business cards and filling out paper job applications may not be over just yet, more and more people are turning to digital platforms, such as LinkedIn, to job hunt, network, and build their professional brands.

With this guide in your back pocket, you’ll be a full-fledged LinkedIn guru in no time.

LinkedIn is far more than just a social media platform for job-seekers. Learn how businesses leverage LinkedIn as a marketing tool to advertise job openings, attract qualified talent, and build brand awareness.

Have a question?

If you have any questions or comments about what you're reading, click below to chat directly with the author!

Have a question?

If you have any questions or comments about what you're reading, click below to chat directly with the author!

How to Use LinkedIn: Must-Have Tips for Professional Success Everything is online nowadays - including our professional lives. Understanding how to use LinkedIn effectively is essential for the modern business professional. Learn how to create a stellar LinkedIn profile, start building meaningful connections, and share content to become a thought leader in your industry.
Izabelle Hundrev Izabelle is a Partner Marketing Specialist at InStride and a former content specialist at G2. Outside of work, she is passionate about all things pop culture, food, and travel. (she/her/hers)

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