ed muses upon


Just a Few LinkedIn Best Practices

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An abiding passion of mine is best practices. In fact, I think so much of best practices that I consider it one of my core values. In the past three years, I have spent a goodly amount of time learning about LinkedIn. For almost two years now, I have led workshops on it and very few days go by that I don’t learn something new about this tool.

Therefore, I want to share just a few LinkedIn best practices today revolving around profile completeness, Groups, status and Applications.

Profile completeness

This involves several things: a summary, profile picture, headline and three recommendations. A 100% complete profile will appear higher in search results when people search for LinkedIn users. A lot of these searches are being conducted by recruiters, so please do yourself this kindness.

Keyword-rich summary

When those recruiters are searching, they’re generally searching for keywords. Those keywords can be populated in your LinkedIn profile summary. You can see how effectively you have done so by doing a search for your ideal next position based on keywords. If you are not on page 1 of the search results, you may have some work ahead of you.

Profile picture

To achieve a 100% complete profile, you need a picture. It’s important to note that the LinkedIn Terms of Service specifically require a headshot. Most people know a shutterbug: someone in their family—maybe a friend—but someone who’s an avid photographer. See if that person is interested in helping you by taking a picture you can use.

I am aware some are concerned about the prospect of being the victims of subconscious (or even conscious) age discrimination, gleaned through your profile picture. I don’t believe that’s a valid fear because if you get the interview, they’re eventually going to find out how old you are anyway. If it’s going to be a deal breaker, save yourself the wasted effort. Besides, even if you got the offer, would you really be comfortable in such an environment?


If you’ve spent any amount of time on LinkedIn, you’ll have seen a lot of headlines that say “[job function/industry] professional”. Maybe that’s even what yours says right now. If so, do yourself the kindness of changing it. I ask that you change it because it’s bland, dull…unmemorable. That is the very opposite of personal branding.

Your headline appears on LinkedIn every single time your name does. It’s your own personal billboard: I can’t think of a better branding opportunity.

Give some thought to what you want that message to be. Are you an innovative thought leader in your area who lives on the bleeding edge? Maybe you’re a maven with compliance, skillfully navigating a still-evolving sea of requirements. Or perhaps you are a whiz at logistics, masterminding shipments from developing markets to guarantee expected inventory levels.

Whatever you choose, make it unique.


LinkedIn does not consider your profile complete unless you have three recommendations. The most meaningful, substantial recommendations you will receive are those from direct managers—but do not discount the value of customer/vendor recommendations, where that’s applicable. It’s also important to note that writing a good recommendation is time-consuming and sometimes difficult. Therefore, don’t be afraid to help a potential recommender by providing some guidance—ideally in CAR/PAR/STAR format.


Associations of disparate LinkedIn users who share a common experience, interest, or perhaps both, groups are a superb means whereby LinkedIn users can expand their reach by literally orders of magnitude. This is because with a group in common between yourself and another LinkedIn user, this can be the basis for sending a message, or even an invitation to connect. Your alma mater almost certainly has a LinkedIn group (common experience). Trade associations (common interest) definitely do: one of the largest is SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. So do certain large employers, who maintain LinkedIn groups for current and/or former employees.


This is a highly under-utilized part of LinkedIn. A status update goes out to all your first degree connections on LinkedIn. Maybe you’ll be attending a conference in your field: posting that status update might well lead to re-connecting with a friend you haven’t seen who’ll also be in town at the same time. That brings me to…


There are several applications—piece of software that integrate into your LinkedIn profile—that you can add. These are easily accessed through the horizontal menu across the top of the main LinkedIn page. Go to More|Application Directory. Several popular ones include blogs (Blog Link, WordPress), collaboration (Box.net is a personal favorite) and presentations (SlideShare and Google Presentation).

One of the newer Applications is Portfolio Display, which would be of great use to creative professionals. And a favorite of mine is Events, which allows you to view, create and potentially attend occasions that interest you. If you will be attending an event, the organizer(s) almost certainly created the event on LinkedIn: note your attendance, or at least interest. It might also be helpful to see where your contacts might be congregating as well.


There is nothing wrong with the fact that odds are there are tons of ways that you can leverage LinkedIn more fully than you are right now. Heck, I’ve been teaching people how to do this for close to 2 years now and not a week goes by I don’t learn something new myself. In fact, I literally did this morning.

Are there any best practices I missed? Comment and let me know what I missed!


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Harry Urschel, Phyllis Mufson, Alltop Facebook, Medical Notice, MyPath and others. MyPath said: @paigeholden I can give you those: Check out @ed_han's blog (and great LinkedIn tips to boot!) http://ht.ly/3ig0v […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Just a Few LinkedIn Best Practices « ed muses upon -- Topsy.com — 2010/12/01 @ 12:30 pm

  2. […] Sir or Madam” is never acceptable anywhere. The job seeker needs to network, research, use LinkedIn expertly, and find contact names. Worst case scenario is Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Human […]

    Pingback by See how you can create e-mail cover letters that work! | Solutions from Design Resumes & Thoughts from Julie Walraven — 2010/12/02 @ 8:14 am

    • I agree that it’s absolutely critical to avoid the use of “Dear Sir or Madam”, and I agree that LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to help candidates avoid it. But yes, networking should ideally do the same since these opportunities should be arising in target employers, into which the candidate is presumably trying to network. Excellent point!

      Comment by edmusesupon — 2010/12/02 @ 8:19 am

  3. Great advice! Also … I just realized it’s snowing on your blog. How cool!

    Comment by Noel — 2010/12/03 @ 5:13 pm

    • Noel, much obliged for the visit: thanks! I’ve spent a decent amount of time learning LinkedIn and hope that this proves useful to folks so they don’t have to invest the same amount of time I did.

      WordPress makes it easy to add snow: I really like their implementation.

      Thanks for visiting!

      Comment by edmusesupon — 2010/12/04 @ 10:08 am

  4. […] of the popularity of Just a Few LinkedIn Best Practices (which if you missed it, can be found here), it seemed like a few more are in […]

    Pingback by Just a Few More LinkedIn Best Practices « ed muses upon — 2010/12/15 @ 4:50 pm

  5. […] Just a Few LinkedIn Best Practices December 2010 6 comments 3 […]

    Pingback by edmusesupon:2010 in review « ed muses upon — 2011/01/03 @ 9:13 am

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    Pingback by 5 Things You Can Do When You Get the Axe « Career. Environment. Food. Stuff. — 2011/01/14 @ 1:14 pm

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