So you’ve signed up to LinkedIn. Kudos.

Before you know it you’ll be surfing the professional networks, establishing connections and creating exciting opportunities for yourself and your business.

But there’s a slight problem. You don’t have a profile.

Building a profile is the first step towards starting your LinkedIn use, however for many it can be a tripping point. A good profile can say a lot about you, give people a snapshot of your professional credentials, and encourage them to engage with you on a professional level. A bad profile can leave people wondering who you are, what you do, and why you’re trying to connect. This guide will take you step by step through the main points from building your first profile.

Get a picture!

Frequently this can be a tricky topic for users. Either they don’t have a suitable picture or they’re not sure they want a picture of themselves up on the internet. A profile picture is typically a necessity, as not being able to put a face to the name can be quite disconcerting. The type of picture is important but not difficult, it should simply be a nice respectable picture of you, smiling if possible.

What’s a Summary?

A summary is a basic rundown of your current status, previous experience, and areas of speciality. LinkedIn has tonnes of examples of these, and if you’re not sure just start randomly checking pages to get a feel for it. Always write in the 3rd person and be as economic with your phrasing as possible. People will usually not read a long summary so keep it to a few sentences at absolute maximum.

Work Experience

This can be a tough area to fill out (despite seeming relatively straightforward) as most are unsure of stating too much or too little information. Generally the key to this is moderation. Include the major working points of your career, the major duties in each job (the important ones, not the one where you were on tea rotation) and then leave it at that. If you’re job was more than a few years ago you don’t need to go in to massive detail about it.

Keywords

This may seem to be a minor part of the profile, but may well in fact be the most important (or at least, the most critical not to have) aspect of the process. The “Skills & Expertise” section allows you to list the areas you’re particularly good or interested in. This is not just for your profile, this will also allow keyword searches to rank your profile higher. Essentially, when people are looking for someone with, say, social media marketing skills, you can rise higher in that ranking by having it as one of your skills. This will ensure that when you want to be found, you will be.

 

There are a number of other elements involved in creating an online profile, however these are best discovered yourself, as you scan other profiles to see what you think works and what doesn’t and become more familiar with LinkedIn. Typically you should only place as much information online as you’d be happy to discuss with a complete stranger, however in this case you will most likely find that if you give a little, you’ll get a lot back.