Experts rightly question whether the old adage about dressing for the job you want still holds up in the era of boardroom flip flops and tanks. But one piece of workplace wisdom that’s not up for debate — at least, not yet — holds that ambitious professionals need professional LinkedIn profiles.
On the world’s most important professional networking site, phoning it in isn’t good enough.
You probably have a LinkedIn profile already. Is it up to snuff? Review these five simple LinkedIn tips for rising corporate stars and decide for yourself.
1. Follow Your Current Career TrackBack to the Start
That summer camp counselor or back-of-house restaurant gig might have taught you everything you need to know about teamwork, but is it really relevant to what you’re doing right now?
As you rack up roles and promotions, mind the LinkedIn CV rule of thumb: include all positions relevant to your current career track.
Leave out long-ago junior positions that have no bearing on the present and more senior roles held prior to a mid-career change.
One major exception to this rule of thumb concerns founders, who should list every early-stage firm they’ve founded, advised, or served in senior leadership capacity.
2. Get a Stylized Avatar
Check out this LinkedIn profile for health exec Steve Dorfman. What jumps out?
Look closer at the headshot. It’s not a headshot at all — at least, not one you can snatch in any photo shoot you’ve ever been to.
Rather, it’s a stylized avatar that presumably bears no small resemblance to Mr. Dorfman’s likeness, minus the actual likeness.
Stylized avatars grab the attention and provide some measure of anonymity: a perfect balance for professionals looking to put themselves out there without getting too close to their contacts.
3. Source Relevant, Authoritative Endorsements and Recommendations
LinkedIn’s endorsement feature cuts both ways. It’s a great help for rising stars looking to enhance their credibility in the professional marketplace. But it also creates something of a credibility trap for folks with thin networks.
If your endorsement file is spotty or nonexistent, LinkedIn users viewing your profile might naturally wonder whether you’ve got the goods.
Use these tips to attract relevant, authoritative endorsements from people who actually know your work. And make sure you’re optimizing for the skills you have, not the skills you want.
4. Make New Connections, But Don’t Spam Former or Current Colleagues
If someone invites you to connect, confirm that you know them (or at least of them), or that their expertise or role is at least somewhat relevant to your own. Then, give them the benefit of the doubt.
Do the same with connections you forge on your own.
Look for potential connections whose roles and access complement your own, and invite liberally.
What you don’t want to do is hit “connect” on every single recommendation generated by LinkedIn’s algorithm. That’s spam by any other name.
Read also: 4 Networking Tips for Creating Professional Contacts
5. Regularly Publish Authoritative Content
LinkedIn isn’t just a place for colleagues to connect. It’s also a publishing platform — a potentially powerful one when used properly.
Aside from (perhaps) Medium, there’s no better place to publish authoritative long-form content in your area of expertise.
Get into a publishing rhythm — at least one post per week, cross-posted from your personal or professional website if need be.
Bring Your LinkedIn A-Game
It should be clear by now that LinkedIn is no place for half measures. Your profile needs to reflect where you want to be in five or seven years, not where you’re making your moves right now.
If that means you need to spend this Saturday afternoon upgrading your LinkedIn profile and making digital connections with colleagues past and present, so be it. Your LinkedIn A-game demands it — and your professional goals could well turn on it.