LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your work and add to an overall positive online professional identity. In our opinion, it is the only “must-have” of social accounts for working adults.

Before you set one up, search to be sure you don’t already have one. We find lots of old LinkedIn profiles out there for clients…sometimes more than one. Here are instructions for merging or closing duplicate accounts.

Pull together the following items before you start on your profile.

  • Fresh resume – This will make creating the different sections of the profile easier. If you don’t already have these items in your resume, prepare them for your LinkedIn profile.
    • Work experience – Employers, dates, and details about your responsibilities.
    • Education – Schools, dates, and details about your studies.
    • Licenses & certifications – Don’t need numbers; just organizations.
    • Volunteer experience – Organizations, dates, and details about your role.
    • Professional organizations and memberships
    • List of your skills
  • Updated headshot – It should look like the current you in professional attire. A solid background works well, as does outdoor greenery. If you happen to have any work pictures, those can work well in other spots on your profile. You’ll also need a horizontal photo for a background. This can be a good place for a branded photo, a professional landscape, or something personal that looks professional.

Now, you are ready to create a great profile.

Setting it up is pretty self-explanatory. On work, education, and other experiences, link to the organizations and include as many details as you feel comfortable sharing. Upload media where it makes sense like pictures of your team, announcements, or examples of your work. Here are some tips from LinkedIn on creating a solid profile.

It’s time to engage.

Once you have a profile, invite people to connect. Different people will offer different opinions, but we still hold the belief that connecting with someone on LinkedIn is an endorsement. So, we only recommend connecting with people you actually know and would recommend working with. Adding a personal note to connection requests is a nice touch.

If you want to move from just being on LinkedIn to engaging on LinkedIn, start posting, sharing, commenting, and liking. You may want to consider “featuring” some posts that particularly highlight your skills, services, or your company. You can follow companies, groups, and schools. It is a good way to connect with others. You can also give and ask for recommendations. And, you can endorse others for their skills.