By Shai Coggins, Social Media Manager and Strategist at Vervely.comLinkedIn is one of the few social media platforms created primarily for professional networking. Did you know it’s also a great way to kick start your career and help establish a positive online reputation?Offhand, LinkedIn looks like an online resume. But, if used to its fullest potential, your LinkedIn profile can be a very powerful personal and professional branding platform. It’s one of the best ways to connect with people you already know through school, conferences, travel, volunteering and other activities. It's a place where you can get and give advice and build a broad network. Eventually, a well-connected LinkedIn profile will have 500 or more connections!Whether you are at the beginning of your career or already have a few years’ experience under your belt, there are many ways to make the most out of this social platform. One of the most important aspects of your LinkedIn account is Your Profile, which will help set a great first impression.Make sure you fill in at least the basic information, including adding a good photo. List at least your three most recent roles, which could be professional, internships or even volunteering. You can also list specific skills or experiences you wish to highlight. Regularly update your profile and fill in other details over time to keep it current. You never know when a recruiter might be checking it out!Want to know what makes a great online photo? Click here.Just starting your career? Definitely include your education level and activities, volunteer and professional experiences that show leadership, skills acquisition and team-work – traits that potential employers value.Pay attention to your headline/title + summary. This is the first thing people will see when viewing your LinkedIn profile. The words you use will help others easily find you on a LinkedIn search.
Highlight your expertise and interests. When filling out your profile, list skills that people can endorse you for. In addition to work-related skills, list those acquired through managing special projects or participation in school clubs, activities and volunteering. All these expereinces give your profile more depth and interest.Link your social platforms. If you have accounts on Twitter or Facebook, a blog, website or a SlideShare account, connect them to your LinkedIn profile. These links help pull your information together and support your online presence, further helping to grow a strong reputation.Just remember! When linking your social media profiles, you are merging your personal and professional lives, so be mindful of what you post across these different platforms and how that may affect your reputation.Start connecting with people you know! Once you add details to your profile, LinkedIn will suggest people to connect with. You can also search for specific people or even organisations, such as your university alumni group, or one that shares your passion. Following and participating helps you connect and learn from like-minded people.Personalise your invitations by writing a short note to acknowledge your connection rather than using the default invite text.Ask for – and give - recommendations. A key LinkedIn feature is the ability to give and receive recommendations based on the skills listed on your profile. If you know people who might be willing to write a recommendation for you, don’t be afraid to ask. Also, write recommendations for others. It’s good online networking etiquette to support those we feel deserve to be commended for their work.Once you have a robust profile, your connections – and online reputation – will grow!If you're not on LinkedIn yet, sign-up for a profile here. You can also join Microsoft’s Tech4Good LinkedIn group to connect with others who are interested in CSR.To learn more about Social Media Management and Strategy, you are welcome to add me to your list of LinkedIn connections.