How to Elevate Your LinkedIn Game in 10 Easy Steps

LinkedIn can be magical. This social/professional platform can easily take your networking game from 0 to 100 — real quick.

Whether you’re looking for a new role, or simply just want to grow your network (which is ultimately your net worth!), LinkedIn provides the tools to bridge the gap between you and potential meaningful professional connections.

The initial set up of your LinkedIn account can be daunting, I know, but I promise your time and energy will be worth the investment.

Here are 10 easy steps I swear by to keep my LinkedIn game on point:

1) Use a (recent) professional headshot

First impressions matter. If you do choose to use an image of yourself on your profile*, it’s worth it to invest in a professional headshot taken by a photographer with a nice background, good lighting, etc. Professional headshots don’t need to be expensive either; check out Groupon or even Walmart Photo Studio and you’ll likely find options for under $40.

If cost is a barrier for you, no problem! Put on your favourite blazer (if that’s appropriate for your field), find some good lighting (natural preferred), and get a friend to take a shot of you on a smartphone using Portrait mode. Try to avoid using dimly lit selfies.

2) Be intentional with your headline

Think of your headline as your prime opportunity at an “elevator pitch”. You have 120 characters to potentially sell yourself to your dream employer/fellow professional/future business partner. Make it count. Use words that if someone knows nothing else about you, they know this.

Additionally, if you’re aspiring to a new role/career change, there’s no shame in adding that too! LinkedIn has a great search function and you never know who will find you.

3) Design a personalized professional header

This is more of a nice-to-have, but if you’re really trying to elevate your LinkedIn game, mastering your “personal brand” is key. You can create a custom header in free graphic design tools like Canva and include items like your logo, a quote, your titles/fields, etc. to really tie together your profile.

Not many people have custom headers right now, so this could really help you stand out from the crowd (or your competition).

4) Write a biography summarizing what you’re most proud of

Once someone’s sold on your gorgeous professional headshot + intrigued by your elevator pitch of a headline + dazzled by your custom designed header, the next step is to read your bio.

Keep in mind that the average human has a shorter attention span than a goldfish, so this is your chance to really highlight what makes you so awesome while trying to maintain their attention. Whether it’s your impressive work experience, your passion for your field, your collection of degrees/diplomas, etc. — make sure you speak to it in this bio.

Think of it like the extended elevator pitch: What do you NEED this person to know about you?

5) Keep your profile updated

If you left your old job one year ago and started at a new job 3 months ago, take the time to update your profile. If you just completed a course to upgrade your professional skills, take the time to update your profile. If you just wrapped up an amazing side project that showcases your talents, take the time to update your profile. See where this is going?

6) Provide links to your work

You know what tops describing your work with words? Describing your work with rich media like YouTube videos, images, presentations, sounds, etc. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s option to add media or links to support the work you’d like to highlight. Let people see how awesome you really are.

7) Add and update your skills

Though the skills section can sometimes get lost in your all-star profile, one of the most important reasons to have this section created and updated is for when employers post jobs directly on LinkedIn and have the option of sharing what skills are required for that job. If you consider applying, it’ll tell you (and the employer) how many of the skills you have, and also where you rank against the other applicants to the role.

8) Post content relevant to your industry

One #LinkedInHack to ensure you stay top of mind with your connections AND to appear as a thought leader in your field is to share content relevant to your industry and a quick blurb summarizing your thoughts of said content.

Chances are, the articles that interest you will also interest your connections. Don’t be a LinkedIn hermit that connects with people, then goes dark forever. Show off that big brain of yours!

9) Send relevant and industry-related content directly with your connections

Similar to the #LinkedInHack above but slightly more intimate — sharing relevant industry-related content directly to your connections is great because it keeps the conversation going on a 1:1 basis after you’ve connected.

Consider this scenario: One of your connections is connected to someone that works at your DREAM company. You want an introduction. What’s seems more sincere?

a) Asking them for an introduction after you just had a mini 1:1 conversation a couple months ago because you sent them an article that they could directly relate to/reminded of you them, or

b) Asking them for an introduction after you connected with them in 2012 and haven’t spoke to them again since.

You choose.

10) Don’t add people you don’t know/have no intention of ever actually conversing with. Also, LinkedIn is not Tinder.

Don’t be the person that adds any and everyone simply to have 43240329483209 connections. It’s not cool. Don’t do it. LinkedIn should be about having quality connections. Trim the fat and make intentional decisions of who you want to be connected with.

Also, please do not be the creep that tries to hit on people through InMail messages. Just don’t.

Bonus: Personalize your invitation requests

Sometimes it can be difficult for people to keep up with their connection invitations — especially after big networking events, conferences, etc. Sending a personal note is always a nice touch and increases the chance that the other party will remember you and accept you.

*For many people (especially IBPOC — Indigenous, Black, People of Colour), using a photo can actually hinder your job search/network growth opportunities. Do so at your own risk.