Don’t Dismiss LinkedIn as Something Only for People Who Are Looking for a New Job.

The best time to build your LinkedIn profile, connect with people, and participate on LinkedIn is now — before you need it. If you find yourself suddenly unemployed and decide that now is the time to start using LinkedIn, you are going to be playing catch up. Instead, take time to “dig your well before you’re thirsty,” as author Harvey Mackay says.

Don’t “Set it and Forget It.”

Your LinkedIn profile is an evolving snapshot of you. You should be updating it regularly with new connections, status updates and/or LinkedIn Publishing articles, and other activity (such as commenting on other people’s posts).

Don’t Ignore It.

Check in on LinkedIn regularly — at least every other day if you are in active job search mode; at least once a week for passive jobseekers. Plan on adding a new status update each time you log in. 

Don’t Be a Wallflower.

LinkedIn is most effective when you participate. Seek out opportunities to connect with thought leaders in your industry. Participate in conversations. When you comment on connections’ updates, that activity will be visible on your profile, so speak up!

Don’t Be Selfish.

You will get more out of LinkedIn if you focus on how, you can help others, not how they can help you. The phrase “give to get” is very powerful on LinkedIn. You can earn the respect of your peers and people of influence if you “help enough other people get what they want,” in the words of Zig Ziglar.

Don’t Wait for Others to Find You.

Use the LinkedIn search function to look for people you know and invite them to connect with you. You should aim to add 2-5 new connections each week if you are a passive job seeker, and 6-10 connections a week if you are actively searching for a new job. Build your network slowly, not all at once.

Don’t Forget to Explore the People Your Connections Know.

One of the most powerful functions of LinkedIn is the ability to connect you with people who are connections of the people you know (using the “six degrees of separation” principle). Follow LinkedIn’s guidelines on connecting with these folks (using InMail or requesting connections through your mutual friend), so that your account is not flagged for spam.

Don’t Indiscriminately Try to Connect with People.

One of the strengths of LinkedIn is the connections you make, but it’s not a race to get to 500+ connections. Have a reason for each of the people you connect with — either it’s someone you already know or are related to or someone it would be beneficial to connect with. If you don’t know someone, get to know them a bit before sending a personalized connection request. (You can do so by seeing who you have in common — or who they are connected to, checking out their LinkedIn Summary and work history, visiting their website or blog, and seeing what Groups they belong to). 

Don’t Restrict Your LinkedIn Networking to Online Only.

Use LinkedIn to connect with people — but then request in-person get-togethers, when possible. Meet for coffee, or lunch, to catch up. 

Don’t Forget to Check Your Settings Regularly.

LinkedIn sometimes makes behind-the-scenes changes that can affect your existing privacy and profile settings. Make it a habit to check your settings to make sure you’re showing — or not showing (or sharing) — what you want.

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Madelyn Mackie

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