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How to build a professional profile using LinkedIn

There’s more to LinkedIn than looking for a job or connecting with ex-colleagues. It’s great for networking, promoting yourself and building a professional profile.

LinkedIn can also be used to:

  • showcase your previous and current work experience
  • share and find useful content and insights
  • find common connections and make new contacts
  • research people and organisations

Things you'll need

  • A LinkedIn profile

Build up your profile

Write an attention-grabbing summary

Tell people about yourself. This shouldn't be your life story, but give a brief overview of your skills and experience, interests and what you're currently working on - but in an interesting, 'how I stand out from the crowd' kind of way.

Include all relevant work experience

It’s really important to ensure your current (as well as past) work experience is up to date and as detailed as possible. This will help build a picture of your professional skills and experience, give an insight into what your current role involves and help you find relevant or potentially useful connections.

Include stuff you've worked on

LinkedIn allows you to add a variety of media such as videos, images, documents, links, and presentations to the 'Summary, Education, and Experience' section of your profile so you can showcase projects you’ve worked on.

Move important sections to the top

You can change the order sections appear on your profile, so if you have some impressive recommendations, you might want to make these more visible by moving them to the top. When in edit mode, simply hover your mouse over the double-sided arrow in each section. Your mouse will turn into a four-arrowed icon, at which point you can click, then drag and drop to another position on your profile.

Customise your public profile URL

Make your personal profile look more professional and easier to share by customising your LinkedIn public profile URL with your name. Hover over the current url until a cog appears. Click on this to add a customised url.


Connect with people

Connections are two-way relationships between people who know each other. Your network is made up of 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, 3rd-degree connections, and fellow members of your LinkedIn groups.

  • 1st-degree - people you're directly connected to because you've accepted their invitation to connect, or they've accepted your invitation. You can contact them by sending a message.
  • 2nd-degree - people who are connected to your 1st-degree connections. You can send them an invitation by clicking 'connect'. 
  • 3rd-degree - people who are connected to your 2nd-degree connections. If their full first and last names are displayed, you can send them an invitation by clicking 'connect'.

Making a new connection

Find the person you wish to connect with, and click on the 'connect' button. When requesting a new connection you’ll be asked to state how you know that person. You can edit the default text with a personal message, offering more information about why you want to connect.

If someone you don’t know tries to connect with you, feel free to ignore these requests. It is up to you whether you accept them or not.

Following people

If you haven’t actually meant someone but want to see what they’re up to and the content they’re sharing, you can use the follow function. This is a one-way link which means you can access their content and information without having to actually connect with them.  You may find, if you start sharing more content and raising your profile, you will attract more followers. 


Share great content

LinkedIn is great for sharing content. This is a handy way to build your profile around specific areas of interest and help spread key messages about the organisation you work for.

There are three ways you can share content on LinkedIn.

1. Share an update

This is great for sharing articles or blog posts and adding your own commentary. This content will appear in your timeline, and your connection's timelines. If a connection interacts with it (ie likes or comments) it will then appear in their timeline for their connections to see.

You can share these updates with your Twitter followers at the same time. Simply select the 'Everyone + Twitter' option in the 'Share With' drop down before clicking 'Share' in the update composer. Don’t forget that Twitter only allows 140 characters, so if your update is longer than this, it will appear as a link.

2. Share a post

This could be used to share a longer piece of content, such as a blog post. If your post has appeared elsewhere (ie on your organisation's blog), it's best to add the first paragraph or write a summary of your post, and include a link back to the original site for the full post. However, if you don't have a blog, you could use this part of LinkedIn as a mini blogging platform. You could also use this to add notes from an event or training you’ve attended. People can comment on these posts so make sure you keep an eye on this and reply to get dialogue going.

These posts will appear in your timeline as well as sitting on your profile so it's a great way of showcasing your knowledge and experience in specific areas.

3. Share other people's content

You can also comment on and share other people's update and posts, which again, is a great way of sharing your knowledge and expertise. If you share external links or articles, make sure you cite the original source, and add your own insights or reasons for sharing it.


Explore groups

LinkedIn Groups provide a place for people in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.

You can search for a group via LinkedIn’s directory or in the search  bar at the top of every page.

Join groups to find and share knowledge and expertise, network with other people and access useful resources. To get the most out of groups, try and actively participate - don't just lurk in the background!


Don't forget privacy issues

If you want to be a little more selective over who gets to see what information about you, check out the'privacy & settings' options.

A particularly useful option is to choose whether people are notified when you edit or update your profile. To change this, click on your profile thumbnail at the top right of the screen to access 'privacy & settings'. Select 'choose whether or not to share your profile edits'. 

Get to know this section and have a look at the different options to make sure are in control over what information people can see about you.

Further information

Other quick tips:

  • Don’t forget that LinkedIn is a professional networking tool only. While it’s ok to share personal interests on Twitter, your LinkedIn updates should be strictly professional - no cat photos!
  • Get connecting. Use LinkedIn to keep in touch with people you’ve met at events, training or meetings
  • If you don’t want people to see that you’ve viewed their profile, you can change this in your settings (in 'privacy & settings, click on ‘select what others see when you've viewed their profile’, and then check the ‘you will be totally anonymous’ option). If you select this option, you won’t be able to see who has viewed your profile
  • Use LinkedIn as a research tool and a source of information. Ask questions, gather feedback and, see what other people are sharing and learn more about organisations with your own LinkedIn research
  • Add your custom URL to your work email signature and Twitter bio
  • Download the new, improved app so you can use LinkedIn on the go!


Page last edited Apr 13, 2017 History

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