Locking in on LinkedIn

The time and energy you invest in LinkedIn can be rewarded with job opportunities and client referrals, as well as heightened respect from colleagues and competitors.LinkedIn is much more than a professional networking site. However, you need to dedicate time and energy to optimize its value.

If, for example, you ignore your LinkedIn account, you will miss daily alerts about your colleagues who have new jobs or job anniversaries. In addition to the cue, LinkedIn makes it easy to congratulate your colleague, creating an opportunity to renew or refresh your contact. 

Even if you have an extensive set of connections on LinkedIn, you can get lost on the social media site by failing to post anything. LinkedIn provides an excellent opportunity to post thought leadership pieces or share content you find valuable.

LinkedIn claims users who post content at least once a week are 10 times more likely to receive job and other professional leads. At a minimum, you keep your name top-of-mind among your professional network.

As with any form of networking, you want to project a glass-half-full personality. Downer comments can drive people away from your profile, not to it. 

Another LinkedIn tip is to make your picture match your aspirations. If you look the part, LinkedIn says you are seven times more likely to get the gig. It never hurts to sport a smile while you're at it. 

The meat and potatoes of a LinkedIn site is your profile — professional history, current employment and special skills. You can solicit recommendations from satisfied clients or admiring colleagues. You also can rack up endorsements for your relevant skills. It is an animated resume that can be updated as frequently as needed.

LinkedIn is not Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It is intended as a professional networking site, so you need to treat it as a virtual form of the cocktail party with your target clients or customers. Don't share where you are having dinner, your thoughts on your favorite football team's scoring drive or an indulgent selfie.

The advantage of LinkedIn over the cocktail party networking circuit is that you can cast a wide net and keep that net in play with a lot more people over a larger area. It is also cheaper if you pour your own glass of wine at your computer.

According to LinkedIn, it has 175 million members and offers features that allow people hunting for certain skills in specific places to find you. If the light is out on your LinkedIn site, you may never know anyone scoped you out. Enrolling for a Premium account, which allows you to see who is looking at your profile, is well worth the price.