LinkedIn or Out? 5 Helpful Hints to Optimize Your LinkedIn Presence

linkFacebook. Twitter.  LinkedIn.  Instagram.  Whether it’s trying to get your (photo) tags up at GTJ’s upcoming happy hour in October, or ‘gramming your favorite food dishes with the #instafood hashtag,  we are all opting in and tuning into social media channels these days.  Out of all these social media channels, which one do you think is the oldest?

Most people would intuitively think Facebook is the oldest because of its social dominance.  However, “most people” would be wrong.

In fact, LinkedIn precedes them all with its conception in December 2002, while Facebook was launched by Zuckerberg in February 2004.  That’s right; LinkedIn is the oldest of all the social media siblings (Facebook is now the legal guardian of Instagram after its acquisition in April 2012 for about $1 billion; Twitter has beef with Instagram after Facebook adopted it; and well, LinkedIn is that one sibling that keeps away from the family – you know the one who moved to NYC and has a hot-shot job).  Anyways, here are 5 helpful hints on the optimizing your presence on LinkedIn:

1. Connect with your contacts: Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, I always find it hard to remember to connect my real life to my digital one.  Rather than opting into your Gmail account from LinkedIn and inviting all of your contacts, especially those who you do not want to add, first add your mentors from school and past job/internships.  Yes, now that you are a washed-up graduate, it’s time to think back to your favorite professors in college and connect with them on LinkedIn if they have them.  After all, they can be a great resource.

2) Upload a headshot: LinkedIn users are 7 times more likely to be viewed by others when they added a profile picture.  So whether you have a iPhone or you are borrowing your friend’s SLR camera, get a headshot of yourself wearing a nice shirt…you don’t even have to be wearing pants.

3) Add a project/publication: This is my favorite feature of LinkedIn thus far.  There’s a lot of talk about creating a digital resume/infographics to stand out from other applicants, but who needs that when you can showcase your hard work in front of all your peers?  LinkedIn allows its users to insert a “Project URL” that links your work from previous experiences.  Don’t have it online?  Upload it to a public Google doc and insert that URL so all your contacts (and HR reps) can see.

4) Join groups in your industry: Similar to connecting with your contacts, pretty self-explanatory.  Do a simple search for groups in your specialize industry.  Make sure to find active ones that host happy hours and other networking events.

5) Endorse/Recommend your connections: Leaving a job on good terms?  Similar to the “Like” button on Facebook, you can publicly endorse your managers and colleagues with skills they have.  Don’t be creepy and endorse the VP’s skills unless you have experienced his or her skills first hand.  Also, instead of asking a letter recommendation at the end of a job or internship, ask them to write one for you on LinkedIn.  That way you don’t have to go through the trouble of finding it the next time you land an interview.

Zach Schoengold is a public relations consultant in DC, specializing in the evolving field of digital communications. A recent graduate of Univ. of Maryland, outside of work he enjoys writing, golfing and hanging out with friends. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.