You can no longer ignore LinkedIn. It is the Number One social networking site for professionals looking for new opportunities. With one user being added every single second, LinkedIn has been growing exponentially and has now reached 300 million members across 200 countries.

Having a LinkedIn profile is not enough. With more people and businesses adding their profiles every day,the challenge is how to be at the top of searches done daily by headhunters, HR directors, employers and prospective clients.

LinkedIn uses an internal set of algorithms to prioritize certain profiles over others. Therefore the businesses and people who have optimized their accounts correctly have an advantage in using the network to boost exposure and grow business.

How can you optimize your LinkedIn profile to get a strong ranking in the network’s internal searches?

1. Get serious about your photo.

Adding a picture makes your profile seven more times likely to be viewed by others. Your photo should be a good quality headshot – with only you in it. LinkedIn is not Facebook.

2. Brand your professional headline.

In order to encourage millions of LinkedIn visitors to look at your profile and find out more about you, use the 110 characters in your professional headline to your advantage. Rather than putting only your job title, add your industry or expertise. Use relevant search engine optimized keywords in your headline to have a greater chance of being found by similar professionals. For example, saying « Import-Export & International Sales professional » as well as « Account Executive at xxx » will boost your chances of being spotted by people in the same industry.

3.Optimize your geographical location.

People search for professionals in specific locations.

4. Fill out your profile completely.

This is one of the most important ways to improve your position in LinkedIn‘s search results. Not only does this provide LinkedIn with additional opportunities to find search-related keywords in your profile, but the site is also more likely to rank completed profiles over partially finished ones.

5. List all the jobs you’ve had.

Rather than just listing your current and past jobs with your title and company, describe what you have done and accomplished. Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume where people can instantly find out your expertise and get an understanding of your current and past experiences.

6. Add in professional skills and expertise.

While doing that, think again about search-engine optimized keywords that define your career. Although you could add up to 50 skills, focus on adding ten solid skills that will summarize you as a professional. Think about what skills you want to be recognized for. Endorse others first, so they will endorse you in return. Don’t be shy about deleting the skills you don’t want to be known for.

7. Get recommendations

From colleagues (past and present), employers, etc. These will boost your credibility. People are happy to give recommendations, especially if you offer to return the favor by writing one for them.

8. Use relevant search keywords

In the summary, title and throughout your profile. The keywords in your profile should be those that a potential employer or client would probably enter into the LinkedIn search bar. Make sure your profile appears in search results by searching on keywords (eg « Social Media Professional, Paris), looking at the top results and noticing the location and frequency of keywords. Now, apply this to your profile.

9. Expand your network.

Linkedin prefers to display results first that have some connection to the search user, even if those connections are only second or third level. By expanding your network, you will improve your profile’s visibility in search results. First, connect to all your past co-workers, managers, classmates, clients, etc. The next step is to reach out to new contacts, people who share your professional interests and qualifications.

10. Join LinkedIn groups and participate.

Find relevant groups by searching with industry-specific keywords or looking at the groups your connections are members of.  Joining a group is not enough though. Contribute in a positive and professional way by joining ongoing discussions to share your views and start new debates.

11. Customize your Linkedin URL.

Use a customized URL, such as, instead of the standard URL generated by LinkedIn.

12. Post regular status updates.

Share insightful and thoughtful ideas about your industry (not about your life!)

Remember, whatever activity you engage in on LinkedIn will always lead people to your profile, so make sure your profile is something you can be proud of.

This article was first published in BusinessOFeminin, the international women’s business magazine.

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