LinkedIn: 5 changes to make to your profile today

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Just like with romantic relationships, workouts and savings accounts, you get out of LinkedIn what you put into it. If you leave your profile relatively undeveloped, you're not using the site to its full potential. Besides filling out your experience and trolling your contacts for connections, there are some easy ways to make your profile much more effective, today. Here are five:

Accept invitations from strangers

On Facebook, connecting with strangers is dangerous. Criminals may monitor your page for personal info, like your vacations plans. Besides, your "friends" represent you, so why take a chance that a stranger might embarrass you? But on LinkedIn, connecting with people outside your immediate circle is imperative. "If you only accept invitations from people you know, why use LinkedIn? Outlook will suffice!" says Bruce Hurwitz, CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing. And he would know -- Hurwitz has 28,200 connections and adds about 300 each week.

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Update your profile every few weeks

Making tiny tweaks makes a huge difference to your profile's visibility. "Every time you make any change in your LinkedIn profile, the update is shared with everybody in your network," notes Bettina Seidman, founder of SEIDBET Associates. You don't have to completely revamp your page -- simply adding a new skill will get you back on people's radar. It's the less obtrusive equivalent of emailing each person and saying "Remember me?"

Explain your role, not just your title

Your resume naturally explains what you did in each prior role to show what you could do in a new position. Do the same with LinkedIn. "Every description should convey scale, scope and impact -- what you did, why it was important and how it helped the organization," says small business consultant Shawn Graham. Potential employers or collaborators will then know what you can provide--above and beyond other people with a similar title.

Join LinkedIn groups

These groups are a simple way to open doors to many new and relevant contacts at once. "You can add a contact on LinkedIn if you share the same group as them, but you wouldn't have been able to add them otherwise unless you worked with them or have their email address. Make sure the LinkedIn groups are related to your field and/or industry so you can have more targeted searches," says Dan Schawbel, managing partner, Millennial Branding LLC.

Use LinkedIn Classmates

In October 2011, LinkedIn Classmates was launched to connect people to other alumni of particular educational institutions. Click on a school, then an industry, then a location and -- bam! The database sorts through the muck so you can see who in your city works in your industry and has the common denominator of having gone to the same college or graduate school. It's an easy way to reconnect with classmates who you might not realize are in the same field, or discover a commonality with a stranger (see above) who went to your alma mater.

  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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