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4 Easy Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

In the race to see who will own social media, LinkedIn can if nothing else claim to be the first to publicly sell out. But there's more to business networking than an opportunity for Reid Hoffman to join the ranks of the über-rich. Savvy business people increasingly see LinkedIn as a critical place to find new employees, recognize existing ones, troll for sales prospects, and build their own digital brand. Here are some tricks you can tap to buff up your own LinkedIn profile:

  • Create a custom URL. This helps your profile rank more highly in Google and LinkedIn search results, according to LinkedIn spokesperson Erin O'Harra. "And it'll be a lot prettier to put on a business card," she adds. Click the "Edit" hyperlink at the bottom of your blue profile box next to "Public Profile" and your current URL. On the next page, click "Customize your public profile URL" and type in your preferred URL. Try "firstnamelastname" and if that doesn't work, "lastnamefirstname."
  • Strut your smarts (and tap other people's) via Answers. This is under the "More" toolbar button. You can ask any question you want, or answer someone else's. After a week, the questioner tags the best answer. If you give the best answer, you get a badge on your profile that calls attention to your expertise. O'Harra says participating in Answers is a way to clients, partners or others looking for a specific skill. "By answering a question, that may open the door to a new relationship," she says.
  • Be a joiner. LinkedIn has all kinds of groups. Two I belong to are LinkedIn for Journalists and Owners Only on BNET. "Groups are a good way to connect with other people in your industry and find out what the thought leadership is," O'Harra says. "You can also find vendors and sometimes new hires. It's a great way to make new connections."
  • Have your employees create their own profiles. This can be part of your overall public relations strategy to raise and improve your business's image, says Shane Bernstein, managing partner of IT staffing company Q. "The better their profiles and experience, the better your company looks," he says. Bernstein also suggests that managers post recommendations on employee pages in recognition of their contribution to the company.
Whatever you do on LinkedIn, think it through and talk about it with marketing people. LinkedIn is more than job-hoppers seeking their next position. It's a social network that lets you create a digital image of your company. Make sure that image is one you want. "The most important thing is for an entire company -- from the C-level suite, all the way to entry-level employees -- to embrace a strategy and stick to it," Bernstein says.

Mark Henricks is an Austin, Texas, freelance journalist whose reporting on business, technology and other topics has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and other leading publications. Learn more about him at The Article Authority. Follow him on Twitter @bizmyths.

Image courtesy of Flickr user renaissancechambara, CC2.0

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