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Luddites on LinkedIn: 5 basic things you must do

(MoneyWatch) Are you still on the fence about joining professional social network LinkedIn, or signed up but haven't filled out your profile? With more than 225 million members worldwide, it remains the best digital space for making connections that can be useful for work or finding a job. You don't have to spend days on end perfecting your profile. But you should take these small steps to make your presence worth a lot more, with minimal effort:

Say cheese. If you do nothing else to your profile, add a photo. "Your profile is seven times more likely to be viewed if you add a photograph," notes LinkedIn's career expert Nicole Williams. "We use the analogy that you're looking for a house and the listing is fantastic and you're like, 'This is perfect for me,' and then there's no picture. The question becomes 'Is this legitimate?'" (Not sure of which photo to upload? Read "LinkedIn: Choosing The Perfect Profile Pic.")

Fill out a little info. You don't have to fill out every last field, but every bit counts and can be the hook that attracts an important new contact. "It's essential to list all past experience that may reflect your ability to execute and problem-solve, even if you think it's irrelevant. Your profile is twelve times more likely to be viewed if you list a past experience," Williams says. In other words, less isn't more when it comes to your LinkedIn profile.

Learn to share. LinkedIn is an online community, so give and take as you would in real life. "If you've read a good article, share it with your community. You're illustrating the fact that you're learning things and you become known as an influencer within your community," Williams says. She adds that those who share just once a week increase their chances of their profile being viewed by a recruiter tenfold.

Join a group. Again, you don't have to join 20 groups -- a few will do. "Join groups related to your industry; the members of these groups will have discussions that can help you grow as a professional and provide you with an opportunity to share your expertise," says Williams, who also joined her alma mater's group and a group for working moms.

Check in regularly. Williams recommends logging on once a day. "If you spend just 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn you will know the important news about the industry you are in, you'll see who is making a professional move, you'll be able to research a prospective client and you can continue to build your professional brand." Being regularly active on LinkedIn before you're actively job-seeking is a smart idea. That way, when you do begin to job hunt, your page won't suddenly show a spike in activity -- a dead giveaway to your boss.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user TomChen1989

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