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LinkedIn Quick Start Guide for Newbies

LinkedIn guide photo
Photo by nan palmero

At first glance, LinkedIn seems a bit more complicated than some of the more popular social media networks. Don’t let it intimidate you; it’s actually quite simple to master. LinkedIn provides offers a straight forward way for individuals and businesses to hire, market and sell through a very targeted platform. It’s a step up from Facebook in that it’s a site specifically for professionals. You won’t see mom’s sharing TMI about their child’s potty habits.

As a newbie, you’ll want to jump on this, so here are some quick tip to get you started.

Use a Free Account

At least in the beginning, there is no need to upgrade your account to a paid LinkedIn account. The free version provides more than you’ll need until you become accustomed to and use all the available features at your disposal. With a free account you can:

  • Create a Professional Profile
  • Build a Network of Connections or Contacts
  • Join Other People’s Networks
  • Participate in & Create Groups
  • Search for Companies, Jobs & People
  • Send Messages & Get Answers
  • Make Comments On Posts
  • Utilize Multiple Applications
  • Set Up Personalized Searches

Both the paid and premium versions have all those features plus, you can send emails to people you don’t know, and become a member of the OpenLinked group (NOTE: that means people can contact you without knowing you directly). In addition, you get priority customer service, more search results, and you can store and save data in an online folder. Plus, you get access the full names of  in their profile.

You can upgrade at any time, so until you are accustomed to the vast features of the free account there is no reason to get a premium account at this time. Joining is quick and easy. If you’ve never joined, when you go to the home page there is sign up window to register. Fill this out using your full real name and the email address you use most. Be cautious about using your work email unless you own the business.

Set Up Your Profile

When you fill out the form as the system prompts you you’ll have completed a lot of your profile. Keep in mind that in most cases you can go back and edit later, but why not fill it out as accurately as possible now? This will eliminate the need to edit later, and when you know going in that you should fill everything out as completely and as honestly as possible in a professional manner you can’t go wrong.

Currently there are several parts to your profile:

  • Your Name — This should, of course, be your real name that you use in business. Don’t try to be clever and use a fake name. This is your online professional identity and you must be yourself.
  • Your Headline — This will appear under your name, and should describe what you do, not where you work. Think in terms of using keywords and keyword phrases separated by the pipe symbol instead of a sentence or phrase.
  • Your Photograph — This should be a photo of your face with a plain no distracting background. People want to see the real you that includes your eyes, nose and mouth. This is not the time to put the photo of you downing giant margaritas, this is the time to demonstrate your most professional image. (I know, I know. I don’t have MY photo posted yet; but in this instance do as I say and NOT as I do.)
  • Your Work History / Experience — Include every aspect of your work history that relates to your goals with your account. For instance, if you used to be a bookkeeper 20 years ago, but you have no intention of being one now, focus on what you want to do now as you fill out your work history.
  • Extras — You’ll notice on that within the profile are some extra little spots that you can add information to such as videos, images and documents. You can add these later if you’re not ready.
  • Education — This section is exactly what it says, add in your education, and any certificates that you have that demonstrate your knowledge in your profession.
  • Additional Info — This area asks that you include interests, personal details, and how to contact you. Please put something in here that isn’t too off track of your goals for your future. Be cautious about putting something in interests that is too controversial and not related to your business.

After You’ve Gotten Started, It’s Important to Participate

Honestly, I can’t stress this point enough. Once you have your profile up, it’s time to start making connections. Start with current and past coworkers and/or any students from the schools you’ve attended. Connect to them, and ask for recommendations right away. Send them personalized requests though; please don’t send tout requests to multiple people in bulk.

Next, join a few targeted groups that involve your target audience. Your target audience are the people you want to connect and build relationships with. For example, if you’re using LinkedIn to expand your business, you’ll join groups with potential buyers. If you are using it to network and move advance your career, you’ll want to join groups with individuals you’d consider potential colleagues. Once you join the groups, participate in discussions so that you really reap the benefits.

As you become more experienced navigating LinkedIn, you’ll find more ways of leveraging it to expand your reach and increase your connections. Just keep at it and it will pay off.


Need a professionally developed LinkedIn profile that positions you as the expert in your field that you are who also happens to be as fascinating on social media as in real life? Well then, we should talk. Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850 or email: 

Kimberly Ben is a multi-credentialed Professional Resume and LinkedIn Writer and Job Search Coach. She has written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and other career communications for multiple career industries and professions. Kimberly’s extensive education, training, and experience have resulted in a clear understanding of current hiring best practices and the most effective job search techniques, branding strategies, and insight on what it takes to gain the competitive edge and impress employers in a challenging job market.

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