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LinkedIn is the premier professional social networking site, allowing users to connect with colleagues, perform research, and keep abreast of industry news and trends. But, with 500 million users and counting, it can be easy to get lost in the noise. However, by sticking to the following best practices, you can keep your profile looking fresh and maximize its effectiveness.

This isn’t Facebook, so a photo of yourself at the bar with friends or enjoying hike in the woods isn’t appropriate. Portray yourself as competent and professional by using a formal headshot, either by having someone snap a well-lit photo in front of a neutral background or by stopping by a local photo studio.

And don’t forget the background image. You don’t want to overpower your profile photo, but you do want to use the real estate to further emphasize your personality. This is a good area to include a photo of you in a more casual environment in order to make the profile more personal but be careful to keep the photo work friendly.

Your headline should be concisely written and keyword rich, while explaining what makes you an expert in your field. In other words, opt for “Experienced Registered Nurse with 10+ Years of Emergency Room Experience” vs. “Nurse”.

This is your opportunity to explain your professional qualifications, so be sure to include your most noteworthy achievements in the summary field and to complete as much of the profile as possible. Keep the descriptions very short; this is simply a list of highlights to prove your expertise in your field via tangible accomplishments.

Your LinkedIn profile can be thought of as an extended resume, so remember to include accomplishments and certifications that may not be as eye-catching to viewers, but are just as relevant to your overall professional profile.

Relevant information in a LinkedIn profile is of utmost importance. Remember, this isn’t Facebook, so no one is interested in that great bowl of Pho that you had for lunch last year. Include pertinent work history, giving emphasis to jobs that line up with your stated professional goals, and utilize the three URLs you are allotted to upload any online portfolios, resumes, or other important information.

But don’t stop there. Take the time to curate and post timely information on your wall in order to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you are posting content that you did not create be certain to give credit to the original author, but feel free to offer your own thoughts and opinions on the content to further the conversation with any followers that may interact with your profile.

There’s no shame in asking for recommendations from people that you’ve worked with in the past. But don’t just ask: Offer to give a recommendation in return if the contact that you are speaking to has earned it.

Last but not least, be SOCIAL and keep building your network! Someone with 1,000 connections inherently looks more established someone with 100, even if they don’t have as much experience, so keep reaching out to peers and participating in as many relevant groups as possible in order to build up your connections.

At its core, LinkedIn is a way for professionals to connect and share ideas, so jump in and participate in conversations that build up around posts or in groups, paying special attention to conversing with professionals that may be able to open a door to an opportunity for you down the road. And, if you’re on the hunt for a new temporary or full-time job, AtWork can help. Click HERE to find a branch near you today!