Are you getting the most value out of LinkedIn? Are you even using it at all? If your company is in the B2B sector and you answered “no” to either of those questions, you should really reconsider.

LinkedIn is a powerful business tool that can be utilized to promote the brand of an organization or individual, showcase thought leadership, assist in networking and even advertise. Today, it’s used by more than 500 million people. And LinkedIn drives more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs — more than Twitter, Facebook and “all other” combined.

Site features allow users to share updates, publish articles, upload video, learn new skills, give and get recommendations, form and join industry-related groups, create and share presentations, advertise, find a job, recruit employees and more. It can be used to research the competition, find an “in” with potential clients or business partners, outsource projects and keep up on industry news.

But like any tool, to get value from it, you need to know how to use it. With that in mind, here are 8 things you can do to use LinkedIn more effectively:

  1. Choose an appropriate profile photo.

Yes, sister, that selfie in the strapless gown is hot. And brother, your goofy expression in the pub crawl shot is hilarious. But a picture is still worth 1,000 words and an inappropriate LinkedIn profile picture says all the wrong words in bold CAPITAL letters.

Your profile picture should reflect your job role by showing you in the clothing, hairstyle and makeup you wear to work. It should be a professionally photographed head shot — or as close to one as possible. An appropriate head shot says you take your work seriously. Bonus: Profiles with photos get 21 times more views and 36 times more messages than picture-less profiles.

  1. Use the background as a billboard.

Think of the background photo as a billboard that can give viewers more information about you or your company. While you could use stock imagery or a landscape photo, up your game for maximum brand-building: Use a picture of your work, yourself on the job, you volunteering for a charity — anything that fits in with your career.

For best results, background images should be 1,584 pixels wide by 396 pixels high and nearly 8 MB in size. If the image you post looks oddly stretched or cropped, it is the wrong dimensions. If it looks blurry, the image size is too small.

  1. Rock that headline.

Next to images, headlines grab the most attention. While most people commonly use their current job title, you can — and should — get creative here. The headline can be your brand pitch; your value proposition. So instead of “Digital Marketing Specialist,” you might be “Revolutionizing the Way Nonprofits Attract and Keep Donors.”

Here’s something else to consider: Your LinkedIn headline also appears in search results. When your name pops up in a Google search, do you want it to say something bland like “SEO Expert at XYZ Agency,” or something much more memorable, like “I’ve helped 10 companies rank #1 in organic search results — looking for No. 11.”

  1. Create a vanity URL.

LinkedIn allows you to create a personalized URL, such as It ensures that your name is the first thing search engines see on your profile. Take advantage of this to build your personal brand. To maximize the effect, share your vanity URL in your email signature, on all your other social networks, in your resume and even on your blog.

  1. Shine in your Summary.

The Summary and Experience sections of your profile are your chance to really shine. Many people use these sections as a place to stick their resume — and that’s the quickest way to get overlooked by recruiters and peers alike.

By all means, detail your skills here. Make sure you’re using keywords for each job skill so that you will be found in search results. But go a step further and personalize your Summary by sharing accomplishments, goals, your vision for your career or your company — even humor or personal stories that show your character.

  1. Feed, water and prune your network.

It’s tempting to connect with everyone, but it’s better to be selective. Surround yourself with success — from industry leaders and peers to former classmates and colleagues. Continually feed and water your growing network by asking for introductions or making requests to connect with people you want to know. You can increase your reach even more by joining or forming a LinkedIn group.

Don’t be afraid to decline invitations or to unfollow or remove connections that are no longer a good fit. Pruning your network allows you to focus on posts from relevant people in your news feed. Like, comment or share their posts to strengthen your connections.

  1. Publish, share, repeat.

One of the best ways to establish yourself as a thought leader, build credibility and attract a larger following is to publish articles — not just updates — on LinkedIn. The publishing platform works like a blog. In fact, you can copy and paste a blog post into the platform, add an image and include hyperlinks. Like a blog post, your articles should be aimed at a specific audience (or audiences), and explore an issue or answer a question. Long-form articles — 400 to 2,000 words — are shared more than short posts and updates.

On a related note, in an earlier post we mentioned that video is one of the biggest current marketing trends. Now that LinkedIn allows native video — video that is hosted rather than shared as a link — there’s more reason to post your video blogs, marketing videos and whiteboard videos on LinkedIn.

  1. Use SlideShare to add content.

SlideShare has become one of the top 100 most visited websites in the world, largely because more than 19.7 million presentations have been shared through its integration with LinkedIn. SlideShare enables you to add webinars, videos, PowerPoint presentations and more directly to your LinkedIn profile. These types of presentations boost profile views. Adding content via SlideShare can also boost SEO because it’s indexed by Google.

Could you use some professional help to maximize and optimize your LinkedIn presence? Contact Chris Murray (610.254.7422 or Kim Landry (610.254.7425