Social media expert's advice on making the most out of LinkedIn

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What was once a slightly annoying, recruiter-heavy website with an online version of your CV and a glitchy app, is now a far more sophisticated social network used by millions of professionals globally to connect with peers and prospects (and, yes, sometimes still recruiters), share content and engage with others.

These are my top five tips to get the most out of LinkedIn as a valuable, networking and business development tool:

1. Customise your headline. Your headline follows you around on LinkedIn so make it work for you. It’s visible alongside your photo on your profile as well as any search results you appear in and any comments you make on others posts. Your headline is automatically populated with your current job title but you can change this to anything you like, within a 120 character limit.

2. Customise your URL. When you’re viewing your LinkedIn profile does the URL contain a bunch of numbers and letters? You can edit this URL and customise it with your name which just makes everything look a lot neater and more succinct to share on your business cards and email signature.

3. Write an authentic, keyword-rich summary. Writing a fantastic LinkedIn profile is easier said than done and should not be attempted unless you’re in an articulate and creative mood. I personally find LinkedIn summaries that are written in the third person a little odd and impersonal, so I’d recommend writing in the first person and try to make it authentic and compelling. Keywords are important here too because you want to be discovered by people who are looking for your skills and expertise.

4. Make strategic connections. Don’t feel you just have to accept random LinkedIn requests to grow your networks. Be proactive and search for the people you want to connect with. Try searching by job titles or companies and, of course, don’t forget specific people you’ve met or worked with before!

5. Share valuable content. No one wants to see pictures of your baby or your dog on LinkedIn - save that for Facebook. Content that works well on LinkedIn includes industry news, company updates, useful tips and value-adding thought leadership. Think about the posts and articles that you enjoy and try and reciprocate with your network.

LinkedIn can be a valuable business tool, but you do need to put the work in to optimise your profile and build a great network to get the most out of it.

Kerry Watkins is the managing director of Social Brighton and is leading a Brighton Chamber Bite-sized Learning: Maximise the value of LinkedIn for Business on November 6. For more information, visit: www.businessinbrighton.org.uk/events