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LinkedIn is one social network that matters, regardless of whether you’ve jumped on the Facebook/MySpace/Twitter bandwagon.

While some Web 2.0 tools are about socializing and idea-swapping, LinkedIn is the only tool completely devoted to business networking. Nurturing your online presence could lead to job offers, new knowledge or a beefed-up reputation as an expert.

Here’s how to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile:

Add an “elevator pitch” under your name. Keep it short and succinct but personal.

Example: “Administrative assistant. Team leader. Microsoft whiz. Communicator extraordinaire.”

Post a photo. “People want to see who they’re dealing with, and it is helpful to match a face with a name on a business card after a busy conference,” points out Sheila Scarborough, who writes about Web 2.0 topics. Use a good, professional headshot.

Update “What are you working on?” frequently.
Call attention to projects you’re working on, something you’ve learned recently or an interesting link. In the column of “Network Updates” that appears on your LinkedIn home page, you’ll see a running list of what others are working on. Look for points of commonality.

As workplaces grow increasingly diverse, business networking skills are rarer – and more important – than ever before. To help your team develop this critical ability, we’ve developed this presentation: Business Networking: How the Well-Connected Employee Can Help Your Business

Follow up an in-person meeting with a virtual connection. Know how people sometimes send a friendly follow-up e-mail after they’ve swapped business cards? Try sending a request to connect on LinkedIn.

Ask and answer questions.
“This builds your credibility as an expert within your profession,” says Scarborough. “If your answer is chosen as a ‘best answer’ by the one who asked the question, you can show that in your profile.”

Recommend colleagues and ask for recommendations. Join groups, such as the tip-oriented “Admin Pros” group.


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