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8 Secrets to Building a Stunning LinkedIn Profile

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Sometimes, defeat turns into opportunity.

Years ago, I attended a writers' conference and pitched an article to a magazine editor. He didn't take it, but he was friendly, gracious and polite.

I saw him on LinkedIn a couple years later, and at first hesitated to reach out. After all, he probably didn't even remember me. But I still wanted to work with him, so I connected anyway.

Not only did this editor remember me, but he was looking for writers. He was impressed with my LinkedIn profile experience and hired me to blog for UrbanFaith.

My LinkedIn profile got me a job -- and that's just one of many stories from successful job seekers. Forbes reported that LinkedIn is the number one social tool for both job hunters and hiring managers.

Here's how to stand out from the competition:

1. Build a multimedia profile.

Most profiles on LinkedIn are just plain text -- how boring is that? Build a visual profile and you'll instantly stand out. This LinkedIn feature (called "Professional Portfolio") allows you to share presentations, photos, videos, links, PDFs and more. So use it to your advantage and show off your creative work!

Look what a big difference it makes. I added just a few visuals to my Faith Driven Business job on my LinkedIn profile -- a photo of one of our team meetings, a link to FaithDrivenBusiness.com, and links to three of our free reports. It already looks much better.

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Want to see how it's done? Check out this Professional Portfolio breakdown here at Social Media Examiner.

2. Go for detail.

Elaborate on the areas that simply wouldn't fit on a hard copy resume, like an odd job, volunteer position, or success story. I included my coursework when I was job searching just out of college. I never would have put that on a hard copy resume -- information overload! -- but it had its place on LinkedIn, where potential employers could see I'd taken classes to gain desired multimedia skills.

3. Write a killer summary.

Whatever you do, don't leave the summary blank or limit it to a few bland sentences. This is your chance to be creative and describe who you are and what you're passionate about. Make it personal, while also highlighting key accomplishments you don't want anyone to miss. LinkedInsights has some great summary examples here.

4. Don't be afraid to connect.

You could seriously get a job this way -- I would know! If you genuinely want to keep up with a contact, then connect on LinkedIn. Write a personal note saying "hello."

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5. Network in LinkedIn groups.

Groups show up in your profile and demonstrate your interests. But beyond that, LinkedIn groups are a great way to meet people in your industry and have a meaningful conversation -- which is why we have a Faith Driven Business LinkedIn group. These groups are a valuable resource, so use them! When you run into a challenge you don't know how to solve, find a group of similar professionals who've likely run into the same problem. Ask for help. And help others in return -- they'll remember the favor!

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6. Give recommendations and endorsements.

Give and people are likely to give back to you. It's a chance to help your fellow professionals, and it establishes you as an authority.

7. Ask for recommendations.

These make for a priceless first impression! You know people who would gladly recommend your work, so ask them to do so on LinkedIn. But don't rely on LinkedIn to do the asking for you with their recommendations request feature. The best approach is to ask in person or to write a personal email sincerely expressing what their recommendation would mean to you.

8. Keep it organized.

With all the options for LinkedIn fields to fill out (experience, education, coursework, volunteering), your profile can get really big, really fast! Take control by making your descriptions easily scannable. Bullet points can save your life. Look how Jeff Hodgkinson (recognized for having one of the best LinkedIn profiles) organized his summary with bullet points. Simple and straightforward!

Bonuses:

- Make a custom profile URL and use it -- on business cards, in your email signature, in blogging bios, on your website. It's an easy and memorable way for people to connect with you.

-- Follow relevant news and companies. Like groups, these demonstrate your interests and help you keep up with the latest news.

-- Post professional LinkedIn status updates and show that you know your stuff. Got a professional blog? Share your blog posts and interesting industry news.

Image credit from top: Created by Sheila Scarborough, found on Flickr. Used with permission under Creative Commons. No modifications made.

A version of this blog post originally appeared at Faith Driven Business.