When 80 percent of people reportedly don't know how to use LinkedIn properly, a New Year's resolution is born.
The professional social network, which has more than 100 million users worldwide, added a number of new features to its portfolio in 2011. Your challenge: keeping up with LinkedIn to best position yourself professionally this year.
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"LinkedIn is not just a place to find a job. It is a tool to help build your professional network, as well as a way to find business opportunities for whatever job you are currently doing," says Eve Mayer Orsburn, author of The Social Media Business Equation and CEO of Social Media Delivered."[It] provides a way to find the people you want to do business with and connect to them virtually when you may not have had the chance to meet them in person."
Here are five tips from two LinkedIn experts to set you on the path to success in 2012.
1. Focus on your profile
One common mistake LinkedIn users make is not having a clear focus in their profile, says Lewis Howes, author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on Linkedin. To ensure your profile has the maximum impact on others, you need to explicitly detail who you are as a professional within the Summary section.
To do this, Howes recommends reviewing your profile and making sure the following items are included in your summary: who you are as a professional, who you can help and how you can help them.
Another common profile mistake: not fully completing it.
"This sends a bad message to anyone investigating you for a potential partnership or job," Orsburn says. "If you don't follow through on completing your own profile, what other things will you fail to finish? Take the time to fill in as many of the fields as you can, and always include a picture.
[Want more LinkedIn tips, tricks and analysis? Check out CIO.com's LinkedIn Bible.]
2. Make "LinkedIn Today" part of your routine
Last year, LinkedIn launched a new product called "LinkedIn Today" -- a social news service that aggregates the top headlines and stories related to your industry and based on what your connections share. LinkedIn Today, Howes says, is a feature you should pay more attention to in 2012.
You can find LinkedIn Today under the News tab at the top of your LinkedIn homepage or by visiting www.linkedin.com/today. The industries you see listed are what LinkedIn guesses you're interested in based on information in your profile, but they can be easily customized.
Howes notes, too, that while LinkedIn Today a good resource for keeping up on news—especially news that your contacts deem important -- it can be a valuable tool for promoting your content if you have a blog. Howes recommends adding LinkedIn's "Share" button to your blog posts to increase the chances of being featured on LinkedIn Today.
3. Brand yourself an expert with Answers
One of the most valuable and underused features on LinkedIn is Answers, Howes says. This part of the site is a forum where users can propose questions, seek advice, and ask for opinions.