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How to Use LinkedIn As An Effective Career Tool
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Social media and online profiles have become an extension of most people's identities. While it was once something that people were still catching on to, today it's hardly considered optional.

An online presence is especially important for making a professional impression on others within an industry. Showcasing your skills and experience to the world opens up the lines of communication.

Being active on LinkedIn is one of the best ways you can help you career. Most importantly, it creates an all-inclusive environment for people to connect with others they share common career interests with. There are, however, major differences in how others see you if you aren't using the site like the pros. The following tips will help you polish up your profile and stay current with the changing job market:

Got questions, find answers.
LinkedIn houses all kinds of groups across nearly every industry which serve as platforms to open discussions for anyone within it to chime in on. Whether you want to look for answers to questions others have already asked or ask one of your own, the Answers section is a perfect way to gain some clarity and insight.

Get acquainted with a new field.
When you enter your skills and expertise in the search box, LinkedIn provides a list of others that are closely related. Are there some that you don't have yet? Having as many skills that relate to one another works greatly in your advantage. It's taking that step toward becoming an expert in the subject. Depending on your personal goals, you may only want to go after learning a select few of these skills. Think about who you should reach out to who can help you in that area.

Stay in the loop.
It can be hard to keep up with the different publications you read in order to find out the lastest in your industry. LinkedIn does the hard work for you, delivering all the top stories and headlines to you right on their homepage. You can see who's posting what and other topics that people are discussing. This way, you can log in, catch up, and search on.

Endorse and recommend.
Part of solidifying the relationships you build within your network is supporting your connections. It's a system of scratching each other's backs. LinkedIn has a recently added feature that allows you to endorse the skills your connections list on their profiles. Recommendations take it a step further by letting you write recommondations for your them based on their performance whether they request it from your or not. It shows that you aren't afraid to voice your genuine interest for their professional success. It's more than likely that they will return the favor.

Follow the leaders.
Just like you might follow your favorite celebrities on Twitter, you can do the same with industry and thought leaders on LinkedIn. LinkedIn's Today's News section lets you keep up with what's going on in the industry and what the people at the forefront are saying about it. You don't have to connect with them, but you can comment on their updates to demonstrate your own thoughts and leadership abilities.