How to Get Started with LinkedIn to Promote Yourself

January 10, 2009

in social networking

by David Strom

LinkedIn is one of the more popular Web sites that is part of what’s called “social networking.” You use LinkedIn to keep track of where your contacts are working and when they and you are looking to change jobs or look for potential partners or consultants to help with new projects. There are both free and paid versions, but in my opinion the free one is suitable for most individuals’ purposes.

You start by clicking on the Join Now button and entering in some basic information. While listing your educational background is optional, I would go ahead and enter it. The site will send you a confirmation message to your email address. If you are thinking about leaving your current employer, you might want to use a personal email address. Once you sign in to the service, you will see your home page which has lots of things on it. But first, let’s show you how to add people to your network. Click on the Expand Your Network button on the top of the page. There are several ways to add addresses – if you are running Microsoft Outlook, you can copy them directly there. Or if you use Gmail or Yahoo or one of the other free email services, then you can import them from these services. You can also type them in one at a time.

LinkedIn wants you to be careful here. Only invite people that you actually know. As you’ll see, sometimes people can say “they don’t know you” and refuse an invitation. If you get too many of these, the LinkedIn Police will suspend your account.

You should also fill out your profile, which is like an online version of your resume. Click on the My Profile button and you can make changes to the various fields. For example, I chose to put my email address in my summary because LinkedIn tries to keep it private with people who don’t know you. I want people to get in touch with me, so that’s why it is there.

You can also upload a photo, and add links to your blog and other Web sites. There are tons of other settings that determine how much your want available to the general public who is not on your network.

There is also a tab here for recommendations. This is very important; think of these as short electronic letters of reference from your customers, partners, or colleagues. You ask people to write them for you, and you should return the favor and write one for them as well. It is a good way to keep a record of what jobs you have done, and is also a good way for someone who doesn’t know you to read about your accomplishments.

David Strom is an expert on Internet and networking technologies who was the former editor-in-chief at Network Computing, Tom’s, and He currently writes regularly for PC World, Baseline Magazine, and the New York Times and is also a professional speaker, podcaster and blogs at and He’s on LinkedIn at