Five Quick Ways to Spruce Up Your LinkedIn Profile

Have you let your LinkedIn profile grow stale? Or do you feel it'??s not yielding the connections you most want to make? Now is an ideal time to re-evaluate your presence on the site to ensure you're making a positive impression. Here are five things that you can do right now.

Change your LinkedIn profile photo. Admit it: When you get an email alert from LinkedIn announcing that a contact has changed his or her profile photo, you make a point to check out that person'??s page. Well, your contacts are likely to do the same if you update your photo. It's a great way to channel a little traffic to your LinkedIn profile and remind those contacts you may not interact with regularly that you'??re still out there.

Another reason to change your photo now: LinkedIn profiles now include larger profile photos, so make sure to use a high-resolution, professional-looking image.

De-clutter your data. Give a critical eye to what you'??ve posted on your profile. Is all the information relevant to the work you're doing now, and your professional goals? Remember, a LinkedIn profile is not a resume; you can list all of your previous jobs, but don'??t devote too much real estate to describing those that aren'??t relevant to your current career track. Your profile should offer a clear snapshot of what you have to offer and some insight into what you hope to achieve in the future.

Customize your professional headline. One of the most important steps to getting the most from your LinkedIn profile is something many people overlook: crafting a relevant professional headline. This is the line that appears directly below your name on your LinkedIn profile. Usually, people just feature their job title. That's fine. But if you want potential contacts to find you easily through their LinkedIn searches, you'??ll want the 120 characters you'??re allotted to be relevant keywords and phrases. As an example: Financial analyst open to new opportunities in Minneapolis area.??

Share your story. The summary section of your LinkedIn profile is where you have the most flexibility (and space) to offer details about who you are as a professional. Information you might include could be the specific value you'??ve created for the employers and clients you've worked for, awards you've earned, or the career goals you'??re working toward now — for instance, earning a new certification or deepening your specialization in a certain area. If there are things about you that don't relate directly to your field, but add even more dimension to who you are as an individual, such as "??I run in three major marathons annually,"?? feel free to add that, too.

Add relevant external links. Use a Twitter or Facebook account for business? Have a blog or a website? Is there a paper or article you've written or contributed to that'??s posted online? Don't fail to include these links in your profile. You can post up to three and change them as often as you'??d like. Including external links allows your contacts to learn even more about you and provides more ways for them to keep in touch with you.

So, before you leave the office, don'??t just tidy up your desk: Spruce up your "space" on LinkedIn, as well, so you'?ll be ready to take your professional networking to the next level.

Do you have other suggestions for improving LinkedIn profiles? Share them in the comments below!