You can do a lot on LinkedIn to tell the world -- of recruiters, would-be bosses, prospective clients -- who you are and what you do best. You can tell your story in the summary section. You can write articles that display your subject matter expertise. You can post links directing people to your company website, white papers, blog, podcasts and more.

But first things first. You have to have the very basics in place -- and if you do people will be look at your page. Here are three things that you have to do before you do anything else on LinkedIn.

1. Upload a profile photo.

What are you hoping to achieve on LinkedIn if you don't even have your photo on your profile so people can recognize you? What results do you expect to get from the LinkedIn's generic gray avatar? The profile photo is your first priority. 

Even if you can't afford or don't have time (yet) for a professional headshot, put on a professional outfit and have a friend take a photo, with a real camera if possible, but a cell phone camera will do. Just make sure you have good lighting and a neutral background and that your face and shoulders fill the frame.

"The key to a great LinkedIn photo is a natural, relaxed expression and great lighting," professional photographer Heather Liebler told me for a column back in February. "It's really that simple."

The payoff: Having a profile photo leads to nine times the connection requests, according to LinkedIn.

2. Tell your network where you are.

Have you moved to a different city, state, country? For goodness sake, tell folks where in the world you are. Your location is the third line of your profile -- after your name and title. It's prominent, and it take just seconds to update.

The payoff: Having an up to date location increases 23-fold the number of times your names comes up in searches by alumni, recruiters, former colleagues and others, says LinkedIn.

3. Add skills to your profile.

In the skills and endorsements section, check to see that your skills are represented and add in those that aren't. Type in keywords and you are bound to find any and all skills. Just a few clicks, and you are all set. 

Another good thing to do is endorse other people for their skills, essentially validating what those you know do well. And in turn others will no doubt endorse your skills, too.

The payoff: Having at least five skills on your profile gets you 17 times more profile views and 31 times more messages from recruiters and others who can help you succeed and get ahead, according to LinkedIn.

Bottom line: In less time than it took you to read this story, you can make sure your LinkedIn profile covers the basics and helps you get ahead.

Published on: Jun 5, 2018