September isn't just back-to-school season; it's back to work, too. Farewell, summer, with your vacations and leave-the-office early Fridays. As we snap back to reality, I thought I'd ease us in with five tips for LinkedIn. These tips will take five minutes tops and will instantly elevate your professional profile. You can spare five minutes from Facebook, right?

1. Customize your URL

Having just your name and not a bunch of random characters at the end of your LinkedIn URL shows that you have an attention for details. It looks cleaner when posted atop your resume, too. Click on the "Me" icon at tool bar at the top of your screen and then click "View profile." Next, click on "Edit public profile & URL" at the very top right of your page and edit away.

2. Upload a cover photo

Again, it's all paying attention to details and not wasting an opportunity to stand out among the half billion users on LinkedIn -- unless you like the generic, standard issue blue background. Just go to unsplash.com or pixabay.com to peruse and choose a royalty-free image. Think of your company colors or an image that speaks to what you do -- a chalkboard for an educator, colorful produce for a dietitian, keyboard for a writer and so forth. Or perhaps your company has branded images you can plug into your cover image space. 

3. Make sure your contact information is up to date

When I do LinkedIn makeovers, I often find that my clients' contact information is out of date -- old work phone numbers and email addresses, for example. You want to make sure that recruiters, prospective clients and others who can help you land a great gig know how to reach you. Just click on "See contact info" at the top right of your profile, under your company and university.

4. Turn on notifications to recruiters

Not only do you want recruiters to know how to find you, you want them to know that you are open to entertaining new job offers. Scroll down your profile until you get to your dashboard, which is visible only to you. Click on "Career interests," and there you will see that you can let recruiters know things like if you are open to new opportunities (full-time, part-time, contract), whether you are actively or casually looking, locations you would like to work and more.

5. Respond to invitations and messages

Another thing I often notice when working on clients' profiles: lots of unopened notifications. Often people have sent messages, invitations to connect and even recommendations they've written, and they've been ignored. It all adds up to missed opportunities to meet and make new connections, say thanks and post recommendations of you and your work to your page. Spend a few minutes getting up to date on your LinkedIn mail and notifications and then never let yourself get behind again.

Bonus tip: Put LinkedIn on your calendar. I was meeting with a prospective client the other day, and he said something I never ever hear. He has regularly recurring calendar entries reminding him to log into LinkedIn and engage. I was impressed. Not because it's a hard thing to do, but because I hear people say all the time things like, "I just don't know how to use LinkedIn," and this is what I tell them to do. Everybody knows how Facebook works. Well, LinkedIn is your professional Facebook, and you need to get in the habit of using it.

Published on: Sep 17, 2018