Hate to break it to you, but if you're treating LinkedIn like an old-fashioned/digital resume, you're doing it all wrong. Although it's tempting to create a profile by copying and pasting your resume quickly, you're missing opportunities to strengthen your personal brand -- which leads to better connections, job opportunities, business leads, and influence in your industry

After spending the past half-decade in recruiting, I've seen LinkedIn go from a novelty to one of the most extensive collections of business professionals in the world. What initially seemed like a Facebook knockoff, is now one of the best and most used social and professional networking sites. 

In addition to the overwhelming number of recruiters who are using the platform, here are a few noteworthy stats from LinkedIn:

  • LinkedIn has over 450 million members.

  • 61 million LinkedIn users are senior level influencers, and 40 million are in decision-making positions.

  • 46 percent of social media traffic coming to your company site comes from LinkedIn.

  • 80 percent of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.

Regardless of what your networking objectives are, it's smart to leverage the incredible platform that is LinkedIn.

Here are a few suggestions to help you update your profile and enhance your personal and professional presence. 

1. Create a compelling headline.  

Outside of your picture, your headline is one of the first things people see. Although space is limited, this is one of the most critical aspects of a LinkedIn profile. Use this space as an opportunity to draw people in with a compelling headline. Also, make sure to include keywords that connect you to your work, skills, and key differentiators. 

After five years of scanning profiles, I prefer to see headlines that also describe the problems the individual solves. For example, "HR Business Partner helping managers maximize their team's potential."

Then, tailor the rest of your profile to support your headline. This could include interesting projects, group involvement, committees, or specific work. 

Lastly, make sure it's catchy, shows personality, and is keyword rich.  

2. Tell your career story, not your career history. 

Rather than copying and pasting your resume content, use the "experience" section of your profile to tell your story. Add additional context that helps viewers understand your career progression and explain what you've worked on and learned along the way.

It's important to help others connect the dots and demonstrate how previous jobs and teams have helped shape you professionally. 

3. Spotlight your personal brand. 

Highlight what differentiates you. 

Make sure that your LinkedIn profile showcases your personality, your unique blend of skills, experiences, accomplishments, and education, as well as what inspires you to go above and beyond. 

The "summary" section of your profile is a great place to include this information. Help people connect who you are with what you do. People gravitate towards those who convey authenticity and trust. 

A great "non-traditional-resume" strategy is to write in first person -- you'll sound more relatable. 

4. Highlight projects that differentiate you.

Job titles and descriptions only go so far. Proven expertise and the wisdom that comes from overcoming adversity are much more compelling.

One of the most significant judgment calls an employer or a potential client has to make is believing that you can deliver what you say you can. Real life examples provide credibility that helps employers vouch for you and clients trust you.

Use the project section to highlight a few of your career-defining projects. These examples also give recruiters a glimpse into how you think and approach problems. 

5. Identify and communicate your convictions.

If you haven't already, check out Simon Sinek's Ted Talk on finding your "why." It had a profound impact on me and helped me pinpoint my cause -- why I do what I do. When you find your "why," you can align yourself with others on LinkedIn who share your passions.

Examples include LinkedIn groups, influencers, and companies. This is one of the best ways to find, secure, and maintain a career, network, or business lead doing work that inspires you. 

6. Share your wisdom. 

Everyone has insights to share.

Every day we manage challenges and decisions that others can learn from. Use the "write an article" section to share your knowledge and experience with your connections.

These posts are more informal in nature and provide an opportunity to share your perspective with a broader audience.

Those with the most influence no longer hoard information -- they share it. 

7. Demonstrate what you're like to work with through LinkedIn recommendations. 

Yes, recommendations, in their traditional form, are a nice way for others to validate your expertise and skills. For me, recommendations tell me something that is way more important than skills and knowledge. Recommendations demonstrate what kind of team member you are and what it's like to work with you on a daily basis. 

Potential employers or clients are not only evaluating your skills, but also what it would be like to work with you every single day.