LinkedIn is a business-focused social network based on the premise that personal recommendations are more useful than well-composed CVs. You create a circle of colleagues and business associates with whom you are connected.

You can view their connections – and anyone they single out for particular praise and endorsement – add them to your network and view their profile and contact details. Better yet, anyone to whom you are connected can view your profile and read about your skills and experience. If you’re looking for a new job or the next step in your career, this form of networking can pay dividends. See also: How to use the new Myspace social network.

Although only people to whom you’re connected can view your full details, any LinkedIn member can see your name, job description, current employer and profile photo, plus how many connections you have. Unlike the false friends of Facebook, having many connections is definitely a plus point on LinkedIn. See also: smartphone reviews.

LinkedIn is favoured by employers as it enables them to see what a person has done, rather than simply reading the sanitised version provided on a CV. You may have held several key posts, but it’s the projects and successes you chalked up while there that will mark you out. For this reason, LinkedIn is often the first port of call for a potential employer. You may also be interested in: LinkedIn for Android review

Via your LinkedIn associates, they can also get a better idea of what you’re like to work with. This is where endorsements and personal recommendations can come in.

LinkedIn also offers a number of options for extending your profile. These include groups and organisations you join and posts to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Participation and engagement are just the sort of areas that can give you the edge over rival candidates for a job.

Here we’ll look at the most important element: creating a profile and establishing a LinkedIn network.

Once your profile is complete you can start building your LinkedIn network. Don’t be afraid to invite everyone you’ve ever worked with or met professionally. You can also add your profile to your Twitter profile or CV and use Twitter to tell people about it. Use in #in hashtag to have your Twitter updates appear in your LinkedIn feed. However, we strongly recommend you use LinkedIn's options to ensure you don’t spam associates with endless profile updates and endorsement requests.

Get to grips with LinkedIn

Step 1: Browse to and enter your name, email address and a password in the boxes. If you’re looking for a new job, you may prefer to use a personal email address rather than your company’s one so your contact email remains current (though you can assign a secondary email address too). You’ll need to confirm your email address using the link emailed to you.

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Step 2: Sign in to your LinkedIn account. Fill in the basic profile details requested, including whether you are currently employed or a job-seeker. Add details including your job title and company. If the company has a profile on LinkedIn, its logo will show up alongside your job description when you add it.

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Step 3: If you’re signed in to the same email account you used to create your account, LinkedIn will now request access to it so it can suggest connections. You can click Deny but if you accept, it will retrieve contacts who also use LinkedIn . Click Add Connections under their details to send an invitation to them to connect with you.  

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Step 4: In the Dashboard view you’ll see suggestions of people you might know, relevant job openings and other stories. The notifications and messages at the top indicate pending connection requests and LinkedIn emails. First, though you need to complete your profile so people can find you. Click the Profile option in the menu at the top, then choose Edit Profile.

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Step 5: Enter details of how long you’ve worked at your current position and click Save. Select when you started this job and enter a succinct description of what it entails. Repeat the process for other jobs you’ve had. Click Save or skip then add your school or university and qualifications. LinkedIn will try and match what you type to items already in its database.

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Here we continue our guide to getting started with LinkedIn

Step 6: Next you should add a photo. Try to choose a face-on shot so people can see it’s you. Save the party and holiday photos for Facebook and use a serious-looking, professional photo. Photos up to 4MB can be added. You can crop in before uploading the image, or do so once it’s in the system.

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Step 7: Keywords describing your skills and experience are very important. These tags will help people find you and are used for instant endorsements by your LinkedIn connections. Enter as many keywords as you wish, but bear in mind that lots of endorsements for five key skills may look more impressive than one each for 25 areas of stated expertise.

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Step 8: Your basic profile is now complete. Now you need to get networking. LinkedIn suggests people you may know. You can also find colleagues by name. To connect with someone, click the person’s name. A preview of the request page will appear. Select how you know the person. If you haven’t already added the company at which you worked, you will need to do so. This is to help prevent LinkedIn being used for spam.

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Step 9: To complete your profile, add projects and flesh out details of achievements in your jobs list. Links to anything you’ve published or details of projects you’ve worked on are useful inclusions. You can also join professional groups. You’ll probably want to manage messages from vocal groups in the Groups, your Groups, More, Your Settings.

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