LinkedIn has been around for a loooong time 鈥 since 2002, that is. Facebook was still a mere fantasy of Harvard underclassman Mark Zuckerberg, and the first iPhone wouldn鈥檛 be released for another five years, indicating just how far off Instagram and Snapchat were. But in the years since the releases of the latter three social media sites, they have displaced LinkedIn in setting the precedent for how we act online, which is typically very casually, lightheartedly, and sometimes even intimately. But because LinkedIn serves such a different purpose than its more 鈥渟ocial鈥 social media counterparts, it comes with its own, potentially unfamiliar set of rules. Anna Wood, a career and lifestyle consultant and 鈥渇emale empoweress鈥 who founded Brains Over Blonde, gave us the lowdown on how to best present yourself on LinkedIn.

A woman uses a tablet in a sunny office

1. Don鈥檛 accept everyone who adds you. There鈥檚 a common notion that you must accept everyone who adds you on LinkedIn in order to expand your network. Wood, who doesn鈥檛 accept just anyone on her personal account, disagrees, maintaining the same mentality that most people have for Facebook friends. 鈥淚 like to keep my feed clean to the people I know and care about following,鈥 she tells us. 鈥淧lus, you don鈥檛 know what others鈥 reputations are, and your connections are visible to everyone.鈥

2. Respond to most recruiters. Recruiters and headhunters might reach out to you on the social media site occasionally, especially if you鈥檝e selected the 鈥淟et recruiters know you鈥檙e open鈥 option. But this doesn鈥檛 mean you need to extensively engage with everyone who slides into your DMs. 鈥淚f you鈥檙e not interested, say so,鈥 suggests Wood. 鈥淭hey鈥檒l appreciate the response.鈥 If you鈥檙e not particularly intrigued by the offer but you鈥檇 still like to respond, Wood says this is a prime opportunity to make your interests more explicitly known. 鈥淚t鈥檚 also a chance to let them know what you are interested in or to start a relationship for when you may be looking in the future.鈥

3. Post updates regularly. Similar to Facebook鈥檚 status updates, LinkedIn offers a less-used article option that allows users to post text, images, and videos. This isn鈥檛 necessarily the place to dish about the latest celeb gossip (leave that for your FB friends), but Woods is an advocate of the article feature, if used appropriately. 鈥淧ublishing articles on LinkedIn is a great way to gain credibility in your field as a thought leader and build your personal brand.鈥

4. Get a professional profile picture taken. A crop job simply won鈥檛 cut it on LinkedIn, Wood cautions, especially if said photo was taken in a social rather than a professional setting. Wood recommends the site Snappr for an affordable photoshoot 鈥 or even just asking a pal with a nice point-and-shoot to snap some pictures of you in front of a white wall or at your desk. It鈥檚 鈥渟o easy and makes a huge diff,鈥 she encourages.

5. Use searchable terms in your headline. A common mistake most LinkedIn rookies make, according to Wood, is listing your official job title and your job title alone in the headline section. 鈥淵our LinkedIn headline should include searchable terms you want to show up for,鈥 Wood explains. 鈥淭hink 鈥榚ntrepreneur,鈥 鈥榯hought leader,鈥 鈥榠nnovator,鈥 鈥榮ocial media expert.'鈥 Your company and position show up to the right of the headline, so including an innovative headline will set you apart and avoid redundancy.

How do you leverage LinkedIn? Let us know @BritandCo.

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