A Primer for Getting Started on LinkedIn

If you’ve decided you need to be on LinkedIn to help manage your career and personal brand but are hesitant about what is required and what you need to do, you’re in the right place!

If you aren’t sure whether LinkedIn is something you need in the first place, read my article LinkedIn – Not Just a Place For a Resume first. I’ll be waiting right here.

LinkedIn, like many social media tools, can be intimidating to the uninitiated.  This is especially true for those of us who are NOT millennials and grew up with one foot in the technological world (maybe not even that for some) and one foot firmly entrenched in a world without technology – at least while we were young.  From digital cameras and robotic vacuums to cellphones the size of our hands and online booking, the world is a far different place today than the one we grew up in.

Most of these technological advancements made their advent when we were already young (or not) adults. Our brains weren’t wired by the type of stimuli millennials and children of today are exposed to daily.  So, for us, each new advent is something not only to grasp and explore but also to first question.  Why do I need that?  What does it do for me?  How will I learn it?  It isn’t as easy for us and quite frankly, many of us think if we didn’t need it before, why now?  I get it.  I still go through much of these same questions and I always will.  It’s just how it is but I’ve also learned to embrace these changes. My questioning phase is much shorter and my fear of learning or adapting is evaporating the more I use, learn and apply. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t there yet.  It will come.

If you’re still reading, you’ve decided LinkedIn is, at a minimum, something you would like to explore.  So, what do you do now?  LinkedIn has been undergoing many changes recently but here is the basic low-down on the steps to setting up a LinkedIn profile – much of which will still apply even if LinkedIn changes.

  1. Gather what you need. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. You won’t need much.
  • If you have one already, grab your resume. If you don’t, jot down some past jobs and the dates you worked.
  • Think of any volunteering or active groups you have been involved with and jot those down.
  • Think of your skills or your accomplishments. Jot those down.
  • Find a digital picture that shows you in a professional manner. If you don’t have one, no problem. It isn’t necessary.

 Remember, you are just creating your profile at this point.  You will fill it in and work on it over weeks and years. It will be a work in progress and you don’t have to feel you need it perfect the day you create it.  Not many will even see it until you are ready.  You will be able to customize your privacy settings right away if you want.

  • Create your login. Go to linkedIn.com.   First time users will be guided through creating a login and password.
  • Skip any Find People You Know screens and prompts at this point (if they come up). You just want to get a good grasp on LinkedIn, feel good about it, and have something you want people to see before you start inviting people to “link” with you.
  • Blank template for you to use. Take time to just explore what you see and the types of information you can fill in.  LinkedIn will bring topics up for you. Remember, you are not under any deadline and should feel no pressure.  LinkedIn is good about guiding you through categories.  You can skip any of them and come back later.
  • Go to Settings and establish your privacy threshold. At this point you want to keep everything private as you are just getting started. capture-2
  • Start filling in your template. The wonderful thing about LinkedIn is it guides you through setting up your online resume and accomplishments.  You don’t sign up, pick some interesting subjects and then are thrown to the wolves!  Follow the prompts and fill in as much as you can.  Remember to be HONEST and professional because at some point, people will be checking your information out and you may want or need a new job. Don’t pad the resume – so to speak.  You want to have things correct.  If you don’t remember dates etc., no problem. This is a work in progress. Leave these areas blank and go on. You can always add later.capture-1
  • Look at some of the options on the bar. You can find organizations to follow, do job searches, see messages, find topics and forums you would like to learn more about or join. Go ahead and explore. Some forums are private and you can ask to be included. An administrator of the group will need to approve you before you can see the forum discussions.  This is usually no problem if you have something that identifies you via resume or education as a serious member.  You probably will not want to join the locked groups until you have your online credentials ready.
  • When you are ready (it doesn’t have to be the day you first sign up) you can find former or current colleagues, friends and family and ask to be linked.
  • Once you have set up your profile, feel free to change your privacy settings again so people can see more about you.
  • Download the mobile app for your phone or tablet so you have LinkedIn on the go.

There you have it.  You’re all set to take advantage of all LinkedIn can offer you.  Remember, this post is about getting started.  For more advanced help, feel free to check out any further LinkedIn posts that I may publish.  Additionally, I offer LinkedIn optimization and personal branding consulting for those who need more guidance and help.


Kristine Pierce is an experienced attorney turned certified personal branding strategist and certified social branding analyst.  With a decade in government regulatory law, including as the Governor’s appointed State Extradition Coordinator and the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety’s Chief Legal Counsel, she has also been a speaker, author and instructor.  She’s passionate about sharing her vision that people should do what they love, never give up on their big dreams and never fear change.  Rebranding is possible if it’s done well.  As Founder of KHPierce Consulting, she focuses her expertise on helping professionals, solo business owners, and people in transition achieve their goals by finding methods and strategies to showcase their uniqueness.  You can find her on Twitter @kristine_pierce; Instagram @kristine.pierce; LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kristinepierce and at http://www.khpierce.com


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