LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies
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LinkedIn search is a little peculiar. When you search by a person’s name in the LinkedIn search bar, it doesn’t matter if the person is in your network or not; his or her profile (provided there is one) appears in search results.

But as you know, people don’t always search LinkedIn by name. When typical users search by keyword, the results that appear are from profiles that are in their LinkedIn networks — not the entire LinkedIn user database.

This means that the profiles that are returned are either first-, second-, or third-degree connections, or members of common LinkedIn Groups. It is true that occasionally you’ll see an Out of Network profile appear in your search results, but when that happens, the full name is not provided and the profile isn’t completely visible.

You just put a lot of work into optimizing your LinkedIn network. To make sure you get a lot of profile views, you must be able to be found, and to make that happen, you need to make sure you have a strong LinkedIn network.

This article does not advise aiming low and wide, spraying and praying and connecting with people for sheer quantity. Instead, the tips you find here help your online LinkedIn network reflect your offline network. The people you know, the people you knew, and the people you meet every day should be added to your profile.

When you have a strong network, your LinkedIn profile appears in search results more often, and you get more views to your profile. Here’s how to get started.

Import your address book to LinkedIn

It’s hard to connect one by one, remembering the people you met through your life. Rather than rack your brain, LinkedIn allows you to import your online address book. Scanning your email address book shows you who’s on LinkedIn already, and LinkedIn allows you to automatically connect with them.

It seems a little scary to give LinkedIn your email password, but not to worry, nothing bad will happen as long as you go slow and read through each screen!

Here are the steps for importing your address book to LinkedIn:

  1. On LinkedIn’s main toolbar, click My
  2. In the left navigation pane, add your email to the Add Personal Contacts section (some users might see Invite Contacts instead).

    The Add Contacts page with a list of email providers appears.

    import connections LInkedIn Import your address book to add additional LinkedIn contacts.
  3. Enter your email address and click Continue, or click the button for the email provider you use.

    An authentication window appears.

  4. Enter your email credentials and accept any permission requests.

    LinkedIn scans your email address book looking for profile matches and presents you with a list of people you know who are already on LinkedIn, but not connected to you.

    LinkedIn profile matches LinkedIn displays the profile matches based on email addresses in your email address book.

    LinkedIn automatically selects all contacts. Do not click Add Connections! It’s important to first go through this list one by one and select or deselect who you want to invite to connect with you on LinkedIn.

  5. Remove the check marks by clicking in the circle to deselect the individuals you do not want to send a connection request.
  6. Click the Add Connections button.

    An invitation request is sent, and then LinkedIn displays a list of people from your email address book who are not on LinkedIn that you can invite to join.

    invite people to join LinkedIn LinkedIn displays the people who are not on LinkedIn that you can invite.
  7. Deselect the people on the list you do not want to invite to join LinkedIn and click the Add to Network button, or click Skip to skip this step.

    Invites are sent to those people you selected and you are back at the People You May Know Screen.

It’s absolutely acceptable to skip sending invitations. LinkedIn has over 500 million users. Most times, those people who show up as not on LinkedIn, are on LinkedIn but with a different email address. Rather than bombard people with LinkedIn invitations, skip this step and concentrate on connecting with people who are definitely on LinkedIn already.

Import a contact list into LinkedIn

To make connecting as easy as possible, LinkedIn lets you upload a .csv, .txt, or .vcf file of email addresses. This is perfect if you have a spreadsheet of email addresses. Simply go to Add Connections under My Network and choose Import file. Select your file and go! If you want explicit directions, simply follow the directions under “Import Your Address Book” starting with Step 5.

Let LinkedIn help you connect

Under My Network on LinkedIn’s navigation bar is People You May Know. This is a great page that most people overlook.

LinkedIn shows you connection recommendations of people you may possibly know and may like to connect with on LinkedIn. These recommendations are based on similar profile information. You may have gone to school with the person LinkedIn is recommending, or maybe you worked at the same company, or maybe you have similar experiences or work in the same industry.

LinkedIn also extrapolates people you may know from your email and mobile address books. Don’t worry: LinkedIn never reads your messages; it just looks for email address matches.

To use People You May Know to make more connections, follow these steps:

  1. Click my Network on LinkedIn’s main toolbar.

    A list of People You May Know appears.

  2. Scan through the list of profiles that appear, and click the Connect button when you see a person you want to invite into your first-degree network.

    By clicking Connect, you are sending a non-personalized invitation. If you want to personalize your invitation, go to Step 3.

  3. Click the profile picture of the suggested person.

    His or her LinkedIn profile opens.

  4. Click the Connect button that appears next to that person’s profile picture.

    LinkedIn connection Click Connect to send a personalized LinkedIn connection request.

    LinkedIn prompts you to add a personalized note.

  5. Click Add a note.
  6. Add a personalized note in the text field.
  7. Click the Send Invitation button.

    A personalized invitation is sent.

Join 100 LinkedIn Groups

Group members are part of your LinkedIn network. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 100 LinkedIn Groups. If you want to get found and find more people via LinkedIn search, join the maximum 100 LinkedIn Groups.

By joining groups, those members are added to your LinkedIn network. This means that when they search for someone like you, the odds of you appearing in their search results are much greater because you are “connected” through the group.

Start a LinkedIn Group

Depending upon your need to grow your network, starting a LinkedIn Group to grow your network might be akin to killing a fly with an anvil. Starting a LinkedIn Group is a huge undertaking, but it can be a worthwhile investment depending on your goals. As the LinkedIn Group administrator, you sit in a unique leadership position, and people within the group get to know you. Who would reject a connection request from the Group administrator?

My only caveat here is there is a lot of work required to create and build a LinkedIn Group. If you are absolutely not interested in creating a group, become very active in an already established group. As you interact with people via group discussions, send them a connection request. It’s on a slightly smaller scale than being a LinkedIn Group administrator, but it does allow you to meet people and connect.

Make connecting on LinkedIn a process

To grow your network, you must make it a systematic process. Don’t just focus on connecting with people from your past. Each time you schedule a meeting, make sure the invitees are in your LinkedIn network. Don’t just collect business cards at industry events, enter the names into LinkedIn and connect with them. The idea is that you connect with the people you meet along the way.

Connecting must be part of your professional process, and it’s something that you should never stop doing.

Link to your LinkedIn profile

Expanding your network is not just about sending connection requests to other people. It’s equally important that you make it easy for other people to connect to you. The best way to do that is to provide a link to your LinkedIn profile wherever you are … online or off.

Here are a few places you can add a link to your profile:

  • Business card
  • Email signature
  • Letterhead
  • Marketing literature
  • Spray paint it across the local bridge (just teasing)
  • Resume
  • Social media networks
  • Website bio
  • Website social media section

Brand yourself a LinkedIn LION or just connect to them

Surely you’ve noticed people on LinkedIn with the moniker “LION” next to their names or have it listed in their summaries. No, these people are not actual cat lovers. LION is short for LinkedIn Open Networker. A LION is a person who is willing to connect with anyone on LinkedIn, regardless of whether they know you or trust you.

Back in the wild heyday of early LinkedIn, being a LION was a renegade thing to do. This was back in the day before LinkedIn had a Follow button. Heck, this was back in the day when most people had networks with far fewer than 500 connections.

Yes, this was back in the day before smartphones and the LinkedIn app made connecting in person possible. Back then you had to walk up a hill barefoot to connect with a person (not true). Being a LION isn’t quite what it was, but there is still value in the mindset of openness, and inclusion.

The one rule LIONs follow is never mark any incoming invitation as SPAM or I Don’t Know. When a person marks an invite as SPAM or I Don’t Know, that’s a black mark against the user. If too many people mark you as SPAM or I Don’t Know, LinkedIn restricts your account and you will only be able to add people if you enter in their email addresses.

It’s easy to become a LION. All you need to do is add LION or LinkedIn Open Networker to your profile and never choose SPAM or I Don’t Know on an incoming invitation to connect.

However, there are pros and cons to becoming a LION. It’s something that you need to consider long and hard. If you are only looking to grow a strong network, not a ginormous one, becoming a LION may not be the best option for you.

Instead of labeling yourself a LION, you can choose to just connect to LIONs. By searching out LIONs and adding them to your network, you are expanding your second-degree network and growing your total LinkedIn network in the process.

Because it’s easy to spot a LION, it’s easy to find them on LinkedIn. By doing a simple keyword search for “LinkedIn Open Networker,” you’ll find a slew. Send them a connection request and a short, personalized note and they’ll be happy to add you to their enormous network.

Don’t join open networking lists and groups

A number of websites allow you to download a list of email addresses of LinkedIn members who want to expand their network. By uploading that list of email addresses to LinkedIn, you can expand your own network very quickly.

These websites all work in a similar manner. It’s free to download the list, but it costs money to get your name on the list. The idea is that you want people adding you as a connection rather than having to download the list yourself. By having other people add you, you are able to determine who you want to add, but also, you aren’t using up your 5,000-invitation limit.

The problem is, most of the people on these lists are either inactive accounts, spammers, nefarious MLMers (multi-level marketers), or Nigerian princes with large sums of money they want you to help them deposit. Just stay away from these lists. No good can come from them. You want to connect with real people who are using LinkedIn in an authentic and genuine manner. LinkedIn isn’t about spraying and praying.

Use the LinkedIn app

What makes connecting so gosh darn hard is that it’s outside your everyday process. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of having to visit, you could connect directly with people within your email application?

As you receive and read email, you get to see a link to the person’s profile and a Connect button? Guess what, there is! It’s called Sales Navigator for Gmail, and it’s a browser extension that comes in two flavors: Lite for “freemium” users and Premium for LinkedIn Sales Navigator users.

This extension displays profile information on the right side of opened email messages. Not only do you see the sender’s headline, location, and current position, but also it displays links to the sender’s LinkedIn profile. If you are not currently connected to the sender, this extension shows you a Connect button that you can click to send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

Or go the Chrome store and search for Sales Navigator.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Donna Serdula is the leading authority on LinkedIn profile optimization. Her company, Vision Board Media, provides branding services to individual and corporate clients. She is also an in-demand speaker. She can be found online at and on LinkedIn at

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