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In the third installment we discuss building credibility.

LinkedIn is a great opportunity to present yourself. You can list a summary, details of past work history, your current employment, and other pieces of information. All of this can present a picture of you but by itself doesn’t convey credibility.

LinkedIn has built in features that help you establish credibility. All you need to do is a little extra work and credibility is yours to be gained. Let’s take a look at your credibility opportunities:

1. A complete profile: It sounds simple but many people miss the point. Your goal on LinkedIn is to be found and once found to be seen as relevant. The more information you present, the more likely you are to be found.

Every word you add is another opportunity to be found. Let’s take the often overlooked Hobbies and Interests section. Let’s say you like to outdoor activities such as camping or hiking. Someone searches on one of these keywords and includes your geographic location and suddenly they find your profile. You’ve just accomplished your first goal of being found.

What if someone is searching for a CPA and they have three in their network. Who’s more likely to catch the reviewer’s attention? The person with a “naked” profile or the person who has taken the time to completely fill out their profile?

2. Answers: With the Answers section you have the ability to both ask and answer questions. Both can have an impact on your credibility

The type of questions you ask will say something about who you are and the level of experience you possess. They show what you’re interested in. Don’t ask pointless questions. You want to focus on asking questions that generate thoughtful responses. Note: Questions that are meant to generate a sales response will reflect negatively about you.

Answers is your opportunity to share knowledge and display expertise. Answer only those questions that you can provide useful information in response. The top answerer on LinkedIn answered 286 questions this week. How many thoughtful answers do you think he provided. This person is trying to build credibility and is destroying his image in the process.

3. Recommendations: Another opportunity to give and receive. The key is to provide only recommendations that are truthful and sincere. This is not the place to give a recommendation in return just because you received one.

There are different types of recommendations, but the most relevant is one given by a client. These help you standing in the Service Providers section of the Companies category.

LinkedIn provides the ability to request a recommendation. There are differences of opinions about whether this is a positive or negative. My thoughts are that if you did a great job serving a client then you should feel comfortable requesting a recommendation. Just make sure that in your request you state that you are asking based on your work for the client and that the person should not feel obligated to provide one.

Focus on the three areas above and you will be well on your way to building credibility. A final benefit to participating in Answers and providing Recommendations is that each time you do, there is a link to your profile generated. People will visit your profile based on these links.

Until next time, you’ve got some work to do.

Sean Nelson is the author of the Linked Intuition blog and helps business professionals, the Self-Employed and small businesses understand how to effectively use LinkedIn to expand their networking and grow their business.

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