There are more qualified candidates than ever for your dream role. So, how do you ensure you stand out and effectively communicate your personal brand to potential employers? That’s right: LinkedIn. In the current era of social media and with the increased importance of an online presence, you’d be surprised how many people still underestimate the value of a well-designed, updated profile. Having utilized both sides of the platform, both as a college student searching for roles and currently as a full-time talent recruiter for Cheer Partners, I have seen firsthand the impact of a well-thought-out page. Take note of these four tips to put your best (digital) foot forward.

1. Remember the Details
Although it may seem obvious, taking the time to provide thoughtful details on past and present positions on your profile is invaluable. The small specialties you include, former clients or achievements can truly get you noticed! Even if you are not looking to change jobs, allowing others to gain a deeper understanding of your past and present experience is a fantastic tool to brand yourself. There is never any harm in allowing someone to inform you of what other opportunities may be out there. And who knows, perhaps an ideal opportunity falls into your lap when you’re least expecting it! Alternatively, what if a friend or coworker is actively looking for a new position? Now you will have the connections to pass along or build new relationships—as well as your own network.

2. Proofread, Porfread, Proofreed.
You may speed through your text message responses on your phone or tweet without taking a second look, but absolutely never publish a word to your LinkedIn profile before you have read through it carefully. Once you have proofread it once or twice, read it one more time out loud, and have a friend take a look. Allowing your profile to have even the smallest of errors in spelling, syntax or dates of employment or schooling may imply to potential recruiters and employers that you are not detail-oriented. Spending an extra five minutes to review your content will save you immeasurable time in the future.

3. Adhere to Proper Message Etiquette
LinkedIn has a variety of options to connect and speak with candidates, employers, clients and more. Not only can you include a message when inviting someone to connect, but you can also reach out via InMail. InMail is one of LinkedIn’s premium features that acts as an out-of-network email system for longer messages. Once connected, you can message people freely or perhaps even find email addresses, phone numbers or social media accounts within their contact information. This may seem overwhelming, but different methods can serve different purposes.
The fundamental rule for messaging should be similar to emails: Always. Respond. If you are approached with new job opportunities or other forms of partnerships, it is not mandatory to pursue any further correspondence. But, you should still acknowledge the communication with a friendly response. Any message along the lines of, “I appreciate your outreach, but I don’t believe this is best opportunity for me right now. Please keep me in mind for future inquiries!” is both courteous and appreciated. Down the road, that same recruiter or contact may reach out again with a position that is PERFECT for you! Remember, it is always worthwhile to connect with others, because someday you may want to see what opportunities are out there.

4. LinkedIn Isn’t the New Facebook: Don’t Treat it as Such!
Those that are new to the workforce often mistake LinkedIn for simply being a different sort of Facebook but focused on the business world. Although the two share some great similarities, do not let the desire to “raise your friend count” take over. Adding a new connection to your network because you know the person, or they are related to your current or future occupation is expected. Adding the friend of your friend’s cousin you ran into at the Starbucks probably doesn’t add up. Like all rules, though, there are exceptions, like recruiters who grow their networks with potential candidates like you! They absolutely utilize their existing connections’ networks as well, but LinkedIn should not become a popularity contest.

LinkedIn can seem like a great sea of employers, posts and competitors, but it is indeed a key tool to presenting yourself professionally. Sparing a few extra minutes when updating your profile or checking in on the site once a week can lead to real, positive attention. There is never a bad time to see who or what is out there. Utilize our tips and get ready to check your messages!