Last Updated on July 17, 2023

If you are looking to develop your career or business, then LinkedIn is a must-use platform that is both free and excellent for networking with others in the business world.

To maximize your reach and what you achieve from using LinkedIn, here are 10 key tips on things that you can do for free and that are easy to implement.

How to use LinkedIn for free for your career development

Why Is LinkedIn So Useful for Your Career Development?

With over 800 million users worldwide and with the majority of these users using LinkedIn for career and business purposes, you will quickly appreciate how useful to you Linkedin can be.

Whereas many social networks are aimed at chat, news, and social discussions, LinkedIn is very much aimed at businesses and career individuals.

Furthermore, the great news is that everything you need to do can be done for free!

1. Take Care of Your Profile Information

LinkedIn profile optimization example
LinkedIn profile optimization example

There are certain things you can do also to maximize your profile on LinkedIn including the following:

  • Ensure that you use a professional-looking photo of your face and that looks positive, i.e. are smiling
  • Include your job title and strapline (i.e., your key message)
  • Give readers a clear idea of exactly what skills you have
  • Include hashtags to signify the main topics you write and post about on LinkedIn. To add your ‘Talks about’ hashtag topics to your profile information you need to turn on Creator Mode (and then you can choose up to 5 topics)
  • List the services you provide
  • Include your key services in your banner graphic if you wish to

Another interesting example is from the renowned business trainer Jon Britain who also uses his linked banner to push his skills and important keywords related to the services he offers, as you can see in the image directly below:

Jon Britian's LinkedIn profile
A great example of creating a Linkedin banner to push your business profile

In addition to a great banner, Jon also uses a great headshot where he is smiling and looks like the approachable person that he indeed is.

2. Tag People into Updates You Post

By tagging other people in updates you post on Linkedin, you can achieve two key things:

  • You make others aware that you have written about them and, as a result, they are more likely to share, like, or comment on the post.
  • You increase the chance that the person will connect with you (if they are not already one of your connections) and this means you build your followers list.

By tagging people, by the way, it means mentioning them and then for their name to be linked directly to their profile if someone clicks on their name.

Let me show you quickly what I mean by tagging people in.

You can see the name ‘Natalie’ highlighted in blue (see where the arrow points to on the image above) and her name links to her profile here.

Tagging someone is very easy! Just type an @ symbol as you are writing a message to post and Linkedin will give you a list of people to choose from.

Then just click the name and click enter.

3. Create a LinkedIn Business Page if You Have Your Own Website/Blog

If, in addition to using LinkedIn as yourself, you have a website or blog that represents your business or that you use as a freelancer to further yourself, make sure to create a business page on LinkedIn.

Anytime you want to post on LinkedIn a link to the latest blog or news page you have created on your own site, post it to your LinkedIn business page AND THEN and only then, post the link from the business page post to your own profile.

This way you can also have people also begin to follow your business page directly on LinkedIn, in addition to having people follow your personal profile. You will gain more traction more quickly.

Using a LinkedIn business page
Using the ‘Copy link to post’ and then post that URL on your personal LinkedIn page

>> Follow this link to create a LinkedIn Business Page.

4. Join the Appropriate LinkedIn Groups

Groups are a great way to connect with the right people on LinkedIn and you can easily find and join them.

If you are interested, for example, in ‘remote working’ then type that term into the Linkedin search bar and you will see a list of ‘remote working groups‘ that you can join.

Make sure to click ‘See all group results’ as shown in the graphic below.

I would suggest joining between 5 and 10 groups and being active in these groups, including sharing each new blog post and any related news you have.

Make sure that the groups are active, i.e., have not been dead for a week with no posts or contributions.

Also, consider a couple of small and a few large groups to mix your exposure.

I would suggest joining between 5 and 10 groups and being active in these groups, including sharing each new blog post and any related news you have.

Make sure that the groups are active, i.e., have not been dead for a week with no posts or contributions.

Also, consider a couple of small and a few large groups to mix your exposure.

LinkedIn warning
You want to avoid posting something and having someone choose one of these three actions

No matter what you are posting, be it an image, a news story, sharing someone else’s post, be mindful of if it is something that your followers are likely to be interested in.

This is where point six below is also very important regards the people you choose to be connected to.

6. If You Are Open to Job Offers Then Also Do This

There are several things you can do to greatly enhance your experience on LinkedIn if you are using this site for finding a new job.

a) Set your Profile Status to Show that You are Open to New Roles

If you are actively open to new job offers and a career change, make sure to show this on your LinkedIn profile.

When logged into LinkedIn on your account, go to your own personal homepage and then click ‘Open to’.

From here, you can set what types of jobs you are willing to consider and are interested in.

Likewise, if you offer a service or are hiring someone, you can also use the ‘Open to’ section.

b) Add Job Alerts and Upload Your Resume

Then head to the top menu and click the ‘Jobs’ tab as you will see in the image below

Jobs network

On clicking ‘Jobs’ you will see a left-side menu pop up, on which you can set up job alerts and where you will find the ‘Resume Builder’.

Also, fill in the resume builder and it will better help match the keywords in your resume with job opportunities through LinkedIn.

7. Choose Hashtag Topics to Follow

To most easily see the best posts on LinkedIn, in addition to following the right groups and people, make sure to refine what hashtags you follow.

By following hashtags, you will be in essence following topics you are interested in.

So, if you click to follow #remoteworking, it will mean that posts related to ‘remote working’ will start showing up on your LinkedIn feed.

How to follow hashtags in LinkedIn

By following between let’s say 8 to 12 hashtags that really match your business, job, and career interests, your feed will begin to really have value and interest to you.

8. Write Meaningful Comments

Replying to a post with a smiley face or thumbs up or just one word does not help you maximize your potential on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is about ‘engagement‘ and writing useful and interesting replies helps to achieve this. Keep these points in mind also though:

  • Always be professional – remember that LinkedIn is a business networking platform for the most part.
  • Tag in people you are replying to but do not tag in people just for the sake of it
  • Add genuine value with your response i.e., write a sentence or two rather than providing an emoji only.

9. Get Recommendations

LinkedIn recommendations

Getting recommendations from your peers, customers, business associates, and anyone you have worked with can really add to your credibility on LinkedIn.

You might also want to provide recommendations for others too, given LinkedIn essentially is about community engagement.

A few tips though for providing and seeking out recommendations:

  • Seek out 6 to 12 genuine people who will give you honest and positive recommendations. Focus on getting quality recommendations from people who themselves have a good profile on LinkedIn
  • Start by recommending others, by providing good feedback on people you have worked with, and with whom you can genuinely attest to being great at what they do.

10. Be Proactive in Building Your Connections but Be Selective

A lot of people you provide services for, colleagues you work with, clients you deal with, will be on LinkedIn if you take a look.

Do not be shy about asking them to connect with you.

Equally so, do not feel that you have to accept all invitations to connect.

You can in fact set your profile to show a ‘Follow’ button as opposed to a ‘Connect’ button to deter too many people from thinking about connecting with you (if you get too many spammy requests).

There is a difference though between ‘Following’ and ‘Connecting’.

Those connected to you will also be able to direct message you whereas followers cannot. This is the key difference.

You want to build your network with good quality connections and avoid serial spammers such as those who often message offering web design services.

Dr Valeria Lo Iacono