Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that LinkedIn is a social networking site where professionals connect. Whether you are on a solid career path, looking for a job, or are just interested in building a virtual community for sharing ideas and opinions about your professional field of interest, LinkedIn is the place for you. Face-to-face connections can be the most powerful kind of interaction; however, there is no denying that online social networking is here to stay, and we all need to learn how to use it to build relationships.

Here are five tips for growing your social network on LinkedIn:

  1. Make your profile an extension of your personal brand. What are your three top attributes? For example, “determined, hard working, and professional.” Are your attributes reflected in your profile picture, the language you use in describing your current and former jobs, and your connections?
  2. Customize your personal URL. A tailored web address always looks more professional.
  3. Use a professional—or at least good looking—head shot. Cartoon characters, tropical vacation shots, and selfies are for Facebook. If you want to be seen as an expert in your field, you have to look like an expert on your profile page.
  4. The more information, the better. Don’t be stingy with your resume information—you want people to be able to see how qualified you are. Corporate recruiters and other HR-type professionals frequently search LinkedIn to find the “right” people. Make sure your skills and experience are represented on your profile.
  5. Join or create “Groups.” Relationships don’t just happen—they take effort and nurturing, and groups are a way to interact with other LinkedIn users with similar interests. You don’t have to respond to every topic—pick and choose and then answer thoughtful. Creating conversations to engage members is a great way to become identified as valuable and reliable.