LinkedIn is a Godsend. Here you can post a flattering photo of yourself and verbally put your best foot forward.
Honestly, if you don’t include a photo, some people will simply not look at your profile, so make your “head shot” speak volumes. Every aspect sends a message. Study corporate head shots on various websites. If you can afford a photographer, pay to have your portrait done. This shot will be used in multiple places, especially on business cards. Lighting, dress, background, pose, smile or lack thereof, and retouching, are all elements of a good head shot, and it’s vital that they are considered.
Being an amateur photographer with professional equipment, I took my own photo with a tripod and a timer and did some post-production. I tried looking outdoorsy at first, but decided to go with the buttoned-down at-the-desk look. Most in my profession (environmental consulting) go both ways, likely sticking with khakis or jeans most of the time. I thought the button-down shirt lends a little more maturity and professionalism to someone trying to win the trust of a potential client!
If I was looking for employment I’d spend most of my waking hours perfecting my LinkedIn presentation and learning how to exploit it. Being gainfully employed for now, I’m still trying to perfect my page. What I normally do with a new client to which I am sending a proposal is include a link to my profile. This provides instant credibility presented in a classy way. It’s all there, and to my mind, much better than a resume given the endorsements and recommendations
Come to think of it, one facet of your LinkedIn page that’s essential is the recommendations section. Beg, borrow or…well…respectfully request recommendations from key people in your work life. Where else can you get a virtual tailor-made endorsement?
As for groups, join those which are strategic. Also use your memberships to communicate more about yourself. This is where you round out your character. I’m a member of a photography group of a particular brand of cameras. This could say that I spend time outdoors or that an otherwise left-brainer has a creative side.
I’d steer clear of turning my LinkedIn page into Facebook, constantly sharing clips and commentary. Be very careful of what you post. Keep it absolutely professional and apolitical. Share what’s in line with your profession. If you’re a writer and seasoned, share thoughts that can enhance your credibility or help your peers.