LinkedIn can be an amazing tool for professional growth and networking.  To get the most out of it, you need to make sure that you are using it correctly.

The first aspect to address is the way you present yourself to others on this platform.  That means optimizing your photo, name, and title.

Remember, LinkedIn is different from other social media sites.

It is professional, not personal.  Instead of connecting with your family and friends, you are connecting with experts, mentors, colleagues, potential employers/employees, potential customers, and advisees in the field.


A 2-4 second glance is all you get when one of these people decides whether to connect, accept, or converse with you.

Here are a few tips to present yourself well on LinkedIn.


Smile for Your Close Up

  • You must have a picture.
    • Similar to selling furniture online…you get more hits with pics.
  • Go solo.
    • Do not include other people in your profile picture.  That’s too social for this site.
  • Look professional.
    • Comb your hair, wear appropriate clothing, face the camera, and make sure your picture is well lit.
    • “Selfie poses” do not fly here.  Avoid taking the photo on an angle.
  • SMILE.
    • You are trying to connect with people here.  Psycho-killer stares and disgruntled facial gestures do not say “connect with me”.
  • Close up, but not too close.
    • Avoid full-body photos.  It is important that people can see your face. But, don’t let your face fill the area.
    • Center yourself in the photo so that your head has space on both sides of it.
    • The bottom of the photo should be somewhere between your waist and your shoulders. The top of the photo should be above your head.


“What’s in a Name?” A lot more than you think.

  • Included post-nominal letters with your last name
    • Let people see your credentials as soon as they read your name.
    • Do not include credentials that you have not yet earned.
      • Interns should avoid “pre-RDN” or “RDN”.
      • Graduate students should avoid including the degree with their last name until they have earned it.
  • Do not include a formal first name and a nickname.
    • ex. Wentworth (Wenny) Miller
    • Select which you want to use for your professional network.


Your Formal Title

The title needs to reveal your position(s) and your field in as few words as possible.  Many people struggle with this and I can relate as my title is a mouthful.

  • Try to use 10 words or less
  • Reveal your position and field
    • Including information about where you hold this position is mostly optional.
      • Dietetics student at Fantastic University
      • Dietetic intern and graduate candidate at University of the Best
      • Clinical Dietitian at Some Children’s Hospital
      • Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Adonis University
    • But, you may need to include other information if your title is nondescript
      • Director  (of what?)
      • Student (of what?)
      • Instructor (of what?)
      • Program Director (of what program?)



Use these tips to communicate your professional confidence in a couple of seconds.  You will be amazed at the effect that small changes like this will have on your ability to network on LinkedIn.


About the Author:         Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD 


Dr. Golem is the founder and CEO of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals.   She earned a PhD in Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University and has worked as a registered dietitian in a variety of settings.  Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

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