LinkedIn is a great tool for supporting your career development plans. More and more organisations are using it as a recruitment tool, so if you are not featured at all you are missing a trick. However, there are also plenty of people out there who do have a LinkedIn profile but have a sub-optimal approach.

There are a couple of important ‘must haves’: It is essential you post a good, recent businesslike picture of yourself. People buy from people and a picture helps build early rapport, particularly with potential employers and recruiters. Does your headline just repeat your job title, or does it contain a succinct phrase that rapidly illustrates where you add value to an organisation?

Ensure your profile focuses on your achievements, not your responsibilities. Think about the search terms recruiters are looking for and make sure your profile contains them too!

Many active LinkedIn users tend to collect contacts, ending up with huge lists of individuals. Think quality rather than quantity. By all means connect with former bosses, staff and customers, but if you are one of those with hundreds of contacts, think long and hard about who the real influencers are in your network and try to develop professional relationships with this core.

Think about putting something back into the network. Why not reflect on how you might help kick start other people’s professional relationships and introduce like-minded individuals in your network to each other?

LinkedIn can be useful as preparation for interviews. Exploring any cross connections that the interviewer might have is one way to build a rapport. It also goes some way to alleviating nerves if you can do some homework.

You can also take a proactive approach and use LinkedIn to uncover potential opportunities. Take a look at companies you might like to work for and see who in your own network knows someone in situ, and then look to establish referrals and potential introductions. You can also look for individuals with a similar career structure to yourself and explore what moves they have made.

So, don’t think you have done your job by simply having a profile on LinkedIn with a long list of contacts. Start thinking about how you can use it to your advantage.