imageIf you’re contemplating or already engaged in a job search, a strong profile on LinkedIn.com is an absolute must these days. You never know who might be considering you at any given moment.

Create a polished profile from scratch, or dust off and revitalize an inactive account—and you don’t need to spend a dime. Your only cost is a little time, a touch of energy, and a bit of creativity.

Here are 10 proactive steps to an eye catching LinkedIn profile:

Step 1: Establish a free account with LinkedIn.com. The free account has so many bells and whistles that you don’t need to start with a paid membership.

Step 2: Don’t reinvent the wheel, simply migrate the content from your resume over to your LinkedIn profile. And add a current professional picture (or business casual) to link a face with the content.

Step 3: Be sure to include branding titles at the onset of your LinkedIn profile. These titles describe either key roles you can fill or functional areas you are prepared to oversee (Project Manager vs. Project Management).

Step 4: Develop a strong narrative (similar to your elevator speech) to introduce your profile and provide focus on the career role that you are currently pursuing.

Step 5: Use the Specialties section of your LinkedIn account to highlight your core areas of strength and expertise (these key terms should be pulled directly from the “Profile” or “Summary of Qualifications” section of your resume).

Step 6: Enter your career experience into the LinkedIn account (current/most recent position first) and focus on presenting strong descriptions of your contributions and accomplishments while with each employer rather than a boring list of your job duties.

Step 7: Seek out credible recommendations from colleagues, references, clients; and when possible, offer solid recommendations in return.

Step 8: Search for groups on LinkedIn. There are thousands of groups available, so consider your career experience, academic background, community interest/volunteerism and current interests when searching for groups on Linked. Group participation offers the potential to immediately start expanding your network.

Step 9:  Consider the add-ons and account features that will allow you to showcase your work samples, projects and assignments. And keep people informed on your current professional activities.

Step 10: Work that “SPIDER” effect and continue to seek out, contact and connect with professionals who are interested in networking. Remember that the hidden value in e-networking is in your ability to reach out and establish second and third tier connections, or even further.

imageContributing blogger John Long is a professional career coach and consultant in Atlanta who founded Two Roads Resources. He blogs at Atlanta Career Coach.