LinkedIn Dan Schawbel[Editor's Note: This belongs to a series of contributing guest author posts from LinkedIn users sharing tips, tricks, and tweaks on getting the most from your LinkedIn usage. Dan Schawbel is the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 09). You can also receive regular career tips on his Personal Branding Blog.]

I remember when I was a junior at Bentley University (College at the time) and someone from my dorm ran over to me and told me about Facebook.  He had gotten our school as one of the first 16 schools on Facebook and was promoting it all over the place.  I rejected it at first because I didn’t understand it and was too busy studying and partying, to waste my time.  Slowly, I went through the process of rejection, curiosity, trying, liking and then loving it.  With LinkedIn, I had a similar experience, except I viewed it as a necessity because recruiters were already searching for passive candidates on there and I didn’t want to be ostracized.

Fast forward to today. I speak at many different colleges and to my surprise, not every student knows what LinkedIn is, so I always have to take time to give a summary of LinkedIn, its value and benefits. I really emphasize why it’s  become one of the most important recruiting tools in the world and the majority of “good” headhunters have already signed up.  LinkedIn, to me, has become the ultimate database of relationships and since networking is the key to getting anywhere in life, it’s significant to my professional development.  It’s given me an avenue to connect with professionals and has helped position me as a leading personal branding expert.

Here are five tips on using a professional networking site like LinkedIn to build your personal and professional brand on the web:

1. Use LinkedIn Groups: Out of all the features on LinkedIn, I think the groups feature reigns supreme.  It positions you as an expert and, just like people who start events; it makes you the center of information and the “connector.”  I started the Personal Branding Network on LinkedIn about a month or so ago and have already built it up to 841 users!  The value I’ve received out of this group is tremendous and now I spend less time updating the group because it’s generated a powerful community that support’s its growth.

2. Fill out your profile completely: I know that people use this tip all the time, but it’s important to repeat it because you don’t want to appear that you don’t do much.  If you’ve had a lot of great work experience, then use all of it.  Take your current resume and use all the fields in your LinkedIn profile, so that you can stand out.

3. Unique URL: For personal branding, you need to attach everything on the web to your full name and LinkedIn has vanity URL’s that you can use to help you control your Google results.  LinkedIn, as a major website, as a high Google PageRank and gives you the ability to make a linkedin.com/in/yourfullname URL, which typically ranks very high for your name.

4. Applications: When applications first came out, I was praying that it wouldn’t be like how Facebook did it and I was right.  I find great value in two of the applications LinkedIn currently supports: WordPress blog RSS and Slideshare.net. Having your blog syndicate through your profile is valuable to showing employers that you’re already writing about topics you’re interested in and a Slideshare presentation also makes you look like you’re contributing great value.

5. Linking: Your LinkedIn profile you should with you as you build profiles on other social networks, your website, blogs, etc.  I tell a lot of people to use their LinkedIn profile URL on their traditional resume, and as the one link they have on Twitter, if they don’t have a blog.  LinkedIn profiles are easy to read and are focused on your professional careers, so using the URL everywhere is a great idea for you.

Feel free to share any other tips you may have on personal branding in the comments section