Every young professional needs to understand the power of networking. As many young professionals look to build their network and their networking skills many have joined, or will join, on-line professional social networks such as Spoke or LinkedIn. However, putting up a profile and picture is not enough. Building a professional profile, one that is powerful and gets you noticed, takes some effort.

 Just because you’re on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you’re utilizing it properly or taking full advantage of all it has to offer.  As a matter of fact, there are many young professionals making basic mistakes with their personal profiles on on-line professional social networks such as LinkedIn.  If you want to fully take advantage of the power social media networking has to offer, make sure you avoid these common mistakes.

1.    Using a non-professional photo – remember, LinkedIn is a professional networking site.  If you want everyone to see your latest party photo, put it on Facebook instead. I don’t think you want potential employers or clients to see you at your worst.  Also remember, a profile with a photo is much better than one without.

2.    Having your LinkedIn network comprised solely of people you work with – Isn’t the point of networking getting to know people you don’t already know or have a relationship with?  No wonder there are no referrals or new employment offers coming your way if you only network with your co-workers.  Time to think a little more broadly about the people you know and who should be in your on-line network.

3.    Only networking on LinkedIn and other on-line sources – At some point you need to develop your person to person skills, sitting at your desk and only networking over the computer won’t cut it.  You really should get out and press the flesh.  Trust me, it works.

4.    Not joining LinkedIn groups – there’s a whole world out there of people with similar interests. Use it to your advantage.  The online groups are great for sharing knowledge, learning and best practices as well as finding potential clients, referral sources and jobs.  Get plugged in!

5.    Never making updates to your status or profile – if you aren’t updating your profile that means you’re not really doing anything, right? In order to maximize your network you need to let them know what you’re up to.  It is also a great way to showcase your thought-leadership as well.

6.    Never asking for recommendations or giving them – if you’ve done some good things that your co-workers, vendors or bosses liked you should let your network know. Go ahead and ask for recommendations.  Conversely, no one likes someone who doesn’t play well in the sandbox.  If you have something nice to say about a co-worker, boss or vendor, then by all means please give them a recommendation.  They will appreciate it.

7.    Falling victim to the “teenager syndrome” - While you want to update your status regularly, please don’t fall into the trap of the “teenager syndrome” and post irrelevant things on LinkedIn.  No one in your professional network cares that you’re headed out early on a Friday, upset about the copy machine or that you’re going to have drinks with friends tonight.  Keep it on a professional level, it’s much more effective and your contacts will appreciate it, and you, so much more.

There are plenty of other mistakes that people make with LinkedIn and other professional social media networking sites.  To keep it more manageable and easier to remember I kept it to only seven ideas to remember.  It is important that you manage your on-line social network and put it to work for you.

Timothy Allen is managing principal of AMG Marketing in Madison,Wis. He can be reached at tim@amgmarketing.net.