LinkedIn: How to Sign Up and Create a Profile

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Sign Up for LinkedIn

Getting a LinkedIn account is easy but a little more involved than at some other social networking sites, which simply ask you to create a username and password. LinkedIn's sign-up process involves four tasks:

  1. Fill out the simple form on LinkedIn’s homepage (pictured above) with your name, email address and desired password.
  2. Then you’ll be asked to fill out a profile form that is only slightly longer, asking for your job title, employer’s name and geographic location.
  3. You’ll be asked to confirm your email address by clicking on a link in a message sent to you by LinkedIn.
  4. Finally, you’ll choose whether you want a free or paid account.

That’s it. The process should take about five minutes.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these forms and the choices you’ll make in filling them out.

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The Join LinkedIn Today Box

Use Your Real Name

Everyone starts by filling out the "Join LinkedIn Today" box on the homepage at linkedin.com. It may seem obvious, but this is one service where everyone should sign up with their real names. Otherwise, they lose the benefits of business networking.

So enter your real name and email address in the boxes and create a password for accessing LinkedIn. Don’t forget to write it down and save it. Ideally, your password will contain a mix of numbers and letters, both upper and lower case.

Finally, click the JOIN NOW button at the bottom.

The form will disappear and you will be invited to create your professional profile by describing your current employment status.

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How to Create a Basic Profile on LinkedIn

Filling out a simple form allows you to create a basic professional profile on LinkedIn in a minute or two.

The profile boxes vary based on which employment status you select, such as “currently employed” or “looking for work.”

The first box by default says you are “currently employed.” You can change that by clicking the small arrow to the right and selecting an alternate status, such as "I am a student.” Whichever status you select will cause other questions to pop up, such as school names if you’re a student.

Enter your geographic details—country and zip code--and your company name if you are employed. When you start typing a business name, LinkedIn will attempt to show you specific company names from its database that match the letters you type. Selecting a company name that pops up will make it easier for LinkedIn to match you with co-workers at that company, by ensuring that the business name is entered correctly.

If LinkedIn can't find your company name in its database, choose an industry that matches your employer from the long list that appears when you click on the small right arrow next to the “Industry” box.

If you are employed, type your current position into the “Job Title” box.

When you’re done, click the "Create My Profile" button at the bottom. You have now created a bare-bones profile on LinkedIn.

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The LinkedIn Screen You Can Ignore

LinkedIn will immediately invite you to identify other LinkedIn members you already know, but you should feel free to click the '"Skip this step" link at the bottom right.

Connecting with other members takes some time.

Right now, it’s a good idea to stay focused and finish your account setup before you start trying to identify potential connections for your LinkedIn network.

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Confirm Your Email Address

Next, LinkedIn will ask you to validate the email address you provided on the first screen. You should follow the instructions for confirming, which vary based on the address you gave.

If you signed up with a Gmail address, it will invite you to sign into Google directly.

Alternately, you can click the link at the bottom that says, “Send a confirmation email instead.” I recommend you do that.

LinkedIn will then send a link to your email address. You can open another browser tab or window to go and click on that link.

The link will take you right back to the LinkedIn website, where you’ll be asked to click yet another “confirm” button, and then sign into LinkedIn with the password you created at the beginning.

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You're Almost Done

You’ll see a “Thank you” and “You’re almost done” message, along with a big box inviting you to enter email addresses of your colleagues and friends to connect with them.

It’s a good idea to click “skip this step” again so you can finalize your account ​setup. As you can see, you’re on step 5 out of a total of 6 steps, so you’re close.

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Choose Your LinkedIn Plan Level

After clicking “skip this step” on the previous screen, you should see a message that "your account is set up."

Your final step is to "choose your plan level," which means deciding whether you want a free or a premium account.

The main differences between the account types are listed in the chart. Premium accounts, for example, allow you to send messages to people you are not directly connected with. They also allow you to develop fancier search filters and see more detailed results, as well as seeing everyone has viewed your LinkedIn profile.

The easiest option is to go with the free account. It offers a lot of the same features, and you can always upgrade later after you learn how to use LinkedIn and decide that you need some of the advanced features.

To select the free account, click the small "CHOOSE BASIC" Button at the bottom right.

Congratulations, you're a LinkedIn member!