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When I was growing up, I worked in my dad's grocery store. Near the end of the day, I would remove, refill and rotate merchandise and "pull the shelves" so they'd be full when we opened the doors in the morning.iStock_000015590542Small If we didn't have enough product to fill the shelf, we rearranged the inventory so the shelves looked full.

What does this have to do with LinkedIn, you ask?

Well, I like to think of the Skills section on your profile as your pantry full of your most important keywords that I can endorse you for.

This section is an extremely important part of the LinkedIn search algorithm, and it's also a great way for you to clearly describe your business goals and objectives to your LinkedIn audience.


Easy ways to stock your "Skills pantry"

Most people will spend only a few minutes looking at your profile. As they skim your profile, the list of skills is an easy way to quickly assess your expertise. Thus, you want your "skills shelf" to look fully stocked and in good order.

Here are four simple steps you can take to enhance your Skills section.

*Note: You must be in Edit Profile mode and begin by clicking Edit in the Skills section.

1.  Eliminate irrelevant skills.  If they're not currently important to you and probably won't be important in the future, get rid of them. Simply click the "X" to the right of the skill to eliminate it. Any endorsements you've received for that skill will disappear as well, but if it's not "fresh stock," it's not helping you anyway.

2.  Rearrange your skills.  People are more likely to endorse you for the skills that are near the top of the list, so put your "freshest inventory" (your most important keywords) in the front. Simply click the words and drag them up or down.

From time to time you might want to "rotate your inventory." If you have quite a few endorsements for your "top 10" skills, consider moving some of your "second tier" skills to the top for a while. This should result in more endorsements for these skills.

3.  Add additional important skills.  By looking at the profiles of other people in your industry, you might find additional skills you should Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 6.58.16 AMadd to your profile. Check your competitors' profiles for skills you may have overlooked.

LinkedIn will also help you find skills you may want to include on your profile. Simply type one of your keywords into the What are your areas of expertise? box, and a list of suggestions will appear.

You should also list your products and services, including specific brand names. When I was an office furniture dealer, I included the words office furniture, interior design, and Haworth (our main brand). They may not seem like skills to you, but they're keywords that display your expertise, and people can endorse you for them.

Also, be sure to include derivations of your skills. Notice how I did this on my profile.Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 6.58.53 AM

I strongly suggest you fill your shelves up with your 50 best keywords. Fifty is the limit in this section--and usually when LinkedIn puts a limit on something, it's a goodie. So take advantage of all 50.

4.  Review this section often.  Over time you may develop new skills, change your business focus, or develop a new LinkedIn strategy. Be sure your Skills section is up to date and displays your most important areas of expertise as well as the products and services you offer in your marketplace.

In summary, keep your shelves fully stocked with your best inventory. It's a sure-fire way to keep your customers happy and coming back for more. And thanks to my dad for sharing this great advice with me so many years ago.