As much as LinkedIn seems to be turning into the worst parts of Facebook, flooded with tired memes that include phrases like "Only geniuses will get this math problem correct" or "Don't scroll past without saying AMEN!", having a LinkedIn profile is still generally considered a good idea for technologists. It can store business contacts in one convenient place, help you get found if you are open to new opportunities, come in handy if you are actively seeking work, and even double as a resume in a pinch.
As a technologist, you probably spend much less time on LinkedIn than I do in my recruiting work and for Resume Raiders (which added LinkedIn review services last year). In talking to clients about their LinkedIn profiles, I've learned there are a handful of things that aren't obvious to most users. Here are a few common misconceptions or unknown features:
A picture is worth 1,000 clicks (but sadly, no Amens) - LinkedIn's search algorithm includes "Profile Completeness", so profiles that are more complete should rank higher. If you click on Profile>Edit Profile from the dropdown menu, the Profile Strength meter should be in the upper-right of your screen. A full circle means your profile is complete, and filling out sections and adding a photo will help improve your completeness ranking and visibility.
Vanity URLs - By default, your LinkedIn profile might look something like www.linkedin.com/in/guido-van-rossum-8a35124z. That's not a big deal for most people, but try putting that monster URL on a resume (which I do recommend to my resume clients) and it takes up a whole line - so now you have to decide whether to delete your PhD or your Nobel Prize to keep it one page. To set a vanity URL, go to Profile>Edit Profile and you should see the current URL under your photo (or where your photo should be). If you hover over the URL, a gear icon will appear to the right of the URL. Click the gear and on the right side of the screen you will see a "Your public profile URL" section, with your current URL and a pen icon. Click the pen and you can edit this URL to make it shorter. Just don't forget to update any sites where you listed the previous URL (I am not aware of any forwarding for changed URLs). Take my advice, and don't be like Guido van Rossum (who didn't take my advice).
Drag and drop - Sections on your LinkedIn profile can be reordered to highlight your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. For recent grads we usually put Education sections near the top of resumes, so why should a LinkedIn profile be any different? While in the profile edit mode, hovering over any section will bring up an arrow on the right side which allows you to drag and drop sections.
Direct Contact - Recruiters who use LinkedIn may not have the most expensive accounts, which (to simplify) may limit how often they can invite people to connect. If you'd like people who see you on LinkedIn to reach out and rather they didn't send a connection request every time, why not include your email address in the Additional Info section?
Got something to say? - If you have things you want to write about but aren't interested in setting up and maintaining a dedicated blog, LinkedIn gives you the option to write posts that can be read by your professional network without having to go through all the hassle a blog can bring. It automatically broadcasts the content, allows you to tag articles to be found by people you aren't connected to, and maybe your content will get you found. After logging in you should see the option to "Publish a post" on the right side above your feed. The editor is clean (though you'll probably use Emacs), it allows comments, and you can even access some metrics on views and likes - though sadly, no metric on Amens.
LinkedIn isn't always the most useful platform, and most tend to agree that it's getting worse. However, spending a few minutes to optimize is probably a wise investment. And change your password.