If you haven’t noticed it yet, LinkedIn is one of the leading communication tools for professionals and most likely the 1st point where hiring managers and recruiters ‘check you out’.
I guess you have heard it before, but I can’t stress it often enough. No matter what you do, whether you are on LinkedIn for business networking, marketing, job seeking or career advice, the chance that someone ‘checks you out’ so to speak is very high. After all, this is mainly what LinkedIn is all about. This applies especially to recruiters who are hooked into LinkedIn.
Nearly everyone I’m in contact with through business has a proper LinkedIn profile these days. It is THE professional, online business networking site and currently the only business place where you’re expected to promote yourself through your own profile and in other areas of the site.
The increasing problem with LinkedIn is the fact that it is morphing more and more into a job portal versus its initial calling as a professional networking portal. I have accepted LinkedIn for what it is but I also regularly receive feedback from my clients regarding their frustrations with the site. Most of the feedback is pointing at etiquette mistakes and an increasing overflow of content and connection requests.
I thought I’d share my candid thoughts on what you should avoid on LinkedIn from the view of a Job Search Coach.
- No fibs please! —You will be found out.
- Don’t send an invitation to connect adding the “you’re a friend” button if you don’t know the person. People hate it and won’t accept.
- Don’t be one of those lame connectors when you send invitations to connect. It really shows poor form when you can’t be bothered to write a proper personal message when you ask someone to connect with you. It is one of the things that really bothers me and it makes me think they’re just trying to connect to as many people as possible, rather than looking to nurture a professional relationship. You know the type? Those guys with 500 + connections. Most of them are likely genuine networkers, but the number of ‘collectors’ is increasing every day and it spoils the whole LinkedIn experience. Don’t be a collector!
- Actually take some time out to read a person’s profile before sending them a personal message to connect. Don’t send the same message to everyone. Example: I regularly receive invitations from professionals who want to connect with me so they can sell their services. Most of these messages are templates and what they really show is a lack of professionalism. Don’t do it- there is not much more to add to this one.
- Are you a logo or a real person? This is one of the worst! No exceptions. LinkedIn is a professional networking site — people to people, not people to logos. There is a different place on LinkedIn to add your company logo, overview etc. called Company Pages. Here’s an example of a good page.
- Please organise a proper photo. It really does not matter what your reason for the profile is. Please have a proper photo. If you want to learn how to do it, read one of my more recent blog posts on that subject. If you are a Job Seeker, put some real effort into this. It’s all about 1st impressions and one of the main things that jumps out at hiring managers when they check you out is the photo. So, don’t blow your 1st opportunity with your last party photo or a silly shot in front of your car.
- Don’t use anything other than your full name on your profile. Gen Y and even Gen X – please note, this is not Facebook! There’s an option to use your first name only with an initial for your family name, but why would you do that? It looks a bit strange and maybe even suspicious. My first thought would be that you are a spammer. Oh, and before I forget, what do you do on LinkedIn if you have set your privacy setting to ‘anonymous’ when you’re looking at other people’s profiles. What do you have to hide? Don’t do that – no matter who you are, I think it shows a big weakness. Do you have something to hide? How would you feel when you see ‘anonymous’? Don’t expect business or connections. It makes users feel like someone is stalking them.
- Please don’t brag so much. I know, LinkedIn was primarily built as a business networking tool, but don’t confuse networking with bragging. It’s similar to the guys in networking functions who constantly talk about themselves versus actually listening and connecting. No one likes to see you constantly talking about yourself or your company. Every now and then it’s okay. Like other ‘social’ sites, sharing interesting information you’ve found is appreciated – even if you didn’t originally find it or write it yourself. Oh, and also don’t forget to credit your source. If you feel that is too much work, at least have the courtesy to hyperlink.
- Please check your Privacy settings – especially your status updates. How annoying is it when you receive these regular status updates. This is one of the top 3 complaints my clients mention when they speak about LinkedIn. Guys please note, your status updates appear in the newsfeed of all your connections, so if you are constantly adding status updates through the day, it’s going to annoy those who are regularly on LinkedIn. My tip: Actual content = once or twice per day. Profile updates = I strongly advise to check your settings! If all this is too hard, try out this LinkedIn Buffer App to schedule your updates if you really think everyone needs to know about them.
- Hello Birdies – Please don’t link ALL your tweets to your LinkedIn status update. This is the second most common complaint from LinkedIn users. Don’t be one of these guys who shares all your tweets on LinkedIn during the day (see my point above about over-sharing updates). If you don’t want to alienate your LinkedIn contacts, don’t irritate them with your constant tweettledees. Also note, most tweets contain @Twitter handles, hashtags etc — This is the part that irritates people. Having said that, LinkedIn actually picks up ‘@’ handles and links them to Twitter profiles and hashtags convert to LinkedIn searches which can be quite handy. But I suggest that you make a real effort to customise what you’d like to say on LinkedIn to encourage engagement and sharing.
- Don’t post links or your updates to every single group you belong to. You have to think before you engage. Review your posts before you hit the send button and decide which groups would be interested in what you have to say or joining in a discussion. Oh, and while we are on that topic, there is a large number of groups who are very protective of their readership and don’t like members posting links to other blogs/websites. This is hard if you are a blogger like me, as it is perceived as self promotion masquerading as discussion. I make a strong effort to ensure that my content has good value and is free of commercial offers. A number of groups prefer pure discussions/questions. The best way to deal with this is to regularly review your standing with the group and more importantly to read through the group rules to make sure what you are posting is appropriate.
- Spelling and grammar. It’s a tough one. It’s increasingly common to see abbreviations and depending on the circle also increasingly common to be more relaxed about spelling and grammar. I am not great as English is my second language, but I make an effort to be as good as I can. If you are a Job Seeker or Career Changer – Triple Check! Seriously. I have received some narky messages from some LinkedIn professionals who pointed out that I make mistakes with my punctuation. etc. It’s one of my weak points and I made an effort to explain and improve. Most of them accepted my feedback while a few were just overly “teachy” about it. I mailed them a great link and never heard from them again. So, guys, the short version – on LinkedIn, you are expected to use good grammar and not make spelling mistakes. Certainly, using text-speak such as “u” “r” or “gr8” is not wise. It tends to show your maturity if you know what I mean. You can get away with this a little on Twitter because of the character limit but you will most likely be judged on LinkedIn.
- Most LinkedIn recommendations are a waste of time. Disclaimer! The recommendations I have received are genuine and I like to thank my former Managers and Co-workers. I occasionally go back to them to read them when I have a bad moment as they make me feel good and I get a moment to remember ‘good old days’ but I personally know that most Hiring Managers and Recruiters prefer the good old fashioned reference check over bloomy LinkedIn recommendations. That being said, a written recommendation on LinkedIn is definitely worth more than the simple ‘ticks’ received for the various skills.
- Email grabbers! Don’t add a connection’s email address to your email database without asking permission. This one is my personal pet hates! Just because I agree to connect with you, doesn’t mean I want to receive your email marketing. Too many users treat LinkedIn as an email database and email their connections every bit of news they can think of. They leave me no choice and so I tend to remove them as a connection.
These are the most common complaints. I know there are more – it all depends how much you use LinkedIn and if you are hooked on the portal you might have more.
Start with these 14 tips and see if you can improve your LinkedIn profile and participation. Your network will thank you and your connections will certainly improve. My summary about LinkedIn is very simple. It’s not who you know, it’s who wants to know you. So keep it simple and genuine and when you are searching for new meaningful connections don’t forget to hunt wisely!