With over 7 million registered users in Australia, and more than 92 million across the Asia Pacific region, LinkedIn is definitely the number one online tool for professional networking. Whether you’re searching for a new role, seeking to make the most of the one you have, or building your professional network to identify business development or partnership opportunities, there are certain mistakes you need to avoid while using LinkedIn.
Despite the fact that LinkedIn has been around now since 2002, and is used so prolifically, there is still a lot of confusion around how to get the best out of your profile. As consultants, we are often asked why we are making certain recommendations, but the mistakes we see time and time again are all too common. LinkedIn is different from other social networks, and you can’t use the same techniques that you use elsewhere. Here are 12 things you want to avoid doing on LinkedIn.
MISTAKE # 1 – Not having a photo: LinkedIn now states that profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to get viewed that those without. In addition, recruiters are more likely to skip over a profile in their search results if it doesn’t include a photo. So it pays to have one. It doesn’t have to be a professional shot, although it’s great if you can manage it. A simple photo of your head and shoulders taken against a white or plain background is fine. And don’t forget to smile – it’s not for a passport.
MISTAKE # 2 – Having an inappropriate photo: Just as bad as not having a photo, is having an inappropriate photo. I once had a client tell me that their photo wasn’t the best representation of them because he “was at a wedding at the time and had probably had a bit too much to drink” – really? That is not portraying your professional best. We recommend a nice shot of head and shoulders in professional attire – for some that might be a suit, for others it will be a work t-shirt.
MISTAKE # 3 – Using it Like Facebook or Twitter: LinkedIn is a professional medium. It’s meant for professional communication. Don’t post ‘what’s on your mind’ unless it relates specifically to your career goals, and don’t vent about ANYTHING on LinkedIn! Keep your posts specific and positive. Posting a link to an article that adds value to your industry is also a great idea.
MISTAKE # 4 – Lying: about anything – it’s a public forum so if you didn’t do it, don’t say you did. If you helped do something – say so. Lying on your Resume is bad, but lying on LinkedIn is even worse. It is likely you will get found out and the consequences probably just won’t be worth it.
MISTAKE # 5 – Having an incomplete profile: Having a complete profile not only helps you get found more often by recruiters, it also sends a great message about your professionalism to the people that do end up viewing your profile. If you don’t complete your profile, you’re indicating that you’re just not that serious about your career.
MISTAKE # 6 – Waiting till you need it to pay any attention: Try to use LinkedIn to connect with others when you’re comfortable in a role. Waiting until you need it (i.e. you’ve just lost your job, or had a huge argument with a superior and need to get out quick) will put pressure on the situation. If you have to connect with someone and ask for something straight away – it can be difficult. Instead, by gradually building up your contacts, learning from them and providing them with opportunities to learn from you – the relationships that you develop over time can then be more easily leveraged once you actually need them.
MISTAKE # 7 – Having a static profile: Once you establish your LinkedIn profile, don’t forget about it! Make the effort to regularly review the content, make updates where appropriate, and share status updates and other information with your network. While you don’t have to feel pressured to provide constant updates like other social networking platforms, you do need to make some regular effort.
MISTAKE # 8 – Not including supporting information: make sure you link to blogs, websites, presentations, and projects etc. where people can learn more about you and the professional successes you’ve achieved. Anything that supports your career can be included.
MISTAKE # 9 – Not making it easy for people to contact you: inviting people to connect, contact you for advice and including information like volunteer and charity work will all help you engage with like-minded people. Make sure you provide details on how people can connect and offer to help or provide advice where you can.
MISTAKE # 10 – Not responding: As a LinkedIn user, you will receive emails and connection requests from others. Not responding in a timely manner is bad business. Likewise, making judgements about people’s motives could be a mistake. Try to treat the enquiry in the same way you would if they contacted your business through the usual channels. Don’t waste time obviously, but try not to ignore people that you initially perceive as not being able to add value.
MISTAKE # 11 – Trying to connect with random people: While you don’t have to restrict your networking efforts to people you’ve done business with, you do need to provide context if you’re sending a connection request to someone new. We recommend personalising all connection requests, so do this by providing a personal message explaining your reason for the connection request. Don’t be tempted to send out random connection requests because if too many of those people click “I don’t know this person”, LinkedIn could suspend your account.
MISTAKE # 12 – Forgetting to customise your LinkedIn URL – the automated personal URL created when you set up your profile usually includes a combination of your name with lots of letters and numbers at the end. Take advantage of the vanity URL and customise it to reflect the best version of your first and last names or your business name.
LinkedIn is a valuable professional networking tool that has a raft of features and benefits that you need to be taking advantage of in order to achieve the best results. If you’re making any of these mistakes, they’re very easy to fix – go ahead and make some changes today.
Do you have trouble networking? Are you lacking a good quality LinkedIn profile to help you find and connect with like-minded industry experts or maximise your job search? If you would like assistance writing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please click here for our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.