6 things you should never do on LinkedIn
There's no doubt that LinkedIn is firmly established as the social network of choice for professionals around the world, with over 277 million registered members at the last count. It is undeniably a worthwhile channel to invest time in as it can provide you a valuable network for business and employment opportunities.
That said, as with any social media channel, LinkedIn comes with some unspoken etiquette that users should try to practice in order to maintain professionalism and, importantly, credibility.
If you want to avoid looking like a social networking amateur or worse, a social pest, try to avoid these six key blunders when it comes to using LinkedIn.
1. Connecting with total strangers
Although having an extensive network can be a boost to your professional credentials and make you appear very well connected, you should never give into the temptation of sending invitations to everyone whose names you've vaguely heard of (or worse never heard of). Yes this is a networking site but it helps to find some common ground or a mutual contact to create a warm link rather than a cold contact.
When you are inviting people to join your network, make the effort to send a personalised message, putting the request to connect in context. This is especially important if you are trying to connect with someone you have never met.
2. Blatantly lying about or embellishing your professional experience
Your LinkedIn profile is akin to an online resume, except it is instantly visible to the world.
No matter how well you think you can withhold information from your peers or make up accomplishments, you will be found out and look the worse for it. Honesty is always the best policy, so make sure you stick to the facts and present an accurate picture of your career.
3. Limiting the information you include in your profile
Your LinkedIn profile is just that – your professional profile. The less information you include, the less opportunity you will have to generate quality connections.
Including your education, past roles and memberships gives you a credible means to reach out to new connections (particularly if you share mutual connections)
Likewise, leaving out your summary statement might seem like a minor oversight but you're missing out on a great chance to sum up your career in a nutshell and craft a snapshot of yourself to the world. If you are reaching out to people what are they going to see when they come to your page? Is it what you would expect to see on someone else's page?
4. Using an inappropriate profile photo
Don’t make the biggest mistake of all; treating LinkedIn like Facebook. Yes they are two of the biggest social networks today but they differ immensely in purpose.
As already mentioned, your LinkedIn profile is your online CV, so resist uploading that photo from last Friday's office party or of your favourite Simpsons character. Don't use a photo of your cat or your baby, one that looks like it belongs on a dating website and certainly don’t use a mug shot that makes you look like a criminal either.
Use a clear, good-quality profile photo that reflects the professional image you want to portray. It may sound a little boring, but will support you when you're making connections or applying for a job as potential employers do look at this. A “creative” profile picture will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.
5. Endorsing people you have never worked or done business with
The idea behind endorsements is valid but the reality is a little different.
LinkedIn endorsements have quickly lost street cred given that many users are spruiking skills of connections that they cannot actually vouch for. An endorsement is a very short form style of reference. If you are really not sure if someone is good at something, don’t endorse it. Ignore the temptation to tick a box or do someone a favour in the hope they will return it and endorse you. It’s simply not good practice.
6. Accepting endorsements for skills you don’t have
Likewise, if you are a receptionist and someone endorses you for corporate strategy, don’t accept it. If you are a registered nurse and happen to be endorsed for marketing strategy, don’t accept it. You may be looking to develop skills in areas or change careers but if you can’t say that you have done it as part of your employment, then you can’t really call it a skill because a skill can be demonstrated.
Again LinkedIn is very transparent. It’s not going to make you look any better having a list of endorsements for irrelevant and inaccurate skills.
Similarly, don't deliberately ask people for recommendations either, especially if you're not close with them or haven't worked with them before.
LinkedIn can certainly seem like a tricky field to navigate, as one little error can cost you important credibility points. However, by keeping in mind these tips, you can step out with the confidence you need to grow your online network.
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