Carolyn Hyams, our Australian digital marketing director, always has a wealth of advice to give on the Firebrand blog (Firebrand is an Aquent brand down under). We’ve cherry picked this blog entry because it seemed as apropos to us on the north of the equator as south.
Almost everyone I’m in contact with through business is on LinkedIn these days (and if you’re not, you should be). It’s a brilliant, professional, online business networking site and a place where you’re expected to promote yourself through your own profile and other areas of the site. Having said that, I consistently hear people moaning about a number of things that their connections do that really annoys them.
Since my post on 18 things you should not do on Twitter was so well received, I thought I’d share my candid thoughts on what you should avoid on LinkedIn.
- Don’t lie — you will be found out. And it will be embarrassing. After all, look what happened to former Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson.
- Don’t send an invitation to connect stating that you’re a “friend” if you don’t know the person. People hate it and won’t accept.
- Don’t be lazy when sending invitations to connect. I get really irritated when people can’t be bothered to write a customised message to me when asking to connect. It makes me think they’re just trying to connect to as many people as possible, rather than looking to nurture a professional relationship. Unfortunately, on some LinkedIn pages like on “People you may know” (and on an iPad and smartphone), LinkedIn sends invitations to connect, without giving people an opportunity to customise their message and without warning. Cringe!
- Don’t forget to read a person’s profile before sending them a personal message to connect. Don’t send the same message to everyone. True story: I received an invite to connect with a message asking to meet me for a coffee to explore a potential partnership. When I wrote back saying “What do you mean by potential partnership?”, the person wrote back, apologising and admitted that they didn’t read my profile properly. I guess no coffee then?
- Don’t use a logo as your profile image. 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 Firebrand’s company page.
- Don’t use anything other than your full name on your profile. 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 suspicious. I’ve seen spammers do this often. And whilst I’m on this subject, don’t change your privacy settings to “anonymous” when you’re looking at other people’s profile. It makes them feel like someone is stalking them.
- Don’t boast too much. Although LinkedIn was primarily built as a business networking tool, no-one likes to see you constantly talking about yourself or your company. Every now and then is 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. And don’t forget to credit your source.
- Don’t overdo your status updates. 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 personal recommendation would be a maximum of 3 per day – spaced out over time. Try using the Buffer App to schedule your updates if necessary.
- Don’t add ALL your tweets to your LinkedIn status update. If you share all your tweets on LinkedIn during the day, we get back to my point about over-sharing updates and it will irritate your connections. Secondly, many tweets will contain @Twitter handles, hashtags etc — This might irritate people. However my advice would be to make an 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. Think about what you are posting and decide which groups would be interested in what you have to say or joining in a discussion. Warning — many groups don’t like members posting links to other blogs/websites. It comes across as a promotion masquerading as discussion. Some prefer pure discussions/questions. Have a read of the group rules to make sure what you are posting is appropriate.
- Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar. Think of Twitter as a “cocktail party” and LinkedIn as a business conference and customise your messaging accordingly. On LinkedIn, you are expected to use good grammar and not make spelling mistakes. And certainly, using “u” “r” or “gr8” doesn’t cut it. You can get away with this a little on Twitter because of the character limit, but trust me, you will be “professionally” judged on LinkedIn.
- Don’t believe all LinkedIn Recommendations and Endorsements. Seriously, a lot of the time, LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements are dodgy. To quote former Firebrand CEO, Greg Savage in a post he wrote on LinkedIn “How can we possibly take LinkedIn recommendations seriously when they are mostly solicited, reciprocal, and worst of all – self-published! If you don’t like what they say, even in nuance, you don’t approve it.” If you’re doing a reference check on someone, don’t go by their LinkedIn recommendations, call up their referees instead and ask all the right questions. And as far as Endorsements go, sometimes I get complete strangers endorsing me for skills they have never personally witnessed. Take endorsements with a pinch of salt.
- Don’t add a connection’s email address to your email database without asking permission. Just because they agree to connect with you, it doesn’t mean they want to receive your email marketing. They will report you and your company as a spammer. Likewise, don’t treat LinkedIn as an email database and email your connections every bit of news you can think of. They will remove you as a connection.
Has Carolyn missed anything? Please share your LinkedIn “pet hates” as comments!