Our Australian marketing director Carolyn Hyams, always has a wealth of advice to give on our Firebrand blog. And her recent blog post about LinkedIn gaffes is no exception.
Which LinkedIn party foul are you currently committing?
I can safely say that everyone I’m in contact with through business is on LinkedIn these days (and if you’re not, you should be).
It’s a (mostly effective) 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 annoy them.
I thought I’d share my candid thoughts on what you should avoid doing on LinkedIn if you want to build real relationships and connections.
1. Don’t burn your bridges publically on LinkedIn
If you have an issue and you want to vent, hold back and save your personal brand. Don’t post Linkedin updates trashing recruiters, past employers or anyone really. It will come back to bite you in the bum one day.
2. Don’t lie — you will be found out
And it will be embarrassing. After all, look what happened to former Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson.
3. Don’t be lazy when sending invitations to connect
Write a customised note. I get really irritated when people can’t be bothered to write a 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 asking people if they’d like to customise their message. Cringe! Still waiting for LinkedIn to fix this…
4. Don’t send the same message to everyone
At some point, you’ll be caught out and they know you haven’t read their profile properly.
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?
5. Don’t use a logo, a party photo, wedding photo, or a selfie (call me old fashioned) as your profile image
No exceptions. LinkedIn is a professional networking site and an awesome way to build your personal brand — this sets a very bad first impression.
6. Oh, and if you post something on your LinkedIn profile starting with ‘I know I shouldn’t share this on LinkedIn but…’ — please don’t!
Stop oversharing. Stop treating LinkedIn like Facebook — even though LinkedIn is trying to make it look like Facebook.
7. Don’t sticky beak profiles with your privacy settings set to “anonymous”
It makes them feel like someone is stalking them. Totally creepy.
8. 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. Mix it up. 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.
9. Don’t overdo your LinkedIn 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 free Buffer App to spread out and schedule your updates if necessary.
10. Don’t post anything and everything
Stick to content that is going to show your expertise and build your personal brand. Publishing meaningless content is going to hinder your personal brand, not promote it.
11. Don’t post links or your updates to every single LinkedIn group you belong to
Be targeted. 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 LinkedIn 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.
12. Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar
Trust me, you will be judged on LinkedIn if you do stupid things like writing ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ (Had to slip my pet hate in). 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 limits.
13. Don’t believe all LinkedIn recommendations
Seriously, at the best of times, LinkedIn recommendations are dodgy. To quote ex Firebrand Founder, 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.” Most recommendations tend to be a “LinkedIn tit for tat recommendation love-in” — simply reciprocal requests.
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.
14. That brings me to LinkedIn endorsements. Nothing makes you look worse than endorsing someone that you don’t know
Why do this? You’re getting their attention for all the wrong reasons.
15. 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.
16. Don’t email your new connection asking for something as soon as they’ve connected with you
It usually happens when someone invites me to connect and their job title is “Business Development Manager” or “Account Manager” or “Entrepreneur”. It’s inevitable that they won’t wait. (They’ll message me straight away promoting their services. Sometimes I like to play a game where I’ll count how long it will take to get that message. I’m rarely disappointed.)
Have I missed anything? Please share your LinkedIn “pet hates” as comments to this post.
P.S. This is an updated post from my previous popular blog post.