15 LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid

LinkedIn is different from other social networks, and you can’t use the same techniques there that you do elsewhere. Here are 15 things you want to avoid doing on LinkedIn.

Are you using LinkedIn or planning to in the future? You may know little about the platform but your colleagues are making professional connections so you thought you would give it a go too.

LinkedIn does a great job of walking you through the steps to get started but once you’re done, you’re on your own. Here are a few things to avoid when using the platform.

1. LinkedIn is NOT Facebook or Twitter

You can use Twitter like Facebook or Instagram like Twitter. It’s not the best use of the platforms but you can get away with it. You can’t do that with LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as a networking platform. It’s where people go for professional-level communication. Although the status box says, “What’s on your mind,” don’t really post what’s on your mind unless it relates to your career.

2. Keep Your Statuses Positive

No political rants and please don’t tell everybody how bad your industry has become. Keep your posts specific and positive. Posting a link to an article that adds value to your industry is a great idea.

3. Don’t send messages that say, “I see you viewed my profile”

People stalk everybody on the Internet but they don’t tell them about it. Don’t send them a message and don’t try to connect with them right away either. If, in the future, you can find a meaningful reason, then maybe, but let’s face it, it’s kind of creepy to say, “I noticed you viewed my profile.”

4. Use a Professional Photo

You don’t have to hire a photographer and get portraits made. That’s so five years ago, but do post a picture that casts you as a well-groomed, well-dressed professional. Or bypass all of that and just include a headshot.

Have somebody take a picture using their newer smartphone. Use a photo editing app to crop it to 200 x 200.

5. Don’t Lie (or even exaggerate)

Learn from other peoples’ mistakes including ex-Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson. Don’t pad your resume. If you didn’t do it, don’t post it. If you kind of did it but exaggerated to make it sound better, don’t do it. Somebody will eventually find out. When they do, your career in that industry will essentially be over.

6. It’s Not Just About Job Hunting

Don’t use the platform only for job hunting. Use it to connect with other people. LinkedIn is great for networking but don’t go about it that way. Meet new people, learn from them, give them the opportunity to learn from you, and don’t ask for something in return.

In the future, when you are job hunting or looking for new clients or customers, those authentic relationships you formed may come in handy.

RELATED: How to Create a Social Media Policy for Your Business

7. Don’t Connect and Immediately Sell

Remember, relationship first. People don’t want to know your latest offer on your website or in your business as soon as they connect with you. In fact, they probably never want a sales pitch. Establishing yourself as an expert will lead to sales.

8. Complete Your Profile

If you don’t complete your profile, you’re telling people that you’re not serious about LinkedIn. If they connect with you they may get a response sometime in the future and your information may or may not be up to date.

Think of LinkedIn like you would your business. Everything you do or don’t do communicates a message.

9. Using Giant Words to Describe Simple Jobs

Remember the old-school resume trick of using big, important-sounding words to describe a relatively simple job or duty? Nobody falls for that. Be real. Everybody has a boring desk job on their resume. It’s part of climbing the career ladder. What matters is that you were promoted.

10. Not Being Active

True of all social media, activity creates legitimacy. If you’re on Twitter but never tweet, you probably aren’t getting any value out of the platform. If you aren’t actively engaging with others, LinkedIn will never be the valuable resource you were hoping for.

11. Spamming Groups

If you’re a part of any LinkedIn groups, you know about this first-hand. Groups should be where like-minded people get together to exchange ideas and information. Some people use them to post spammy links to their website. Those people aren’t taken seriously and will rarely find meaningful connections.

There’s nothing wrong with posting links but they should add value.

RELATED: How to Run Your Business and Still Have Time for Social Media 

12. Not Including Important Links in your Profile

You can be a little self-serving in your profile. If you have a blog, (that is regularly updated) post the link. People are there to learn about you. It’s ok to talk about yourself.

13. Not Including Personal Information

LinkedIn gives you places in your profile to include information like volunteer work and causes you believe in. People and businesses like to work with other socially-minded people. Take time to complete that section.

Of course, be careful that you’re not too political and that you avoid controversy. Many a politician has been brought down by working with a non-profit that had ties to something it shouldn’t have.

14. Not Responding to Mail

If you use the platform correctly, you will probably get mail and connect requests from others. Respond right away and try not to pre-judge. Somebody that doesn’t look like they would add value may be your next big client. Respond immediately just like you would if they contacted your business.

15. Trying to be on All Social Media

Social media is too big and vast to have a presence on every platform. Don’t see LinkedIn as a requirement. No social media platform takes the place of good old-fashioned networking. Talking to people face to face, having lunch, playing golf, or attending conferences still works.

Bottom Line

Technology is neither good nor bad. How you use it is what matters. In the case of LinkedIn, if you use it to create true, authentic relationships, you will find value. If you use it as free advertising space, you’ll likely be disappointed with the results.

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