LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for networking in business or finding a job, but it can also be disastrous if you don’t use it correctly. Not only could mistakes cost you potential business, but they could actually harm your reputation!
LinkedIn is great for finding clients or customers, making connections that could lead to investors or other essential business contacts, and of course finding a job.
But if you aren’t careful, you could do more harm to your reputation than good!
In this guide, you’re going to learn about some of the biggest mistakes people make when using LinkedIn to promote themselves, and how you can avoid making these mistakes yourself.
You’ll also learn some valuable tips for making the most out of your LinkedIn profile, and how to make more connections, set up your profile effectively, and get the results you’re looking for!
Mistake #1 – No Connections
If you think people are going to magically search for your profile and find you, then think again. More than likely, you’re never going to be found at all unless you put some work into making connections.
Not only should you make connections, but you need to make the right connections. If you’re looking for a job, find recruiters and HR managers in your field of work. If you’re looking for clients, make connections with people you believe would need your services.
LinkedIn isn’t just a place to toss up a résumé; it’s a social network. You need to have connections in order for it to be any real use to you at all.
To start making connections, first find a few people in your field and request to connect with them. These could be recruiters, employees, or any other similar type. Just be sure they’re in your field.
Next, look at their connections in order to find other people you can connect with. You can then personalize your request to connect by mentioning that you have a connection in common. This will help you form more connections. Eventually people will start requesting to connect with you.
Mistake #2 – No Profile Photo
A profile photo is a vital component of your profile, but many people seem to skip this element. While getting a job or making business connections isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) about appearances, having no profile picture is a big red flag to a lot of people.
You’re around seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a photo than if you don’t have one. It’s just like if you’re shopping online for something like an apartment or a car. If there’s no picture, you’re likely to believe something is wrong with it.
Not only that, but pictures help you remember people. Without a picture, you’ll just get lost in a sea of people. However, if you have a photo, people will start to recognize you by it and they will remember you.
Of course, having a terrible photo is worse than having no photo at all. Keep your photo professional and clear. Don’t use special effects. Don’t add a picture of you with an alcoholic drink in your hand. Don’t post a picture of you with your beloved pooch. Just a clear headshot is perfect.
Remember, this is a professional network, not Facebook. You need to put your best foot forward in order to make the most of your contacts.
Mistake #3 – Your Profile is Private
Your LinkedIn profile should always be public, even if you feel the need to remain somewhat anonymous. If you have to, you can omit certain personal identifying details. But you must make your profile public if you want to be effective on LinkedIn.
There are times when you might really need to be private, such as when you are actively seeking employment while already working elsewhere. You might want to keep your job search a secret from your current employer.
But unless you have a very good reason for having a private profile, you are best served by keeping your profile public.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn has a number of privacy settings that can help you control what people see on your profile. This way you can keep relevant information visible to everyone while still keeping certain information visible only to those you really want to see it.
Mistake #4 – Being Generic
In a sea of thousands, perhaps millions of people who are competing for exactly what you are hoping to achieve, you must stand out. You may want to make yourself look generic because you think if you’re too “over-the-top” it could scare people off, and that’s certainly possible. But it’s much more likely that originality will help you get whatever you’re after.
You need to make sure you fill your profile out completely and make it original without being cheesy or bizarre. Don’t call yourself something like “The Marketing Mage”, because that sounds silly. But you could think of creative ways to stand out without making yourself look strange.
Anything you’ve done that is different from your competition should be in your profile. For example, let’s say you’re seeking employment as a line cook and you once appeared in a popular TV cooking competition. That should be on your profile! Maybe you traveled to Italy for a month to learn how to make pasta from the masters. That should be on your profile!
If it’s interesting and it’s related to your field, it should be on your profile!
Mistake #5 – Making Too Many Notifications
When you make a change to your profile, your contacts will be notified on their news feed. This is done even after something as simple as correcting a typo.
As you might imagine, this could become incredibly frustrating to your contacts, because their feed will be clogged with all of these updates that may not even be important.
You can change it so that your connections aren’t notified by using the slider on the right side of your page. It looks like this:
Simply slide this to look like this:
Mistake #6 – Group Message Disasters
Group messages can be very useful, but they can be irritating to your contacts if you use them incorrectly.
Never send out a group message that is blatantly self-promoting, and never send out a message that wouldn’t be 100% relevant to nearly every one of your contacts.
Imagine your inbox suddenly being inundated with dozens of messages about something you have no interest in whatsoever. It would probably really bother you, and you’d likely take steps to keep this from happening. (Most notably removing that contact from your connections.)
Whenever you send out a group message, you must do two things. First, be sure you’re sending the message only to relevant industry connections. Second, be sure you uncheck the box that says, “Allow recipients to see each other’s names and email addresses”. The last thing people want is to have their names and email addresses sent to a bunch of random people they don’t know.
Be very careful with group messaging, and only use it when absolutely necessary.
Mistake #7 – Endorsing Connections Randomly
A lot of people seem to think that endorsing their connections will get their connections to later endorse them, however this is a huge mistake. Yes, it’s possible that you could get that person to promote you to their own connections because you’ve done them a favor but imagine if that person turns out to be a scammer.
Instead, only recommend people whose services you have used directly and whom you can truly personally recommend. Never sacrifice your own reputation to help boost someone else’s, because it can backfire on you faster than you can imagine!
If there’s someone whose recommendation you yourself would like, you could contact that person and offer to exchange services and once you have personally seen what they can do, the two of you can then exchange endorsements.
Never, ever endorse someone whose services you have not personally used.
The only exception would be if someone asks you if you know someone who can (insert skill here). In which case you could respond with something such as, “I do, but I haven’t personally used his services.” If the person is still interested, then you can pass on their contact information.
Mistake #8 – Blatant Self Promotion
Let’s face it; everyone on LinkedIn is there to promote something. That’s what the network was made for. But you have to be considerate of your contacts and add value at the same time. You can’t just promote yourself constantly and expect anyone to pay attention to you.
Instead of just constantly promoting yourself, you should focus on keeping yourself relevant to your contacts. Here are some ideas:
- Post helpful information for people in your industry.
- Post links to news related to your industry.
- Offer help to others when they ask.
- Keep up with current industry trends and share the information.
Occasional self-promotion is fine, but if you can think of creative ways to promote yourself while adding value, such as an “advertorial” style blog post, you can promote yourself without upsetting anyone. Not only that, but people are more likely to work with you if they don’t feel like you’re being overly pushy.
Mistake #9 – Ignoring the Summary
Just like the objective is an important section of a résumé, or at least it used to be, the summary is an important part of your LinkedIn profile. Sure, the objective may have gone out of fashion, but the summary is a vital component on LinkedIn.
Look at it this way. People are incredibly busy. They don’t have time to delve headfirst into every single profile and read word for word. They check the summary first to see if there might be a good fit for their purposes. If there is no summary, they may just move on without a second look.
Mistake #10 – Headline Horrors
The headline is the most important part of a sales page because it grabs attention immediately. The same is true for your headline on LinkedIn. You need to pay special attention to this section.
One major mistake people make with regards to their headline is to put something generic like their job title. Never use a headline such as “account manager” or “sales associate”. Do you realize how many other people are doing exactly that?
In order to really make the most of LinkedIn, you MUST stand out!
Of course, standing out does not mean being over the top just for the sake of grabbing attention. Don’t use anything too silly or outlandish, and definitely don’t use anything that could be controversial! This is a business network, and you must remain professional.
A good headline lets people know who you are and what you can do while also being engaging and interesting. Experiment with a few until you find one that really works for you.
LinkedIn is a great place to network, make important business contacts, and even find a job. But if you’re not using it correctly, it can actually end up harming your reputation.
As long as you’re careful and respectful, you shouldn’t have too many issues, but keep in mind that, above all, LinkedIn is a social network. That means you have to respect the same basic rules as any other social platform.
Remember these key elements:
- Make contacts, especially in your industry.
- Don’t spam your contacts, even accidentally. (Be careful!)
- Fill out your profile completely.
- Use a clean, professional photo.
- Use a clever headline.
- Only endorse those you really trust.
As long as you observe these elements, you’ll probably do just fine. Use common sense, and you’ll reach your goals quickly and easily, whatever those goals may be.