LinkedIn Etiquette: DOs and DONTs

LinkedIn Etiquette: DOs and DONTs

By Marc Reifenrath on March 22, 2013 in Digital Marketing

By now, having a LinkedIn profile is a must for most business professionals (and some have Company Pages as well) . Whether you've had your profile for a long time or are brand new to LinkedIn, like most, you've probably gone through the following stages:

  1. Create your profile
  2. Look through other profiles
  3. Update it with all the finer details to make it look great
  4. Try to find as many contacts as you can
  5. Connect with them
  6. Attempt to find some more
  7. Wait for some sort of a response
  8. Repeat...

At some point you need to ask yourself, what is the true benefit of being on LinkedIn?...and you know what? That is a great question. More often than not, users think the answer is "because everyone else is". While this is true to an extent, there's much more to it. Every action taken by you and your business should really answer:

How does it ultimately impact the bottom line?
Do your efforts generate leads that turn into sales?
What value are you providing?

LinkedIn is a great platform to highlight your professional self, build your brand, and engage with others. Problem is, many users are still unsure how to really "use it", let alone setup an account.

So with that, here are some quick DOs and DONTs in regards to LinkedIn etiquette:

Do: Connect with real individuals you have business relationships with.

Don't: Connect with people you've never met and haven't built somewhat of an offline relationship with.

While it may be enticing to get your name out there, don't be that guy/gal who scans the page of "People you may know" and sends invites to ALL of them. Not only does it make you look bad (and potentially desperate), but more often than not it's viewed in the same regard as email spam to the recipient.

Do: Endorse the skills or expertise of those that you truly believe in.

Don't: Endorse others and give false recommendations that stretch the truth.

Endorsing others says, "I'm putting my name on the line, and acknowledge this person's skills and expertise", but in an indirect way it also says, "Will you endorse me?". Asking for and receiving endorsements from your connections is a great way to build your brand, show your strengths and engage your network.

Do: Send custom messages when requesting a connection or recommendation.

Don't: Send a blanket request, especially without personalization.

You're putting your name on the line when you endorse others, and they are putting their name on the line when they endorse you. Adding a custom message is much like drafting a hand written letter, it shows you care because you're taking the time to do so.

Do: Upload a professional profile picture.

Don't: Upload a laid back, "Facebook" style photo as your profile picture.

As the name implies, LinkedIn is the "World's Largest Professional Network" (note the word "Professional") That means no photos of you in a Hawaiian shirt, with a group of people, making a kissie-face. That also means no funny avatar images or photos of your favorite celebrity. It's your profile, use your own professional photo.

Do: Share relevant information associated with your business or line of work that is beneficial to others.

Don't: Share personal thoughts and opinions, especially those that are highly controversial.

LinkedIn users follows businesses or brands for a specific reason. Build yourself as an expert in your field by providing relevant information. Save your highly opinionated posts and comic relief for Twitter or Facebook. Remember, building trust ultimately leads to sales.

Do: Keep your profile and job experience up to date.

Don't: Keep an old job set as your active line of work after you've left.

It's simple, if you switch jobs then update your profile (and do it quickly). While you may have moved on for various reasons, keeping a job you no longer have might appear odd to both your peers and your former employer alike.

In the end what's most important is that you portray yourself in a positive light by stating the facts and acting as a professional. A profile with accurate details and a photo with a smile goes a long way to begin virtual handshakes on the "World's Largest Professional Network".

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