I was at a speaking engagement about creating our personal brands and asked the participants how many had a Linked In profile. About 50% raised their hands. I asked how many felt really good about their LinkedIn profile. About 3 people kept their hand up. If you’re in business, the people you want to connect with are checking you out on LinkedIn. Here are the ten biggest mistakes many of us make on LinkedIn. Do any of these apply to you?
Ten Biggest Mistakes on LinkedIn
I sat down with social media strategist and LinkedIn expert Diane Crompton to understand what are the biggest mistakes she has seen people make. Use this as a check-list to make sure you’re leveraging Linked In like a pro.
Assume LinkedIn is only for job seekers – People assume “if I’m not currently searching for a job, I don’t need to have a LinkedIn profile”. I often meet leaders who find themselves out of a job and they scramble to create a Linked in profile and create a network. It takes a few months to do this. Some are concerned their colleagues will think they’re looking for a job. There are lots of reasons to be on Linked In other than for a job search (see below).
Be Unclear about your LinkedIn goals – Get clear about your goals on LinkedIn. They should frame the amount of time and effort you put into LinkedIn. A strong LinkedIn profile can help you in lots of ways: recruit members for your team by letting your network know you’re looking for talent, connect others and build your influence as a connector, build your professional brand by sharing relevant articles, keep up with people in your professional network and build it. Start with the end in mind!
Have an amateur photo – A picture speaks a thousand words. Your photo should not be from ten years ago, one you put on your Match.com profile, or something a prospective employer will look at and immediately want to check out your FBI record. What do you want your picture to convey about you to your professional network?
Be unclear in your message – Your LinkedIn summary should be clear about what you stand for. What’s your personal brand? How do you stand out and create value for others? How would you like to be known? What’s the sense of leadership purpose that drives you? These are the key questions your profile should answer. I recommend my executive coaching clients take several assessments including the Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Standout. They are helpful in articulating your personal brand. Be sure to share your accomplishments & results rather than just your job description.
Be Impersonal – My recommendation is to write your profile in first person. It makes you more friendly and approachable (unless you belong to the mafia and want to make sure you’re not appearing friendly and approachable). Here’s President Obama’s profile. Even the President is friendly and approachable. Let them see the real person behind the profile. Here’s Bill Gates’ profile. It shares his interests: “Voracious reader, avid traveler”. It should pass the “if I were stuck in an elevator with this person, would I survive that?” test.
Be hesitant about recommendations – A lot of us have mindsets that prevent us from asking for recommendations and favors. Think of it this way. If you have trouble tooting your own horn (and we do know that it’s important for others to know how you add value), let someone else toot your horn for you. If someone has done a great job, be generous in giving out recommendations too. It’s positive LinkedIn karma.
Ignore keywords – If we want to be found on LinkedIn we need to use the right keywords in our Headline, Summary, Skills and Expertise, and Professional Experience. Recruiters are now exclusively doing their searches on LinkedIn. If you have a business and want to be found by potential customers, make sure you use the right keywords for your expertise or business.
Sell first – Many people make the mistake of connecting to sell immediately. In my opinion that doesn’t work. If I don’t really know you, why would I buy from you? What’s in it for me? Instead my recommendation is to adopt a “slow burn” approach by building rapport, helping others first, and consistently sharing good content. The huge benefit of online channels is access. I’ve connected with people on LinkedIn where we have common interests and we have built these into mutually productive connections offline.
Send invites to people you don’t know – We all get invites from people we haven’t met and don’t know. LinkedIn discourages that but it happens. If you do send an invite to someone you don’t know, be courteous and let them know why you’d like to connect with them. Explain what’s in it for them or areas of common interest. At the least feed their ego: “I’m a big fan of your work, Mr. Gates!”
Forget to make updates – Keep your profile updated. Our professional brand changes and our objectives may change over time as well.
For more than just the basics on Linked In, check out Diane Crompton’s site. She’s your friendly neighborhood social media strategist who helped me with the do’s and don’ts on Linked In and can help you take your Linked In profile to the next level.
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