LinkedIn is your professional presence. It’s your online business card. It’s a virtual networking event that never shuts down. Yes! You’re invited. And yes! You should participate.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any LinkedIn no-nos.
Whether you’re a new user, occasional user, or nonstop user, somewhere along the line you may have developed some habits that aren’t serving you well.
Should I or shouldn’t I?
If this is a question you’re wrestling with regarding a particular post, photo, comment, or interaction, the answer is no. You shouldn’t. Trust your instincts here. If you’re not 100% confident that your activity is enhancing your professional brand, come up with a version of it that is.
Does that mean you should never disagree with someone? Absolutely not. But treat that disagreement as you would if you were in a Board of Directors meeting. Do your homework, construct your argument, and be thoughtful with the way you articulate your points. Realize that there may be people who disagree with you and be willing to hear them out. Assuming they’ve done the same, that is.
LinkedIn is not the place for inappropriate comments and behavior. It IS the place for putting your best foot forward. But many of us are unknowingly tripping ourselves up.
Here are some common habits that need to go.
No profile photo
Nothing like connecting with a ghost-person, hey? Would you go to a party with a ski mask on? Then don’t come to a networking event without being willing to show your face.
If you’ve got serious issues with photos of yourself online, at least drop a company logo in to fill the empty space. We’ll forgive you pretty quickly if you’re posting great stuff.
Wrong profile photo
This used to be a really common mistake, but these days most users are up to speed with nice, professional photos. That said, if you have any of the following elements in your profile photo, it’s time for a change:
Spouse, kids, pets, or other people – Nope. This time, it should be all about you.
Cocktail dress, ball gown, or tuxedo – Unless this is your normal business attire, of course. But it’s not, is it? You just cropped your wedding photo.
Blurred lines – It’s more than just a catchy song. It’s also a low quality photo. Find a better one.
Full length pics – Headshots only, please. Unless you’re a leg model, we don’t need to see ‘em.
A much earlier version of you – Yes, it’s tempting! But your connections should actually be able to recognize you when they see you at that conference.
Your car – Do you drive for a living? Okay, then. You’re forgiven. Everyone else? Nope.
About that car…
We get it. Stuffy offices are so yesterday! But do you work out of your car? Or could you simply not think of any other place to snap that photo or make that video?
Honestly, the car thing is just plain confusing. If you have theories or explanations for why this should pass for appropriate business behavior on LinkedIn, we want to hear it. Really! We do! Because maybe we’re just clinging to the old days. You know, when cars were for driving.
Yes, there are some best practices around creative job titles. But if you headline reads “Experienced and Passionate Unicorn Sprinkling Magical Talent Dust on all Things Business and Life,” you’re not really saying anything. Give us some real information in there, please. We actually do want to know where you work and what you do.
They’re so cute! And fun! When you’re texting your BFF. But adding twelve tiny fireballs or explosions to your job title or personal summary section isn’t going to help you build credibility. To quote wise and frustrated parents everywhere, “Use your words, please.”
We’ve all clicked on that video where someone is fervently dishing out business advice at unreasonably high decibels. This is usually accompanied by wild hand gestures, a super intense gaze, and a fair amount of shouting. All in the name of inspiration.
Let’s face it. There’s only one Tony Robbins. And you’re probably not him.
There’s no need to pump up the volume to number 11. Let your words, actions, and hard-earned knowledge speak for you. If you have something valuable to say, we will hear you. Heck, we might even like, share, or say nice things.
Negativity with no purpose
LinkedIn is brimming full of posts and information. You can see just about anything you want to, and a lot of things you don’t. Maybe too many. But don’t bring the hate just because.
If you think someone’s post isn’t worth your time, don’t bother investing additional precious minutes into telling them so. Just scroll on by. Nothing to see here, folks. Just one of a gazillion posts that you have the option of not reading.
Also, did you forget why you created your LinkedIn account? To establish your professional presence. Remember that your posts and comments are visible to your employer, clients, prospects, colleagues, employees— and maybe even your mom. If you’re a big meanie online, it’s not going to up your standing with any of them. They may even begin to question your character, judgement, and integrity.
Instead of jumping around from post to post barking at everyone you disagree with, seek out those things you find valuable. Like them. Share them. Give them some love. Now that’s something mom can be proud of.
Yes, your profile (and your professional headshot) is all about you. But the information you share shouldn’t be.
There are so many ways to be interesting, engaging and educational besides just shouting, “Look at me! I’m a rock star!”
If you’re doing nothing but posting about yourself and your services, you’re going to get tuned out. Post useful information and interact in a way that is friendly and helpful. Once people have a chance to get to know you, they’ll be much more interested in working with you.
SPAM, SPAM, bacon, and SPAM
Are you using LinkedIn purely as a way to introduce people to your services? Are you connecting strictly to collect contacts and email addresses? Is the first thing you do after connecting to plug that new person into your marketing email list? Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.
Newsflash: We didn’t order that SPAM.
How about getting to know us over coffee first? Then maybe we’ll think about upgrading to the full meal deal.
The bottom line
Everyone is going to use LinkedIn a little bit differently, but there are definitely some best and worst practices. And if you’re really attached to your car, well, okay. It’s not the worst addiction a person could have.
Just remember these few things and you’ll be on your way to a positive LinkedIn presence.
- Be professional
- Be polite
- Be helpful
- Be considerate
- Be consistent
In other words, be that person your grandmother thinks you are.
Photo by Dean Drobot