With four million users in Australia alone, LinkedIn is great for making connections and raising your profile in your industry. But how do you put your best foot forward and avoid tactical blunders?
1. Introduce yourself properly
My pet hate on LinkedIn is receiving invitations to connect from people I don’t know, who also don’t introduce themselves in that first contact. Sending the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network” request without any introduction or context is the equivalent to walking up to someone at a networking function, thrusting a business card into their hand and walking off. It’s rude and unlikely to get you the results you’re looking for.
It isn’t just about self-promotion. Give something back to your network by sharing links to interesting articles and contributing on discussion forums. The idea is to share knowledge and add to the pool. But contribute mindfully; I’ve removed connections in the past for posting multiple daily updates and hijacking my newsfeed. That’s not contributing, that’s annoying.
3. It’s not a numbers game
I’ll only connect with people I actually know. It’s not just my take; it’s LinkedIn’s philosophy. That first connection could have come in person or online but I don’t see much value in collecting connections for the sake of it. It dilutes your network and the value you get from it. Remember, your connections reflect on your professional reputation. Keep it a little exclusive.
4. Give recommendations
It’s great to give and receive personal recommendations so feel free to share the love, but be selective in who you vouch for. Your recommendations reflect on you. Also remember that the key social media rule for business still applies: be authentic. If you don’t want to give a recommendation be honest with that person as to why, don’t just ignore them. Just like in real life.
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5. Show your face
There’s something a bit disconcerting about the anonymous profile icon. You don’t need a professional picture, just a clear, decent-quality one that shows people who you are. This is especially important if you have a popular name. It’s difficult for people to confirm you are the person they are looking for and you could miss out on an opportunity because of that. On the same note, make sure that your photo actually looks like you. Keeping a profile picture that is 10 years old will do wonders for the ego… until you meet in person and they don’t recognise you!
6. Don’t be anonymous
LinkedIn may be a professional social networking site but it’s still social. Don’t protect your profile so that others see you as anonymous when you check out their profile. It’s not polite to lurk.
7. Protect your network
What does protecting your network actually mean? The jury is out on this LinkedIn etiquette point. This is a networking site so the point is to share and be social and for many that means having their contacts visible to their other connections. Others argue that their connections are private and even commercially sensitive, and hide them for that reason.
My take is that because I connect with people I know I also trust them not to make unsolicited approaches to others in my network. I’m happy to be approached for an introduction and have also asked for introductions myself; however, I would never reach out to a second-degree connection without running it by the person we have in common. It’s not good manners.
Do you play by these etiquette rules on LinkedIn?