On a platform such as LinkedIn, first impressions can make or break you. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube where anything often goes, LinkedIn has higher standards of professionalism whether you are a company looking for business, a job seeker looking for employment or a recruiter looking for potential candidates.
Going below the set standards of LinkedIn can easily destroy your reputation, losing you existing contacts, prospective opportunities and a chance to leverage the massive networking opportunity offered by the platform.
The good news is that many of the common LinkedIn mistakes can be corrected quickly and I’m going to tell you how you can avoid or salvage your reputation.
Here are some of the most common ways to ruin your reputation and what you can do to avoid or remedy those mistakes:
Most users on LinkedIn will determine whether to connect with you based on the information right at the top of your profile. This information includes your name, headline or title, summary and your profile picture too.
Writing your name in lower case, all-upper case or using special characters raises a red flag to many, as does not including a good quality professional looking profile picture of yourself.
Your headline/title could be too vain or too vague; at the same time, many profiles lack any title at all. A title should be descriptive and precise enough to succinctly tell others who you are and what you do.
Many people also overlook the summary section. While the summary section may not necessarily cost you your reputation, it can cause you to miss out on opportunities as you will be less likely to be found by others. This section allows you to pitch yourself while including relevant keywords that will make you more findable.
Overall, leaving gaps in your profile, including overlooking the summary, could be a cause of concern for any serious recruiter or prospective business customer.
Nothing screams ‘unprofessional’ like grammatical and spelling mistakes in your LinkedIn profile. It shows that you are either a poor communicator or you are simply not patient enough to craft your profile into a presentable resume. Such mistakes will turn off recruiters, companies, influencers and other users who might otherwise want to connect with you. If you don’t have great English and are serious about how you want to be perceived, pay a professional copy writer to write your profile text. It will be worth every penny.
Something else that could put others off is a writing style that is too self-promotional and condescending. Nobody likes a “show-off”. No matter how significant your achievements are, do not rub it in the face of other users—they will only pass you up on opportunities.
Instead, describe your goals and achievements in simple language that authentically conveys your experience and qualifications.
It is tempting to want to make as many connections as possible and grow your network as fast as possible. But, unless you know so many people first-hand who are already on LinkedIn, you will have to build your 1st level connections before you can add 2nd and 3rd level connections into your network.
Sending invitations to connect to random people is a big deal breaker and may cause you to be suspended from LinkedIn if just 5 people click the ‘I Don’t Know button. To avoid this, connect to people you know and then these people will likely be able to connect you to others and so on as you progressively grow your network.
You have probably received the mundane “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” invitation to connect from people you know and others that may have been introduced to you. This default generic message probably did not make any significant impact on you and you may have reluctantly accepted the invitation.
You want to make an impact when inviting others to connect with you? Send them a personalized message instead of the default LinkedIn invitation.
Simply taking your time to craft a thoughtful, authentic and personalized message will give you a great start to your LinkedIn relationships based on mutual support and helpfulness.
Have you ever accepted a new connection on LinkedIn to then receive an “intro” message from them which is basically a sales pitch and a way to aggressively sell their products or services?
Or how about being tagged in a group message where the sender is telling you about a great opportunity they have which is going to make you a ton of money?
Or blatantly promotional status updates. The list goes on. The simple advice is to not do this. Ever.
It is against LinkedIn policies to blatantly sell products or services on the platform. While LinkedIn is excellent for making business connections, avoid using it as a marketplace unless you specifically pay for LinkedIn Ads.
Use the platform to form connections and conversations about what you do, and your business, products etc. will unfold naturally and on a one-to-one, private basis.
Broadcasting your products and services will only make you look desperate, unprofessional and sometimes fraudulent and will in fact lose you existing and prospective customers.
It is not enough to just create a profile on LinkedIn, whether you are a company or an individual user, it is important to develop a content plan. Such a plan allows you to establish thought leadership by regularly sharing relevant content.
Posting poor quality content that does not add value to your connections will quickly damage your reputation. Posting content that you would usually post on Facebook such as jokes, puzzles and funny videos will not work here and will damage your reputation.
Instead, take time to create valuable professional information and to share great content from other people.
Other than the top-of-the fold information, recommendations are the most important aspect of your LinkedIn profile.
A major red flag is having no recommendations at all or having generic recommendations that do not say anything about your specific experience or qualifications.
To get recommendations from the right people i.e. your clients, your colleagues, your boss or supervisor, you need to ask for them. Ideally, these people have worked with you closely and they know how to speak about your aptitudes and capabilities.
With over 300 million users, LinkedIn is certainly a goldmine for anyone looking for B2B opportunities. To get the most from the platform, it is important to treat it as a professional canvas upon which you can build your reputation, and grow your career and business locally and globally.