Before I dive into sharing the 3 worst things you can do on LinkedIn, please allow me to introduce myself (if you are new to Think Bespoke’s community). My name is Karen Hollenbach and I help individuals and organisations unlock LinkedIn for their professional goals.
It was during a webinar recently on the topic ‘Introduction to LinkedIn for Business’, that I was asked what are the most common mistakes I see made on LinkedIn. Interestingly, I’m not often asked a question like this. As a front footed and positive person, I tend to focus on what people are doing right, and then help steer them in the direction they need to go to improve their presence on LinkedIn.
As I have given it more thought, I decided it was worth dedicating some time to sharing my perspective on the 3 worst things you can do on LinkedIn. Again, I’d like to remind you that we all have different goals for LinkedIn and there are some distinctly different approaches you can choose to take to LinkedIn. The approach you’ve chosen to adopt on LinkedIn may be deliberate or due to a lack of understanding of the immense power of LinkedIn. With my approach, I suggest you be strategic, considered and treat your connections like gold. In my world, being salesy is sleazy.
So here they are . . . in my humble opinion . . . the 3 worst things you can do on LinkedIn.
No LinkedIn Profile Photo
There are ‘degrees of worst’ here, starting with no LinkedIn profile photo and then poor choices of profile photos. If you view LinkedIn as a professional networking platform (which is one of the key ways it can serve your professional goals), and you understand that LinkedIn is like a virtual business meeting room or networking event, then you will start to appreciate why no profile photo or a bad LinkedIn photo is such a missed opportunity. Having no LinkedIn Profile photo is like wearing a brown paper bag over your head. Having a bad LinkedIn profile photo is like wearing your active wear to a cocktail party.
And if you’re the kind of person that likes the numbers, statistics from LinkedIn show that simply having a profile photo results in up to 21x more profile views and 9x more connection requests.
Please visit my collection of LinkedIn headshot photos over at Pinterest here if you’d like some ideas for profile photos.
Treating LinkedIn Like Tinder for Business
There are two aspects to this. The first is the most obvious. Yes, some people do try to use LinkedIn to get a date.
Here’s an email a colleague received recently from a LinkedIn connection she had accepted from a LinkedIn member going by the name of Dean.
How are you doing today? I was actually searching for an acquaintance when I came across your profile. I must confess you are pretty and this is me being honest and not just mere flattery .I hope no offence is taken, I understand this is a business networking medium and not a dating or social networking website and I don’t intend to use it for one.
You caught my eye, I am interested in communicating more and sharing more about me with you and hope to learn more about you too that is if you are single and interested in communicating further. I do believe everything is possible if we put our mind and heart together just like i believe that good things can be found in the least places. I hope to hear from you soon. Till then stay blessed.
The second aspect is the transactional nature some people take on LinkedIn. This is particularly noticeable when some people invite you to connect on LinkedIn. I will accept your invitation if you meet my criteria (photo, real person and operate in a country I transact with).
However, being open to connecting with people I do not know does not give you permission to email me and try to sell me something. It is also not an invitation to send me a well crafted message suggesting I might like to read an article you have written (another version of you trying to sell me something). And I do not recommend you endorse some of my skills. And if you subscribe me to your email newsletter . . . our potential business relationship is well and truly in trouble.
I explore this in greater detail in this LinkedIn article – 4 Ways to Avoid being Sleazy on LinkedIn.
Ignoring Invitations to Connect from LinkedIn Members
People tend to ignore invitations because they may not spend much time on LinkedIn, don’t have the App on their phone or tablet or they won’t connect with people they do not know.
If you view LinkedIn like a virtual networking room, ignoring an invitation to connect is like ignoring someone when they introduce themselves. I suggest you put some thought into who you accept invitations to connect from. LinkedIn rewards ‘good behaviour’. The number of connections you have on LinkedIn is one of the measures LinkedIn uses to decide where it will rank you in searches when potential clients who’ve you’ve been recommended to type in your name on LinkedIn, long lost colleagues type in your name or recruiters run searches on LinkedIn for your skill sets and location. The more connections you have, the more likely it is that your name will come up in a search.
There’s also the idea that everyone you know knows at least 300 other people, and so even though you might think ‘why would I connect with that person?’ if they are no longer in your industry or have moved overseas, I think that’s a short sighted view of how opportunities can arise. People do business and employ people they know, like and trust. How to leverage this idea on LinkedIn is when potential clients or employers are viewing your profile and see people they know who may have liked or commented on your profile or be connected to you. This provides the opportunity for them to ask their connections about you. Think ‘6 degrees of separation’. I am sure you have experienced this in your life. It is important to note that whether people can see your connections or not will depend on your settings and whether you are already connected to them.
I have a criteria for accepting connections I do not know. They need to transact in a country I work with, have a headshot photo and look legitimate. I can soon tell who’s trying to sell to me, and one of my follow up rituals each week is to send a return email to new connections with a message that enables me to work out their intentions. In many cases the connections are genuine and often also warm leads or genuine questions, so do not overlook the benefit of accepting invitations from people you do not know on LinkedIn. In a very small number of cases I am added to email lists, which I unsubscribe from. It’s also easy to disconnect a new connection if they are not the right fit.
If you are taking a fresh look at LinkedIn, it’s my hope you now better understand some of the common mistakes you can avoid.