LETIQUETTE – LINKEDIN ETIQUETTE
In recent times there has been a bit of a change filtering into LinkedIn and in my opinion it’s not all been for the better. From my observations it’s change being driven by users, due to a poor understanding of what LinkedIn is for and how to use it well. As a Social Media professional educator, I constantly come across clients and associates who create profiles on every different platform because they believe that is a good strategy. Sometimes it is, provided there is a strategy and plan behind it.
Where it goes pear-shaped is when we start taking rules and behaviours from one platform to another and there is a mismatch between audience and purpose.
Professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn have rules for a reason. The rules are not there to restrict – it’s about targeting. When I’m discussing LinkedIn with clients and associates, I keep hearing so many stories about “spammy” emails and requests to connect from very disconnected sources, so it inspired me to do the following post, to help you get more out of LinkedIn and leverage it’s power for your profile and business.
LinkedIn’s own mission statement is: “…to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”
I hope this post helps you to understand how to use and engage with your connections to help make your experience a positive and successful one.
1. NO PROFILE PIC (who are you?)
Think of your presence on LinkedIn just as you would when attending a physical professional networking event. You don’t walk into a room with a bag over your head do you? For best results, have a clear professional and current headshot on your profile. Ensure that your eyes are showing because we connect far more readily with people when we can look into their eyes. Your photograph (or lack thereof) is one of the first things people will look at.
2. NO SPAM PLEASE
Just because someone has connected with you on LinkedIn this is not an invitation to be placed on your mailing list. Nothing can be worse for your reputation than being known as a spammer. Anti spamming rules apply and if you wish to add someone to your newsletter, then email them asking them and make sure there is an opt out option. This is important for you to understand because if enough people mark your emails as “spam” then LinkedIn just might shut your profile down.
BEWARE THE THIRD PARTY APP: There are several products on the market which purport to build your networks and help your to build your brand and be found online. Unfortunately many of these programs make it very easy for you to send out invites and requests to your entire list. Some of these are referral key Etagged.me Erated.me Make sure you do your research before accepting such invitations – they may do more damage than good.
If you only request connections using the standard connect form and don’t complete it, you are sending a blank invitation. LinkedIn provides an option to add a message with a request to connect. Please USE it. LinkedIn is about QUALITY over quantity. If you wish to build relevant relationships, which can help you to leverage opportunities, then it is worth taking the time to customize the message.This is even more important when reaching out to someone you have actually never met or engaged with. Let them know why you would like to connect. Tell them you enjoyed their article or the talk they gave. Remind them that you were at the conference or that you share similar interests or thoughts on a subject they are passionate about.If you actually don’t know the person, have no connections or their email address, then ask a mutual connection for an introduction. Some try and get around this by linking to a business the connection is part of. This does nothing for your reputation and could be just AWKWARD! Connecting with someone by saying you have worked with him or her at your business, or their business and you never have just to make the connection is a poor strategy! Come on – imagine being at a physical network event and someone says to you “oh I just met Bill over there, he says you used to work for him”, and you’ve never met the guy? If you wouldn’t do it in real life, don’t do it online. Worst still if you run into this person in the future your reputation will already be damaged!By the way..
4. IT’S NOT A DATING SERVICE
Linked in is NOT a dating service! It is inappropriate to use it as such. There are plenty of websites and platforms designed for that service. If you do happen to connect with someone and at some point it leads to a relationship that is lovely, but don’t send inappropriate connection messages – it doesn’t build your reputation and you just might get marked as spam and end up without a profile.
5. NO SELFIES OR CUPCAKES
LinkedIn is NOT Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or any of the other social networks. Whilst Facebook is primarily a social network, one which also has fantastic opportunities for businesses to connect and develop customer/client relationships (B2C, C2C and B2B), LinkedIn really works best as a professional networking platform. Here you can build and develop your profile, seek new connections and new opportunities, build or change your career and find partners and joint venture opportunities.It’s been said that “you wouldn’t wear flipflops to a job interview so don’t kick your shoes off on LinkedIn” and I think that is a great analogy. LinkedIn’s roots were in the recruitment industry – linking people and jobs, but over time they recognized the potential to help business to grow and to find connections way beyond the capabilities of a job board. LinkedIn has deliberately been created in a more formal and professional way and many professionals who would shy away from the other social networks will happily add opinion and share information within the constraints of the LinkedIn environment.
That said, the power of visual marketing means you can share powerful content, just ensure it is relevant. Using great images in your blogs is still a great strategy. Cupcakes are fine if that’s your business, but not if it’s your afternoon tea!
6. BE TRUTHFUL
This is the most important one of all. There is no benefit to lying or exaggerating on your profile. Your online profile is a snapshot of your resume and subject to scrutiny. Don’t risk your reputation.Highlight your achievements, your contributions to the world, but be transparent. Don’t take personal credit for a team effort and don’t reinvent your titles. Just be honest. This is especially true for those just starting their careers, it can be tempting to “gloss it up”. Please don’t. You can still be creative, especially if that suits your industry, but just keep it real. For example if you managed a business, use your title; don’t say you were the CEO (unless you were of course!). If you contributed to an article or book, say you were a contributing author, not the “author”. A little honesty goes a long long way.
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