We all know that LinkedIn is an enormously powerful business tool and has now matured away from its “online CV” origins but are there any obvious bear-traps the hapless user can fall into?
Yes there are and here’s 12 of the most likely.
1) Don’t only talk about your company on your profile
I’m going to be brutal with you… no one cares about your company. If I wanted to know about your company then I would go to your company page. On your profile page I want to read about you, sure a little bit about your company is acceptable, but I’m talking about a single line here; ‘A top 10 law firm specialising in large corporates’. I want to know why I should choose YOU over the hundreds of other people who do the same job. Remember people buy from people, not companies.
2) Don’t be out of date
Don’t have awards on there that you won in 1999 or quotes from customers that you had in 2001. If that is all you have then I am going to wonder why you haven’t had any quotes or awards since then, has your service slipped? Did you become complacent and stop trying? These are not questions that you want your prospective clients to be asking.
3) Don’t use the common ‘buzzwords’
It’s the same as a CV. No one wants to hear that you are a dedicated and trustworthy team player. It may be true but these words have lost all sense of meaning. Use words that are unique to the point that you are getting across. If you are in employment law then talk about how conscientious you are about keeping up to date with the constant law changes, or how you have built your reputation on getting to know your clients culture so you can act accordingly. Yes it means the same thing but it differentiates you from the crowd.
4) Don’t send out the LinkedIn text
Never, and I mean NEVER, send out the text that LinkedIn automatically gives you, whether it be for an invitation to connect or a request for a Recommendation, people know this text and will not respond warmly to you. Instead if it is an invitation to connect write about where you met each other, or how you help to be useful. If you are asking for a recommendation then I would advise you ask them for it in person and then use the invitation on LinkedIn as a guidance tool. Mention the work that you want to be recommended for and mention the topics you would like to be recommended for e.g. ‘As mentioned at lunch today would you recommend me for the work I did for you in February. If possible could you mention how I saved you money and was able to answer any and all questions you had quickly and effectively?’. People will be grateful for the guidance.
5) Don’t automatically recommend those who recommend you
This used to be the etiquette on LinkedIn, but times have changed. Now it devalues any recommendations you may have and makes them look contrived. Only offer recommendations to people you generally feel deserve it, remember you are putting your name and reputation on the line.
6) Don’t have spelling mistakes
It’s exactly the same as in a CV or in a tender, spelling mistakes are like a plague to any potential business, it will stop it dead. If you have problems with spelling (like me – Dyslexia runs in the family) then write everything in word first and then get someone else like a friend or colleague to read over it for you. Better safe than sorry.
7) Don’t accept competitors
Don’t accept invitations to connect from competitors, odds are they just want to scour your connections and rob them.
8) Don’t have a casual picture
I have seen people use photos of themselves on sunbeds whilst on holiday, in a rubber ring in a pool and even one of a statue! Your photo should be a corporate headshot of you in business attire. People want to see your beautiful faces!
9) Don’t have empty sections on your profile
Please don’t leave your summary blank, or fill in your work history for your current role but leave the others blank. This shows laziness and lack of pride in your work. Think of your LinkedIn page as your own personal website; fill it with as much information as humanly possible!
10) Don’t join groups and immediately start selling yourself
If you are in any groups you will know that nothing is more annoying than someone joining and immediately talking about themselves or their company or blathering on about all the offers that they currently have running. People will immediately turn off and you may even find yourself reported to the group manager.
11) Don’t join groups your competitors are in
Why would you want to surround yourself with your competitors? Why, if you are a construction lawyer would you join a construction lawyers group? Instead join a group where your potential clients are, join construction professional groups.
12) Don’t have too many Skills and Expertise
Yes its exciting when you realise that someone has endorsed you for a skill, but if you have too many that aren’t your focus you can end up looking like a Jack of all Trades. Focus on between 3-10 skills that you wish to be known for.
You can download a PDF version of this article here.