In my first blog post, I told you what a fan I was of LinkedIn. For professionals who depend on finding even the most minute connections and enterprising upon those connections–job seekers, PR professionals, fundraising guys and gals–LinkedIn is ideal.
However, I’ve found that the majority of users of LinkedIn are amateur users. So, if you’ve signed up for LinkedIn and are now wondering what to do next, I implore you to keep in mind these 5 tips:
1) Get a professional headshot
If you are old enough to use LinkedIn, you are old enough to invest in a professional headshot. I am so surprised by how many “professionals” touting so much work and life experience upload a quick selfie of themselves posed at their desk. This is your RESUME. Would you attach that same photo if you were mailing out a resume to a potential employer? Refer to this when considering a photo for LinkedIn: LinkedIn Profile Pictures Gone Wrong.
2) Do not link your company’s Twitter account to your personal LinkedIn account.
LinkedIn gives you all kinds of options to add links. Of those, the Twitter link is the one most often misused. Your connections are your personal business connections. Your announcements need to cater to their interests. So, if you work at a college and you’re linking your college’s Twitter account to your personal LinkedIn profile, your contacts (from companies past and present) are hearing about free ice cream in the quad, parking lot issues, campus crime, etc. Unless your contacts are all students, THEY DON’T CARE about these tweets. If you must link a Twitter account, link your personal Twitter account where you post personal achievements that potential references and employers will want to hear about. Or, just simply log into LinkedIn and post a direct update as necessary.
3) Add as many contacts as possible, but make sure they are legit contacts.
Whenever I get a connection request on LinkedIn, I ask myself “Do I know this person well enough to feel comfortable introducing them, or even referring them, to one of my contacts?” If the answer is no, I do not add them. Your contact list can be filled with colleagues from past and present positions, connections you’ve met while conducting business, friends, classmates, etc. It’s nice to have a large number of connections–but remember, these connections are not really for your use, they are for the use of others. It’s quite possible that you will be asked to virtually introduce one contact to another, so be comfortable with your contacts and don’t add people you don’t really know. Conversely, don’t be one of those LinkedIn users that sends out connection requests to everyone you meet at a mixer, conference, casually on the street, or to those you “hope to do business with someday.” That’s a big no no. I get dozens after I attend business meetings and rarely do I accept. Nothing personal, I just don’t know you well enough.
4) If you don’t have any/enough contacts, you are of no use to me.
You and I may be good friends, but in the world of LinkedIn, you are of little use to me if you have no contacts of your own. LinkedIn is a two-way-street: I give you access to my contact list for access to yours. So, make sure you’re consistently updating and adding contacts (legit contacts) so that I can make use of them in the future. My husband and I aren’t even connected on LinkedIn and, until his profile and contact list is robust, it will stay that way.
5) Don’t use LinkedIn to do your cold calling.
Every so often, I get a random connection request from someone who has also sent me an e-mail solicitation at my company e-mail address. This is sometimes followed by a direct message via the LinkedIn message tool, or even to my personal e-mail address associated with my LinkedIn account. Ugh. I hate this and will delete, delete, delete each time. If you are one of these, I understand you are trying to make a sale, but you are going about it the wrong way. Alternatively, use LinkedIn groups to find groups of people who are within your target audience, join those groups or ask group organizers if there are any opportunities for promotional or even endorsed messages. Also, use the “search” function to seek out people you want to connect with through people you already know. Maybe you are ALREADY connected to me in some way (through a 2nd or 3rd degree connection) and can asked to be introduced to me via the LinkedIn Introduction tool, in which I would be much more likely to respond.
Final thought: Remember that your LinkedIn profile is all about you specifically, not your company (past or present)—use LinkedIn to market yourself for the benefit of your current projects and current company.
My LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/pub/michelle-sutliff-ma/5/97b/8b4/