According to LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/111663/what-is-linkedin-and-how-can-i-use-it-?lang=en), its purpose is to “be the world’s largest professional network on the internet. You can use LinkedIn to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships, and learn the skills you need to succeed in your career”. Other than requiring you to complete a profile, there is little formal guidance on what you should avoid. As a result, norms become established and common sense should prevail. Here are the top 5 things that you should not do:
1. Send an Invitation to someone you do not know, without a message for the rational. This can be described as the lazy LinkedIn user who simply hits the connect button hoping for an acceptance. Remember this platform is about networking, consider the perspective of the person to whom you are making a request. For example, when connecting you could add a message such as the following:
- I noticed we are in the same industry thereby we may be of mutual assistance to one another….
- I noticed we share a common interest. Together we may be able to advance this cause….
- John Smith, a shared connection, suggested we connect because…
- I’m interested in learning more about your employer because I recently read an article that said your organization is on the top places to work list. I would like to learn about the culture.
- I’m interested in hearing about your current role as <insert title>. I aspire to have that title and am interested in next steps I should take.
- I saw you speak at a recent webinar and the point you made about ‘xyz’ was a good one because…..
2. Have your profile photo consist of you pictured with someone else…such as a spouse or child. This is a professional networking site. As such, be sure to project a professional image of yourself; the person who other subscribers will want to interface with. This is not Facebook where personal information is expected and welcomed. Utilize a professional picture by yourself. Of course, if you are in a creative industry, your photo can be reflective of that creativity.
3. Portray incomplete information about what you do professionally. Since this is a professional networking site, visitors that land on your profile desire to know what you do. If you only have a title with no description of your role, this will leave the visitor with a lack of understanding for what you do.
4. Refuse to make low risk introductions. Profile owners come to this website to network. Therefore, you should expect, from time to time, someone will ask for an introduction to someone in your network. Be smart in evaluating whether you should or should not do it. If you don’t feel you know the person well enough to make an introduction, question whether you should connect on this networking platform.
5. Ignore direct messages to you. This is rude. Though this is a social media platform, it isn’t any different from if someone calls or emails you expecting a response. A mentor once told me, always return phone calls. The premise is the same on this platform. Return messages that require a response.
If you are new to LinkedIn and unsure about how to maneuver or are challenged in making a decision, ask an avid user or check the help section within LinkedIn. I presume you desire to be viewed positively so, make sure your actions and reactions will garner this result.
And remember when in doubt, use common sense. It will not fail you.