We all know about LinkedIn – THE social network for businesspeople. Rarely do I come across a client, prospect or vendor who is not on it. I am not a ‘power user’ (I still take advantage of a free account), but I am an active user – connecting often, posting frequently and participating in online conversations.
And as an active user, I see way too many mistakes made by way too many users – all of which happen simply because they are too lazy to take a few minutes to “do it right.” Here are the most egregious of the LinkedIn mistakes (in no particular order)…
- No photo or a lousy/inappropriate one. First of all, stats say that profiles with photos are 11X more likely to get viewed… so why wouldn’t you have one? And when you post a photo – it’s doesn’t have to be a professional portrait (though there’s nothing wrong with that) – a simple ‘head shot’ taken with an iPhone at the office is fine. Stop it already with the beach pictures, ‘glam’ shots or those you took at last night’s cocktail party. Be smart – these pictures will impact your livelihood.
- Not growing the number connections. While I am a BIG believer that LinkedIn is still a quality over quantity place… the more connections, the bigger the impact. And yet, I see lots of businesspeople – who I know have been on LinkedIn for years – with only 200 or 300 connections. Really?! Stop waiting for others to connect with you. Spend a few minutes once a week connecting with clients, prospects, vendors and others in the industry. On the flip side… you do not have to accept everyone who reaches out to you to connect. I honestly turn down as many as I accept.
- Not using a customized invitation. Here’s the default invitation message: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Pretty impersonal and not very compelling – yet I’ll bet that 19 out of 20 requests I receive use it. Lazy! Take 30 seconds to write up a personalized message stating why you’d like to connect with the person you’re contacting. They will appreciate it.
- Not ‘tagging’ their connections. LinkedIn has a system in place for segmenting a user’s connections called Tagging. It’s an easy way to keep your clients separate from your competitors separate from your suppliers separate from your friends & neighbors. And once they’re tagged, it’s a lot easier to review your connections or send out targeted InMails.
- Not joining groups. Yeah, I know… a lot of group conversations are drivel and blatant sales pitches. But not all of them. Group conversations can be a great way to stay current on issues among your target audience and to help out those who have real questions that need to be answered. It’s also a great way ‘meet’ people for the first time – then reach out to them afterward to connect. You can join up to 50 groups… but focus on those where your clients and prospects spend their time.
- Not participating in groups. OK, so you joined a group… now what? Now, get out there and ‘engage!’ Scan through the daily emails you receive with summaries of what’s new in your groups. Find appropriate threaded conversations in which you should participate – then go do it. Don’t see any? Then start one. Remember, social media is not just about connecting… it is (ideally) about engaging with the community.
- Not posting updates. Your personal and company LinkedIn profiles are two places where you can easily share information. Come across an interesting article or tweet or image you think your connections might like? Then add it as an update to your profiles… and it’s shared! Use a platform like Hootsuite to post these kinds of interesting tidbits to your LinkedIn profiles, as well as all of your other social media sites at one time.
- Not using LinkedIn as a publishing platform. If you (or someone at your firm) blogs – even a little – it makes sense to re-post those blogs in the ‘publisher’ section of your LinkedIn profile. It exposes the content to a whole new audience. In fact, with some of my posts, I get many more times the readers on LinkedIn than I do on the blog site itself.
There’s an old saying that I’m very fond of… “Things that are easy to do… are also easy not to do.” I guess that’s why the vast majority of LinkedIn users make these mistakes. None of them take more than a couple of minutes – if not just a few seconds – to fix. But the impact they make on your success can be dramatic.