Are You Making These 5 LinkedIn Mistakes?

Most of us know of and use LinkedIn as a professional networking platform to stay engaged with our peers, coworkers, friends, and their careers. From early-in-career students and new grads to later-in-career experienced professionals, I’ve noticed that many people miss out on some important best practices. Today, we’ll go through 5 LinkedIn activities that you should avoid + I’ve added some tips, examples, and bonus articles in case you want more details.

1. Having a low quality or unprofessional profile photo

Keep your blurry group photos, high school prom pictures, and travel selfies on Facebook or Instagram. For LinkedIn, a simple headshot with a nice smile is all you need. The next time you see a nice backdrop, ask your friend to take a photo of you from the waist up and then crop the photo to show your head and shoulders (400×400). Your profile photo should also look like you, so keep it updated as the years fly by.

Tip: Look at your profile photo and ask yourself if you would be OK with Forbes publishing it on their front page tomorrow morning. If not, it is time to get a new one!

Check out 10 Tips for Picking The Right LinkedIn Profile Picture

2. Not keeping your profile updated

Your LinkedIn is meant to be an accurate representation of your professional self, skills, and experiences. In addition to updating your profile photo, you should also update your skills and experiences. Update your profile if you are no longer working in a particular position or at that company. Add new activities when you start new jobs or programs so that others are aware of what you’re up to.

Tip: Develop the habit of updating both your resume and LinkedIn profile at least once every few months so that you stay relevant.

Check out 20 Steps to a Better LinkedIn Profile in 2020 and 9 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile in 10 Minutes

3. Sending invitations without personalized messages

We receive dozens of invites every day. I currently have 270+ connect invitations still waiting for my response because they are from people I don’t know, have never met, or have never been introduced to. Had some of these people personalized their invites with a purposeful introduction that goes beyond “I’d like to add you to my professional network”, I might’ve accepted.

It only takes a minute to personalize your invite with a greeting and intention, but it goes a long way in getting a response. First, it reminds the other person where they have met you (ex: at a networking event) in case they might have forgotten. Second, it lets them know why you want to stay in touch (ex: follow up or chat about a specific topic). Third, it’s nice to see that someone went out of their way to write you a message instead of simply clicking the “connect” button without any second thoughts.

Tip: Try to send invites within a week of meeting someone (ex: at an event) so that you stay top of mind.

Check out 10 Best Templates for LinkedIn Requests

4. Building a quantity network instead of a quality network

LinkedIn defines a connection as “a contact you know personally and who you trust on a professional level”. Seeing 500+ on your profile or having thousands of connections may look nice, but it doesn’t mean much if your contacts aren’t actually engaging with you. Avoid connecting with random people for the sake of boosting your count because it devalues the quality of your network. It may also put you in awkward situations when you’re asked to provide referrals or warm introductions to one of your contacts and you have to admit that you don’t actually know them.

Example: You connected with Charlie back in 2017 who you never met. In 2019, your friend, Alex, saw that you were connected to Charlie and asked you to introduce them because Alex wants to work at Charlie’s company. Since you never talked to Charlie before, you wouldn’t be able to provide a meaningful introduction (if you did, Charlie would probably ignore you because they’ve never talked to you before). Ultimately, this scenario defeats the purpose of LinkedIn.

Check out Forbes article Having 500+ LinkedIn Contacts Means Nothing Unless… and Here’s What Happened When I Accepted Over 300 Random LinkedIn Requests

5. Engaging only when you need something

Avoid being one of those people who creates a LinkedIn profile, connects with people, and then drops off the platform until they’re “looking for their next opportunity”. When layoffs take place, there is usually a surge of LinkedIn activity from those affected, but it is important to come across as genuine and authentic when reaching out to others for advice, introductions, and referrals.

You can’t expect other people to go out of their way and be interested in you if you’ve never made any effort to stay engaged on the platform in the first place. Even if you’re not big on social media, try to find some time each week or month to see what your network is up to, like or comment on their posts, and share any interesting posts you come across that may be valuable to your network.

Check out 6 Ways to Be Engaged on LinkedIn

TL;DR

  1. Don’t have a low quality or unprofessional profile photo. It is 2020 and we all have phone cameras with decent quality.
  2. Don’t let your profile go stale and irrelevant. It only takes a few minutes to make updates on your phone or laptop.
  3. Don’t send invitations without personalized messages. Take a moment to put some thought and effort into your introductions.
  4. Don’t prioritize quantity over quality. Having a large network does not mean you have a strong network.
  5. Don’t wait until you need something to start engaging with your network. Show interest in others if you want them to show any interest in you.

Hope that you will keep these in mind and build habits for better impressions, stronger professional networks, and improved engagement on LinkedIn!

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