LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site used for professional networking. The site launched in December of 2003 and has since grown to over 300 million users in over 200 countries and territories. Although LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networking sites on the web, it is different from other social networking site, because it’s strictly for professional use. If done correctly, LinkedIn can be used to connect with potential employers, or even coworkers. But how does one connect on LinkedIn? I’ll provide you with a few Do’s and Don’ts that are important to a successful LinkedIn experience.
DO personalize requests:
Connection requests are important. I don’t mean personalize every single connection request you send. You may not have to personalize the connection request you’re sending to your sister, or the girl you sit next to in the office. Chances are, these people actually know your name and your face, and won’t hit the “Report Spam” or “I Don’t Know This Person” button. But when sending connection requests to people you don’t know, or people who may have forgotten who you are, you must personalize your requests, if not for an introduction, then for a reminder of who you are.
DON’T try to rack up your connections:
It’s not about the quantity of connections you have. LinkedIn is not a popularity contest. Try focusing on those you actually know and those who will give you professional support. No one is required to accept a request from you, especially if they don’t know you, and equally you should never feel obligated to accept those of people you aren’t familiar with.
DO have a profile picture:
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Nobody wants a request from that generic silhouette. You want people to be able to see your face. There’s nothing more friendly than an actual smiling face. Yes, you have to smile too. People respond much more positively to smiling faces than they do to non-smiling faces.
DON’T have an improper profile picture:
Speaking of pictures, it’s important to have a proper profile picture. The background should be clean and either monotone or out of focus (maybe get one of your photographer friends to do it for you). You should always present yourself alone, never in group pictures. You may want to show off that nice dress you’re wearing, but I urge you to keep it limited to a headshot. For more information on headshots, you can go here.
DO keep it professional:
LinkedIn is nothing like Twitter and Facebook. It is never appropriate to post things that aren’t professional. That excludes status updates about what you ate for lunch, pictures of your pets (no matter how cute they are), and emotional tangents, among many, many other things. LinkedIn suggests that you never post anything that isn’t relevant to business. Also, you never want to comment negatively on company status updates, and you want to always avoid conflict.
DON’T Over Post:
While most sites allow for multiple posts a day without penalty, LinkedIn is not one of them. LinkedIn stresses that more than two posts a day can get excessive. It is recommended that you avoid posting more than one status update a day.
DO Keep in touch:
Reach out to your most valued connections so that you can nurture your relationships. Leave a comment on an update, congratulate them on a new promotion, send them something useful to their profession. You don’t want your connections to think you’re only slipping into their mailboxes when you want their help with something.
DON’T pester people:
It is not okay to solicit likes for Facebook or followers for Twitter on LinkedIn. It’s not okay to constantly message people who haven’t messaged back. Don’t ask for endorsements from your connections you don’t know personally. If they want to endorse you, they will. Just don’t pester people. I can’t stress enough how important it is to remain professional on LinkedIn.
DO respond promptly:
Just like email, you don’t want to wait too long to reply to someone’s message. 1-2 days is acceptable, but any longer can be pushing it.
DON’T send the same message to multiple people:
Or at least, don’t make it obvious that you’re doing it. There is an option to “allow recipients to see each other’s names and email addresses.” Make sure you deselect this option when you’re sending a message to multiple people. Messages just don’t feel special when we know they’re being sent to ten other people.
Always, always, always remember that LinkedIn may be considered a social networking site, but it is only ever used for business purposes. If you want to connect with friends and family, LinkedIn isn’t what you’re looking for. You must also remember that LinkedIn rules aren’t really optional. If you are one of those rule breakers, you could be marked as spam. If you’re marked as spam too many times, you could be sent to jail! Not real jail, just LinkedIn Jail. Yes, it’s a thing. Who knew? There are actually four different levels to LinkedIn Jail, and this article explains them more in depth.