10 essentials of LinkedIn etiquette

LinkedIn is a professional network, so it’s important to be on your best behavior. Follow these tips to the letter.


LinkedIn has become an extremely powerful social tool in our professional lives. It’s that word—professional—that is the essence of LinkedIn etiquette. Earlier, we pointed out 10 essentials of Twitter etiquette, we do so now for LinkedIn users.

So whether you’re managing a brand or your own presence on LinkedIn, here are 10 etiquette rules:

1. Is it LinkedIn or Linkedin? According to the AP Stylebook’s social media guidelines, it’s LinkedIn—with a capital I. It gets confusing because the company’s logo is a lowercase “in,” but until AP tells me to change it, I’m going with LinkedIn—and I encourage you to do the same.

2. Don’t send a mass request for recommendations and endorsements. If you’re looking for people to recommend you in a public forum, make sure you’re tapping people who are familiar with your work. It helps if they like you, too. Reach out to those people individually and make the request. Rather than saying, “Can you endorse my social media skills?” leave it up to the other person. “Can you take a look at my skills when you have a chance and endorse any you think are appropriate?” is a stronger choice here. Do not give people a deadline for recommending you. I heard of this happening once, and I was appalled.

3. No personal updates, cat pictures, or “thoughts and prayers.” LinkedIn is a professional networking tool. You wouldn’t walk into an important meeting and announce the hilarious thing your kid said over the weekend. OK, maybe you might, but leave the personal stuff for Facebook. If you feel that it blurs the line between personal and professional, err on the side of caution and don’t post it. It sounds ridiculous, but people can really lose respect for you if you post things that are generally reserved for more informal social media outlets. Although we’re all saddened by the tragic events that took place in (insert location here), LinkedIn just isn’t the forum for sending your thoughts and prayers their way. Those expressions, however benevolent, should stay on Facebook or Twitter.

4. Funny’s OK; tasteless isn’t. It wouldn’t be outlandish to share an industry-specific meme or a funny post that’s work-related. But if it’s tasteless, controversial, mean-spirited, or negative in tone, stifle it. It’s not worth the risk of offending someone.

5. Personalize connection requests and other points of contact. If something pops up with an auto-fill field, personalize the copy. If it’s a former co-worker, personalize your hello. If it’s someone you met once, it would be a good move to remind them how you met and bring up an interesting topic you talked about.

6. It might be time to update that photo. Are you using the same photo you had when you joined LinkedIn four years ago? Upload a new one. While we’re talking photos, that picture of you playing guitar and singing to your parakeet is super adorable, but unless your profession involves entertainment at children’s birthday parties, opt for something more professional.

7. Be accurate with your work info. You absolutely want to present your best self in your LinkedIn profile, but not at accuracy’s expense. We’ve all turned our own version of “janitor” into “custodial engineer” here and there, but that’s semantics. Avoid a potentially embarrassing situation by nixing any blatant inaccuracies.

8. Avoid oversharing.
I have a LinkedIn connection who has shared five articles with me since breakfast. He’s blowing up my feed; he’s a feed-jacker. Though I applaud his effort to become a one-man Buzzfeed, he’s annoying me. If you annoy people who follow you, they might never want to do business with you. I also have a LinkedIn connection who posts one interesting article or blog post a day—my click-through rate on his posts is probably around 90 percent. Keep it relevant—and sporadic.

9. Don’t vague-bash your company or co-workers. I’ve seen people in their feed or in groups who will outline a problem they’re having under the guise of seeking advice. They’re not naming names—they’re vague-bashing. It’s not a smart thing to do for a number of reasons—for one, it looks desperate. Be as transparent as possible while keeping your posts and interactions as positive as possible.

10. Do you have to personally know every person you connect with?
LinkedIn certainly seems to want you to know them. In plenty of instances, though, I’ve introduced myself to people through LinkedIn because I admire their work or want to use them as sources. I avoid phantom connecting—that is, my sending a connection request seemingly out of nowhere.

Readers, do you have any other dos or don’ts for LinkedIn users?

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