Hallelujah! LinkedIn did its users a great service when it stopped supporting the feature that allowed users to connect their Twitter stream to their LinkedIn status.
Use of this tool had reached the point where the once somewhat useful status updates section had become nothing more than a TweetDeck column where your LinkedIn contacts’ tweets could be found.
Now that the LinkedIn site is back to what it was intended to be—a powerful networking site where the benefits of social media meet the needs of the professional—we can refocus our efforts to maximize this platform.
There still seems to be some confusion on how to use LinkedIn, however, and although filling your contacts’ world with Tweets is no longer a LinkedIn option, there are still several basic tenets of using LinkedIn that seem to go ignored.
More than anything, LinkedIn is not Facebook; it isn’t Twitter or any other social network, for that matter. It is the most useful network on the planet for professionals and companies looking to hire the best talent, find key customer contacts, or network for strategic partners or groups.
If you want other pros on LinkedIn to take you seriously, you need to avoid certain behaviors, even if they are perfectly acceptable on other social networks.
For best results, here are six social networking practices you should avoid on LinkedIn:
Frequent status updates
People don’t check LinkedIn nearly as often as they do Facebook or most other social networks, for that matter. I recommend that statuses are updated no more than once or twice a day. This is more for your benefit than for your network. If you change too frequently, few members of your network will see your updates. So, oversimplify here, and focus on sharing much less frequently, but try to find highly interesting content that will benefit your connections.
I know you may want to be a first-level connection with Mark Zuckerberg or Tim Cook, but random connection requests are generally frowned upon.
Collecting connections is like collecting Twitter followers. If they aren’t interested in you, your product, or your service, then the connection may not hold much value. (Disclaimer: I know not everyone agrees with this, but unless you are in MLM or something like that, open networking may do nothing more than increase your connection stats.) However, with LinkedIn’s ability to display your second- and third-level connections, the best way to connect out of the blue is a referral using the introduction request.
If you really want to give it a go and connect to those you have no relationship with, at the very least include a note saying why you want to connect and how it might be mutually beneficial.
Profile picture faux pas
There is no excuse anymore for not having a profile picture. That in itself is a faux pas. However, worse than those with no pic are those who put their Friday night bender photo—at the bar—up as their profile pic. Worse yet, the kissing the girlfriend picture or the can’t find my shirt photo.
This is a professional networking site, so although I can’t shame the startup CEO for taking a picture in his favorite T-shirt, I would recommend just for this one picture that you put on a collar and a sincere smile.
Facebook is a great place to talk about your weekend adventures or great meals out. On Pinterest you can pin the picture of your dinner, and you can tweet about it to your followers. On LinkedIn the updates should be professional in nature. So unless it personally has to do with a career change, a published article, or perhaps some good news about your company, LinkedIn isn’t the place for it.
There is perhaps no better way to annoy your network than to spam your groups and/or connections with untargeted sales promotions. I have connections offering promotional products, mobile Web development, and financial services every day. I find these incredibly annoying. I do think that using in-mail and very targeted communications can be extremely effective on LinkedIn, and that is a much better way to leverage the platform.
Just like spammy selling, I don’t recommend this on any platform. Treat LinkedIn like a “resume.” Though it may or may not be official, you can assume that others view it that way. If you put it on LinkedIn you should try and make sure it is accurate and can be verified.
Just like Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest, LinkedIn is a great social network. However, we have to remember it is a professional network and to achieve best results we must use it that way.