You may remember my article this past summer about the importance of social selling with LinkedIn, keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date, and using the site to network with prospects, clients, and colleagues. Drilling down further, to get the most from LinkedIn, you must know the established etiquette for using the site. LinkedIn is the venue for putting your virtual self to work in a practical sense, so that you can bridge important connections. This isn’t Facebook; you do not want to embarrass yourself, or even annoy the very folks you’re trying to sell to and/or earn the respect of by treating it the same.
Below is a list of LinkedIn guidelines to keep in mind:
Don’t Feed the Monster
When updating your profile, be sure to turn off the activity feed. Broadcast significant changes only, or you’ll just be glutting your connections’ already overburdened newsfeed. Things like updating your profile picture or adding a new skill are not newsworthy enough to be shared with everyone. So before you make some small change, temporarily turn off notifications by flipping the switch in the “Notify Your Network?” button, located in the right hand column.
The Buzz on Buzzwords
Words and phrases that become overused get stale really quickly. Indeed.com wrote an article about buzzwords like “guru,” “ninja,” and “wizard” being on the decline, particularly in the tech sector. We’ll add to that by saying they sound too self-promotional. There might still be some people out there who think they’re being really clever calling themselves a “sales rockstar,” but it’s better to refrain from doing so in your LinkedIn profile.
Make Your Picture Count
Saying cheese when you get your profile picture taken is one thing; using a cheesy profile picture is quite another. And just because that one person you used to work with is letting his freak flag fly by using an avatar from The Simpsons doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to. Another bad idea is not including a picture at all. No photo can mean you’re missing out on traffic from high-value prospects, colleagues, and recruiters. It’s human nature: People want to see what you look like—according to LinkedIn, profiles with photos are 11 times more likely to be visited than those without. Adhere to these basic rules when uploading your picture:
- Use a recent photo, not one from 10, 15 years ago—that was you; that’s not you anymore.
- No hats, sunglasses, clown noses, or wax vampire teeth.
- Don’t crop a picture from that awesome Hawaiian party vacation you took—you look drunk.
- You don’t have to pay for a professional headshot, but make it professional-looking: Be sure your face is well and evenly lit and that you look relaxed, normal, and approachable.
Use the “I” Voice
Never write your bio in the third-person voice. That’s reserved for authors and About Us pages, etc. Using it on LinkedIn could be misinterpreted as overly self-important, impersonal; even arrogant. Remember, social networking is networking with a personal touch. Keep your profile in the first person.
Personalize Your Connection Request
LinkedIn auto-populates connection requests with the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network,” which is fine if you’re reconnecting with a former colleague for the sake of reconnecting. When you’re reaching out to connect with a prospect or client, however, personalize the request with a stated reason for wanting to connect with her or him. Customized connections are great first steps for following up on hot leads.
Now that you know the “rules,” go forth and connect with purpose—don’t Facebook it up!