LinkedIn has more than 575 million users, according to leading WordPress hosting platform Kinsta, and nearly half of those are active every month (meaning they post, comment or “like” on the platform). If that isn’t impressive enough, LinkedIn has its sights on further investments into Latin America. What makes LinkedIn even more powerful is that users update their bios regularly, which is why LinkedIn remains the leading professional social networking site as those seeking to connect can be confident the connections they are potentially requesting are in the roles listed on posted bios.
LinkedIn is a digital goldmine, especially now in the post-COVID digital paradigm. Users post on career engagement, network with others in the industry and share expertise and advice. Unfortunately, less professional engagement can and does happen on LinkedIn. Understanding what works in the world of LinkedIn for networking, and what hinders, can help remove obstacles for engagement. The following are the five biggest blunders that can hurt credibility and, potentially, career advancement.
Blunder #1: Being vague in why a connection is requested. Some people believe more connections are better. However, some connection requests come with a note that does not share why the sender wants to network. If there is not a clear reasoning for the network connection, many of these requests appear to not help or enhance the receiver’s network. A connection request with a note can help put the connection request into context for the receiver.
Try Instead: Clearly state why a request has been sent and how the connection benefits both parties. To get a connection request accepted, the sender should consider the reason for requesting the connection.
Blunder #2: Focusing on selling versus connecting. Many LinkedIn users complain about this practice and it seems to have become more common. After a connection has been accepted, the next message is a long selling pitch. What is even more surprising is the immediate request for a call or virtual demo. This is a request of someone’s time without taking time to connect first. A focus on selling will not help with lead generation or brand reputation. This type of communication does little for the recipient.
Try Instead: The sender would do better to offer a thank you for the connection and share something that might benefit the new connection, such as a video or article. Sharing knowledge can go a long way.
Blunder #3: Not investing in a current professional photo. One of the first digital impressions from a LinkedIn profile is the user photo. Using a photo that is casual, that is old or that is provocative is missing a great opportunity to showcase a level of professionalism. A photo is a visual precursor to a job interview or lecturer. Investment in a professional photo is also a wise one as it can be used in a variety of digital ways. By keeping the photo current, network members are also easy to identify in other settings (remember those trade shows?).
Try Instead: Even a quick shot with a smartphone can work. Lighting that is direct and natural is best (morning or late afternoon). The photo should capture from the shoulders up and minimize distractions in the background.
Blunder #4: Posting on politics. While many may have an opinion on the current political climate, sharing political viewpoints may not be the best decision. Posts and articles on LinkedIn should highlight expertise, provide knowledge and leadership within an industry and share resources that can help networks. Political postings do not fall into these three categories. These may also be off-putting or polarizing to current and future networks.
Try Instead: Those wishing to share political viewpoints should consider posting to another social media channel, keeping the LinkedIn channel focused on how to provide professional leadership and insight.
Blunder #5: The social channel is LinkedIn, not Love Connection. With so many dating apps and websites available to find a soul mate, LinkedIn is not the place to request a connection with the purpose of asking someone out. Not only is this request unprofessional, but it can also easily come across as creepy, especially for women. LinkedIn users are using the platform for career and networking and expect others to do the same.
Try Instead: Use LinkedIn for its primary purpose — namely, professional networking — and save the search for love to those websites or apps that have been specifically created for that reason.
LinkedIn provides amazing potential to connect with experts, learn about new trends in one’s industry, explore options and discover new career paths and positions. LinkedIn can work well for digital connection and professional networking, especially if these blunders are avoided. These small modifications can unlock new networking opportunities and strong professional engagement now as well as in the future, helping establish one’s credibility within both one’s industry and organization – and tapping in better to the power of LinkedIn in one’s professional practice.
Lisa Apolinski is an international speaker, digital strategist, author and founder of 3 Dog Write. She works with companies to develop and share their message using digital assets. Her latest book, Persuade With A Digital Content Story, is available on Amazon.
Did You Know: LinkedIn has more than 575 million users, and nearly half of those are active every month (meaning they post, comment or “like” on the platform).