With more than 300 million users, LinkedIn is an excellent place to connect with others in your industry. Instead of attending networking meetings, chamber of commerce events and spending untold hours wining and dining those of influence in your field, you can now connect online in a matter of minutes.
However, there are also some ways you can use LinkedIn that will give you a bad rap. Below are a few things you should NEVER do on LinkedIn.
The rules for netiquette haven’t changed much in the last decade. Most people still hate spam and you shouldn’t spam people unless you want to turn them off of you and your business.
However, there seems to be a gray line when it comes to spam and some people don’t realize they are spamming on social media sites. Your email message to a contact on LinkedIn might be spam if:
- You try to sell the person something.
- You ask for a favor.
- You send it without really knowing the person.
Just because a name pops up in your “People You May Know” list doesn’t necessarily mean you know those people at all. These lists are pulled from your other connections. Your friend’s great-aunt Mary probably doesn’t care that you just got promoted to Vice-President of Sales for your company. She only cares about your friend’s accomplishments.
When reaching out to someone be sure to:
- Make sure you at least know the person in passing.
- Make sure the person will know who you are (or at least send a short explanation of who you are, how you know that person and why you want to connect).
- Don’t just add people for the sake of upping your connections.
Form letters rarely work online and the reason is that people expect some level of personalization when connecting through social media.
Sending a message or email that has incorrect info can be a big turnoff to potential employees, clients and those you wish to network with.
- Make sure you have the person’s correct name and it is spelled correctly.
- Don’t refer to a city near that person unless you know for a fact that is where he is located.
- Don’t send blanket, generic letters to a mass list of connections. They’ll just get deleted and you may quickly become “unconnected.”
Additional Etiquette Tips
There are some other things that while seemingly minor can make a big difference between someone finding you or accepting your connection request and just deleting your request and moving on.
- Fill out your profile. Add a picture. Add a bio. List places you’ve worked. The more detailed you can be, the easier it will be for others to find you.
- Don’t ask for recommendations. Do give them to others, but always be upfront and honest with your recommendations.
- If you’re looking for a new job, turn off your broadcasts so that people who follow you aren’t notified when you make updates to your profile. A sudden rash of updates might signal to your current employer that you’re job hunting.
- Help others by introducing two contacts you think could help one another. They may return the favor one day.
- Don’t get political. You aren’t going to change anyone’s mind by arguing about politics, but you might lose a few connections or even a customer or two. It is best to save the political discussions for your own group of friends or in other forums that are not online or tied to your professional persona.
Being aware of the best ways to present yourself on LinkedIn can be a valuable tool in the online networking world. Not only does LinkedIn allow you to connect with others inside your company, but it also allows you to connect with industry experts around the world to share ideas.