Personal Branding on LinkedIn: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

LinkedIn is a fantastic online business networking platform for professionals.Personal Branding on LinkedIn 10 Mistakes to Avoid

It has almost become the default global network for all serious business people to connect, engage and share ideas due to its sheer size with over 175 million registered users.

From day one it was set up for the express purpose of  providing an easy to use portal to exchange ideas and network with like minded individuals. Its tone is more formal than Facebook or Twitter which seems to escape some people.

And for job seekers, it’s a brilliant place to showcase yourself and your personal brand. But, if you’re doing the following, you’re NOT doing your “Brand You” any favours:

#1. Don’t use anything other than a professional looking photo

Preferably head and shoulders. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional platform, so a photo of you downing a beer at a pub, or in your bikini should be reserved for other social platforms like Facebook. Some people don’t have photos at all. It makes me think they have something to hide… We live in a visual world and people want to see what you look like.

#2. Don’t lie.

All your connections can view your profile and if you lie, you will be found out. It will be very embarrassing too. Look what happened to former Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson.

#3. Don’t send people an invitation with LinkedIn’s default text.

It makes them think you couldn’t be bothered to write a personalized message. Why would they bother connecting with you? Give them a good reason, especially if they don’t know you.

Note: currently on smartphones, the iPad app and some pages on the LinkedIn website eg. “People you may know” – LinkedIn sends off the invite without giving you the opportunity to customize the message. LinkedIn needs to fix this, but in the meantime, avoid these when sending requests.

#4. Don’t use the “Friend” option

Only do this when you are a friend of theirs. It’s a major pet peeve for many professionals on LinkedIn and they won’t want to connect with you.

#5. Don’t forget to include all your external links

These links include your major social media properties of Twitter (or Facebook if you prefer), your blog and your website (and name them).

Many people don’t even know you can do this. You can include up to 3 links under the “Websites” heading. So for example, I’ve included Firebrand’s website, Firebrand’s blog and Firebrand’s Facebook page. There’s another section to include your Twitter address. Again, you can include up to 3 links here and name them). I’ve included my own and Firebrand’s Twitter site.

#6. Don’t leave your LinkedIn profile incomplete

This is important if you want to be found. LinkedIn has a “wizard” which guides you through completing your profile and tells you when it is 100% complete. Most important is your Summary, your Experience, your Skills & Expertise and your Headline. Make sure that they are “keyword rich”. Did you know that all these sections, and more, are searchable? So if you want to be found, make the effort to optimize your profile.

#7. Don’t be lazy when sharing links and updates.

Customize your message for LinkedIn. Many people post the same message on multiple platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ instead of customizing their message. It irritates people when they see @Twitter handles and #Hashtags on LinkedIn status updates. Having said that, many don’t realise that if you click on the “Twitter handle”, the link will take you to their Twitter page, and if you click on a hashtag in LinkedIn, it will bring up search results for that keyword. Maybe it would irritate them less if they realized this. Anyway, my message is to take an extra couple of minutes to customize and you’ll reap the benefits.

#8. Don’t use LinkedIn groups purely for getting “linkbacks” to your website or blog

This will see you labelled as a spammer. A well managed LinkedIn group is tightly monitored and most will only allow discussions, questions and commentary. Many will allow you to link to other people’s blog posts, but not your own. A bit strange if you ask me. Even if your post is totally relevant to the discussion; it is perceived as self-promotion.

#9. Don’t spam your connections.

Don’t use your LinkedIn as your email marketing platform and spam people with news and events about your company. Most won’t be interested and will remove you as a connection.

#10. Don’t ask people who DON’T know you to write recommendations for you.

It’s awkward for them and you won’t get a recommendation that you’ll want to publish anyway. Remember, it’s not about the quantity of the recommendations, it’s about the quality of them. And for the record, tit for tat, reciprocal recommendations look dodgy.

What About You?

How is your LinkedIn etiquette. Is it enhancing your personal brand or could it do with some polishing?

How effective is your LinkedIn profile? Could you take some of these tips today and make some improvements?

Is there anything I should have added to this list?  Please add your thoughts to the comments below.

 

Guest Author: Carolyn Hyams is the Global Marketing Director for award-winning digital recruitment specialist, Firebrand Talent Search, Carolyn is responsible for Firebrand’s entire brand strategy and execution in the UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions. She brings a wealth of local and international experience to the Firebrand team, including expertise in brand development and strategy, digital and traditional marketing strategy and execution, and is particularly passionate about social media marketing. Follow Carolyn on Twitter:  or connect with her on LinkedIn:

 

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/themediabarista Mallie Hart

    A new don’t we’re seeing by people who should ABSOLUTELY know better is keyword bombing your profile. Just like SEO spamming in the code of sites of old, this even more visible act is simply gaming SEO and it won’t win you any points with me.

    • Carolyn Hyams

      Mallie, I totally agree with you. Don’t people realize it is so obvious when you look at their profile as to what they’ve done? Except it is visible, not hidden in the code.

  • http://psoshul.com/ Nicholas Papillon

    Very great article Carolyn~!! I agree very much with your points, I admit however, I was unaware of #8 being an issue… I notice the high majority of people posting their blog link to their update, AS WELL as ALL the groups they belong too… Perhaps I’ve just not encountered the group/group leader that isn’t cool with it.

    Also, as a last “addition” I would leave a point about the “Skills” feature which is new to LinkedIn. We can endorse the skills of others (IF WE TRULY RECOGNIZE THOSE SKILLS), we can be endorsed and request endorsement form others as well; Don’t forget also, you/we can +add new skills to our profiles which in turn may be endorsed by others as well… USE THAT SKILLS SECTION : )

    Potent Gratitude again Carolyn, keep up the great articles~!! (You too Jeff~!! ; )

    #7 is my “Fav” BTW~!!

    • Carolyn Hyams

      Nicholas, thanks for leaving such great feedback. And I’m so glad you touched on endorsements too. I’ve got some serious concerns about how the system can be abused. The other day, a complete stranger (but a connection of mine), endorsed me for about 6 different skills. Though it’s nice, it’s so dodgy. You can imagine who else is doing it. How do they know how brilliant (or not) I am at those skills? It’s similar to a dodgy recommendation – but even worse because it is really easy to do and you don’t have to write anything about the person.

      • http://psoshul.com/ Nicholas Papillon

        Funny you mention that, I too recognized that potential to exploit/abuse the feature, as I too, (without naming names) had an equally unsettling perception: An individual that I personally know and am connected to on LinkedIn, was recently endorsed for a skill, to which not only have I personal knowledge that the individual does NOT have the skill, but in the very recent past has failed at executing on this skill in real-world application due to absolute lack of effort/attention… At first I was a bit upset, but being the eternal optimist that I am, figured that at the least, this is a great feature, which with a bit of growth and maturity, could turn into one of the most effective/potent features on LinkedIn.

        I like you, certainly hope they can innovate a “frictionless” or at least “low friction” method/tweak to make this a feature with more clout and credibility… for now I guess we’ll just have to exercise the additional due-diligence to see “who’s endorsed” the skill of the individual we’re screening/considering.

      • http://psoshul.com/ Nicholas Papillon

        Funny you mention that, I too recognized that potential to exploit/abuse the feature, as I too, (without naming names) had an equally unsettling perception: An individual that I personally know and am connected to on LinkedIn, was recently endorsed for a skill, to which not only have I personal knowledge that the individual does NOT have the skill, but in the very recent past has failed at executing on this skill in real-world application due to absolute lack of effort/attention… At first I was a bit upset, but being the eternal optimist that I am, figured that at the least, this is a great feature, which with a bit of growth and maturity, could turn into one of the most effective/potent features on LinkedIn.

        I like you, certainly hope they can innovate a “frictionless” or at least “low friction” method/tweak to make this a feature with more clout and credibility… for now I guess we’ll just have to exercise the additional due-diligence to see “who’s endorsed” the skill of the individual we’re screening/considering.

  • http://www.jacobcurtis.co/ Jacob Curtis

    Hi Carolyn! Excellent points made in this article. I agree that recommendations are like fine wine, the longer you wait to ask for them, the better they will be! Also, the person who recommends you is putting their own reputation at stake in doing so!

    AKA don’t ask for recommendations from people who don’t know you!

    PS: You Link in #4 takes me to a wordpress login page. Might want to fix that!

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks Jocob for pointing out that hyperlink error (it is now fixed). It may have been due to the fact that I was editing it from a tropical beach on Boracy in the Philippines while on holiday. :)

  • http://www.jacobcurtis.co/ Jacob Curtis

    Hi Carolyn! Excellent points made in this article. I agree that recommendations are like fine wine, the longer you wait to ask for them, the better they will be! Also, the person who recommends you is putting their own reputation at stake in doing so!

    AKA don’t ask for recommendations from people who don’t know you!

    PS: You Link in #4 takes me to a wordpress login page. Might want to fix that!

  • Pam Gould

    Hi Carolyn. Thanks for the great article. I’m new to LinkedIn, new to social media, new to business, and it feels like arriving at a dinner party just in time for pudding. So lovely to have a quick reference guide to LinkedIn etiquette.

    • Carolyn Hyams

      I’m thrilled to hear that Pam. BTW, arriving at “pudding” time sounds good to me – At least you’ll benefit from everyone else’s experience.

  • Carolyn Hyams

    Hi Mann. Thanks for the positive feedback. Regarding your query about #4, I think firstly you need to question why you want to connect with a complete stranger. It’s always better to connect with someone when you have some sort of “other connection” or a valid reason to connect with them. Instead of using the “friend” option (which they might reject), why don’t you google their name and see what comes up. Maybe they have a blog, or a Twitter account for example. There might be a better alternative when connecting.

  • http://twitter.com/NolinBPO Nolin BPO

    I’ve committed the mistake of inviting other LinkedIn users using the default setting. Thanks for the tips, I’ve learned a lot, eh. :)

    • Carolyn Hyams

      Fantastic. Thanks for letting me know Nolin

      • http://twitter.com/NolinBPO Nolin BPO

        Welcome Carolyn, and keep posting great and informative blog posts. :)

    • http://twitter.com/TintSupplier Tint Supplier

      I’ve done that mistake too. Well, not anymore.

  • http://www.socialbakers.com/ Peter Kelly

    These are all very good tips. Thanks for writing this, Carolyn. I have some 100+ connections on LinkedIn and I, personally, may have invited a half them to connect to me, however, only with the default message. After I read your article, I now see what difference it makes when you spend the time writing you own personalized message for the people. Thanks again for this article.

    • Carolyn Hyams

      Thanks for the positive feedback Peter. Glad you found the post useful

  • http://twitter.com/James_Mayes James Mayes

    #3 – Pretty sure Bill Boorman did a research piece on this one recently and found he got a far higher rate of acceptance with standard text that he did with something personalised. Is there any research behind this recommendation, or going on gut feel?

    • Carolyn Hyams

      Definitely going on my feeling about this (and hearing many complaints from others) James. No hard stats.

    • http://twitter.com/Stacy_Nel Stacy Nelson

      This is really useful. Currently, with smartphone technology, I do sent out “cold connects” as a networking tool, and I do see a good return on this. However I always, ALWAYS message new connections to say hello and thanks and, if it’s not clear, why I chose to connect with them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/margo.bastow Margo Bastow

    Thanks for the reminders!

  • ardmoredc

    Optimizing your LinkedIn Skills & Expertise is new way to get your profile / small business on top of Google search. Top 100 #LinkedIn Skill List. Management #1 Where does your skill rank? ow.ly/f2d9n

  • http://twitter.com/HiddenValleyRV Hidden Valley RVPark

    Another thought: Once you know their interests you may try to connect through groups that would benefit you both. Once you share a group you have an “in” to connect.

  • http://twitter.com/EvaMArmborst Eva M. Armborst

    Thank you for the tips! I actually did the mistake of using the default message as well – I currently improved my profile and added more detailed descriptions, but I think it can still need some refining…

  • http://www.rishona.net/blog/ Shona

    It’s a shame that people have to be specifically told not to lie. I was frankly shocked to find out that about 1/4 of the people I talked to about resume said outright that it’s “ok” to embellish a little. I myself have never, ever done that (wouldn’t even think of it). Not only because it is wrong, but because getting caught would absolutely mortify me!

    • Steven Feeney

      However, a friend of mine went to work for one of the big tech companies and the recruiter said he would not hire people who didn’t lie a little…it showed salesmanship.

  • Gina

    Your article says: , if you’re doing the following, you’re NOT doing your “Brand You” any favours”. You have “Don’t Lie” as one of the items. I get what you mean, but it you follow what you wrote, you’re basically saying “If you don’t lie, you’re NOT doing your Brand You any favors!” :)

  • http://twitter.com/TintSupplier Tint Supplier

    Thanks for the LinkenIn information. I should spend more time there.

  • Gennia Holder

    Thank you for sharing this. The number of invitations I receive from strangers with no personalized intro had my shorts in a bunch and I was like a mad scientist in the lab when I wrote an article about “Minding Your Manners On LinkedIn”. I have about 40 connection requests sitting there now that I’m about to delete. http://goo.gl/Xa6ja

  • http://www.ideatoopen.com/ Elijah R. Young

    Hey Carolyn,

    I just wanted to stop by and say thanks for writing this article, and that I just quoted and referenced it in my show today. Everyone was very happy with the show.

    I used the ‘Don’t use default text’ tip for this show, but wouldn’t mind showcasing other articles from you if the opportunity arises. You can check out the show here: http://bit.ly/14HVcCm

    @elijahryoung:disqus

  • philhill

    nice jeff

  • Alexandria Trusov

    Overall – great post. Two notes 1) Be YOU. Do not use your personal LI page as your Company’s page. (LI has Company pages for that purpose, to highlight your brand, which people can choose to follow.) LinkedIn is about connecting people. 2) Expanding on your #9 – LinkedIn is not Facebook. Please do not spam your connections FB style personal posts about your kids or life philosophy or joke of the day. (And this is why I use “hide” button – which means people like me won’t see your actual important updates because we stopped reading them long ago.)

  • Michael Ivers

    Thank you Carolyn. I have been a LinkedIn user for almost 10 years and frequently discover something about it I didn’t know or could be user to greater benefit.
    As for what I do, I always send a note with an invitation. I have a great memory for names and faces and where we worked, yet many aren’t so endowed. I also thank everyone who accepts an invitation.
    I sometimes do use the Friend option because I have connections that I never worked with but have known for a very long while.
    I am not certain that anyone’s profile is ever considered as 100% complete. If there is such a level, I am lost as to what else I need to include.
    Now for a few peeves: people who do not respond to personalized invitations, people who do not respond to InMail, people who view my profile as anonymous. Also, why I have initiated 95% of my connections.
    Last, much as Brandaide commented, I would like to know whether or not all I have done has resulted in greater visibility and marketability of myself.

  • WillA

    I agree with most of this, but Facebook and Twitter might be used merely for personal use, so why include links to them on LinkedIn? I don’t think that my professional contacts or potential contacts need to know what my wife looks like or how many mouths I need to feed.

  • http://www.scribblestudio.biz/ Holly Larson

    I’d add this one: Don’t ask someone for a LinkedIn connection, posing as a legitimate business contact, only to follow-up with an immediate product push or request for help. Ugh.

  • http://www.TheRoadtoTheGoodLife.com/ Eden Hensley Silverstein

    Good list. I’d also add: Don’t pose as a legitimate business contact and then respond with a request for a date or similar. LinkedIn is meant to an online dating site.

  • http://www.sparkstonecreative.co.uk SparkstoneCreative

    People I don’t know asking me for a recommendation is definitely my top LinkedIn #fail (you’ve probably guessed that the hash tag thing doesn’t bother me – mainly because people also use it to express irony or a one word summary of their message).

    The main people who ask for recommendations are recruitment agents – and that’s OK if I’ve used them to find a job or if I’m hiring, but I’m not going to recommend someone just because we’re connected.

  • docbiz

    Anyone interested in developing their personal brand should get: Personal Brand Planning for life, available on Amazon.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/suebrettell Sue Brettell

    I absolutely agree that LinkedIn needs to change that auto default message from the “people you may know” page. I’ve been caught out by it a few times and have immediately sent the invitee a short customised message.

    I have one high profile connection who regularly spams me with invitations to her events etc. Your post has helped me to decide to disconnect her.

  • Ali Raza

    Simple, Effective and to the point guide!