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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

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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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