LinkedIn is the largest professional social media platform. It’s a great way to stay in touch with colleagues past and present, as well as a terrific place to look for that next gig. However, LinkedIn is definitely all about business and is not the place to post your “Red Solo Cup” pictures.
Like most professional groups, LinkedIn has an understood etiquette that members should follow. Not following it can get you ostracized from the group. Here are some of our top tips for making sure you remain in good standing.
1. LinkedIn isn’t a popularity contest.
LinkedIn is about building your professional network. Be purposeful in how you connect with people. Don’t just randomly connect with people that you have no affiliation. Always be professional. If you ask someone to make an introduction for you, take the time to explain why you would like the introduction. Remember, your connection is putting their reputation on the line to make the introduction for you.
2. Don’t use InMail to spam other users.
No one likes spam. And if you are indiscriminately emailing people, you are spamming them. Sending out copy/paste InMail messages to your professional connections or fellow group members is the quickest way to sever relationships.
3. Don’t abuse your connections’ email addresses.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it happens over and over again – do not (I repeat: DO NOT) abuse the email addresses of your LinkedIn connections by subscribing them to your newsletter or signing them up for whatever it is you’re trying to sell… unless you want to make yourself appear downright inconsiderate and tacky. If that’s your goal, then by all means – spam away.
4. Don’t treat LinkedIn like Facebook.
This should be obvious: don’t post anything on LinkedIn that you wouldn’t put in a cover letter to your future boss. Unfortunately, there are an alarming number of people on LinkedIn who use inappropriate pictures as their head shot. Leave the bar pics, bikini shots, and pics of you cuddling your newborn or pet cat for Facebook. When in doubt, have a friend take a head shot of you dressed professionally and standing in front of a solid background. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, use your legal name – not your unprofessional nickname.
5. Don’t treat LinkedIn like Match.com.
Newsflash: LinkedIn is NOT a dating service and using the site to hound people for dates is not OK. An alarming number of people have indicated they’ve have been propositioned on LinkedIn. There are plenty of dating sites on the internet – and LinkedIn is not one of them.
6. Don’t abuse recommendations.
Would you put down someone you’ve never met as a personal reference on a job application? I have had people I’ve never met (never even heard of!) ask me for a recommendation. Too often people solicit everyone they’ve ever encountered for recommendations. A good rule of thumb is this: if you wouldn’t put someone down as a reference on a job application, you probably shouldn’t ask them for a LinkedIn recommendation.
With a little common sense and forethought, you can use LinkedIn to promote your personal brand and help you advance your career. Just remember to treat it professionally and don’t publish anything that you wouldn’t put on your resume. With that as your guideline you are sure to keep in everyone’s good graces.
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