LinkedIn is the go to social site for professional networking and job search. To get the most out of it there are a few rules of engagement to be aware of. Here is a list of the most common mistakes people make on LinkedIn and how to avoid them.
1. Sending generic invitation requests. Unfortunately, LinkedIn has made it too easy to connect by providing a generic text message in the connection request box. You should always, always customize this message by introducing yourself and saying why you want to connect.
For instance, you meet Jim Stanton at a conference and discover you both have something in common. You attended the same university, for example. Mention this in your invitation request. You will make a much better impression doing this, than by hitting the send button using the generic text.
2. Indiscriminately connecting with people. One of the strengths of LinkedIn is the connections you make, but it’s not a race to get to 500 connections. Have a reason for each of the people you connect with — either it’s someone you already know or are related to, or someone it would be beneficial to connect with.
If you don’t know someone, get to know them a bit before sending a personalized connection request. (You can do so by seeing who you have in common — or who they are connected to, checking out their LinkedIn summary and work history, visiting their website or blog, and seeing what Groups they belong to).
3. Asking others who barely know you to write a recommendation. Recommendations should be written only by people who have first hand knowledge of your performance and have observed your work. Requesting a recommendation of someone who barely knows you puts that person in an awkward position. Think how you would feel if the situation were reversed.
4. ‘Setting it and forgetting it’. Your LinkedIn profile is an evolving snapshot of you. It is, after all, your personal professional website. Update it regularly with new connections, status updates and activity. And get active in LinkedIn Groups. Groups are a great place to network and make new connections.
5. Dismissing LinkedIn as a site only for job seekers. The best time to build your LinkedIn profile, connect with people, and participate in LinkedIn is now, before you need it. If you find yourself suddenly unemployed and have not made the effort to get active on LinkedIn you will be playing catch up. Instead, take time now to ‘dig your well before you’re thirsty’, as author Harvey Mackay says.
Take advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer. And remember to be mindful of etiquette too. If you do, you will find the site to be an invaluable networking tool whether you are looking for your next job or needing to grow your network. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.