LinkedIn is arguably the best online space for professional marketing and networking. When done right, it offers the opportunity to expand your network, enhance the credibility of yourself and your brand and connect with lucrative clients and partners.
If you’re making any of these nine networking mistakes on LinkedIn, you could be harming your brand and causing irrevocable damage.
1. Being too wordy or long-winded.
LinkedIn is a marketing tool, and as with any form of marketing, projecting word walls or long-winded paragraphs of text are not attractive to readers.
Focus on the core message of your brand and extract snippets of information, which are most valuable for a reader to know.
When it comes to contributing content via blog posts, group posts or statuses, keep it short and sweet. If you’re in a group, be sure to interact with other member’s content, as well as posting your own.
2. Only thinking about yourself.
Networking is a two-way street. In fact, successful networkers know it’s more about giving than receiving. A great rule of thumb (for any networking activity) is the 80/20 concept.
That is, spend 80% of your time focused on others, such as congratulating them on a new job, thanking them for a recommendation, commenting/liking a post and supporting your contacts. Allocate the remaining 20% for actively promoting yourself and your brand.
3. Coming across as needy.
Before you can expect to receive, you have to give — without being asked. Don’t ask for a recommendation, endorsement, etc., without building a relationship first.
You must offer something of value. Otherwise, you’ll build a reputation for being too self-involved. Build trust, offer value, and then ask for what you need.
4. Being inconsistent.
Never underestimate the power of an engaging, genuine, complete profile. Before branching out, making connections, joining groups and engaging with content, get your ducks in a row and make sure your profile is the best representation of your brand, including:
- Professional headshot/brand logo
- Compelling summary and headline
- Links to your website and relevant sites
Also, keep in mind, some groups have rules for contact policies and contribution. Know the rules before making a mistake and jeopardizing a potential relationship.
5. Too pushy or demanding.
It should be seemingly “obvious,” but don’t ask for a recommendation or endorsement from a remote acquaintance or someone you don’t know! Asking a practical stranger to speak to your skills puts them in an awkward position, and likely won’t end well for you.
Another common mistake is asking your first-level connections to connect you with someone in their network when you don’t have a very strong relationship with your first-level connection, to begin with. Don’t abuse your relationships by asking for too much.
6. Being impersonal or generic.
If you choose to message a connection or potential connection via LinkedIn, personalize your message. It doesn’t take much effort, and the rewards are well worth it.
When you use a generic message, you’re implying you don’t value that person enough to build a genuine relationship, or you’re not willing to put in the time to get to know them. In other words, you’re just looking for quick access, to serve your interests.
Take time to write a customized salutation and include a personal touch showing the recipient you’ve chosen to speak specifically with them. Finally, don’t be overly casual by using “hey,” “hi” or skipping a greeting entirely.
7. Forgetting to say “thanks.”
When someone endorses or recommends you, thank them! Even better, take it a step further and return the favor. If a connection comments or shares your posts, be sure to express your gratitude.
Showing gratitude means more than just shooting a quick “thank you” — it’s also about giving back, including sharing posts, commenting, endorsing for skills, writing recommendations and congratulating on new jobs/positions. Remember the 80/20 rule!
8. Focusing on quantity over quality.
Having 3,000+ connections doesn’t necessarily mean you have the best network. You’ve probably received dozens, if not hundreds of unsolicited, random connection requests, from people you don’t know and have no common connections with.
Accepting every connection that comes your way, begins to dilute your feed, causing you to miss out on updates, posts, etc. from the people you actually want to hear from.
9. Not doing your homework.
Technology should make you smarter and more efficient, not the other way around. For example, LinkedIn will notify you when a connection has a new job. However, it could just be they changed the title or how it appears on their profile — it’s your job to do your homework before making a silly blunder like congratulating them on a “new” job.
Doing your homework also means researching and knowing your audience/connections before reaching out, especially if you’re asking something from them.
All nine of these networking mistakes share a few common themes:
- Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
- Think before you act.
- Give more than you take.
Learn more about how the most effective uses of LinkedIn: The Why and How of Outstanding LinkedIn Recommendations
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