Avoid LinkedIn Goofs

As you probably know, LinkedIn keeps changing–sometimes it seems as if that happens every time you turn around. However, that’s no excuse for letting yourself get so far behind the curve that your profile brands you as hopelessly out of touch.

10 Amateurish LinkedIn Blunders

According to a Forbes.com article by personal branding guru William Arruda, there are “10 LinkedIn Blunders That Make You Look Like an Amateur.” The first 5 have to do with content, and the remaining 5 concern your contacts.

1. No photo. Bad photo. Wrong photo.
2. Me-Too headline (using your current job title as your headline).
3. Using LinkedIn as a resume. (Create a summary that’s compelling and rich with relevant keywords.)
4. Only using words. (Embed appropriate images and videos into your profile).
5. Making it hard for people to learn more. (Make sure your Contact Info section is complete.)
6. Using the default “I’d like to add you to…” connection request. (Customize the message at least a bit.)
7. Having 499 or fewer contacts.
8. Sending mass LinkedIn mail that starts with “Hello… ”
9. Not using tags. (Organize your contacts by adding tags.)
10. Leaving fingerprints. (If doing confidential research, change your privacy setting to anonymous and then revert to your previous setting once you’re finished.)

The whole article is worth reading–and it’s not all that long.

What LinkedIn Blunders Are You Committing?

Take a good look at yourself and your involvement with LinkedIn. If you’re honest, you’ll probably find at least one of Arruda’s 10 on your list and maybe more.

As a resume writing/career coaching business owner, I know I’m guilty of #4 (very few graphics and no videos). The same with #7, although I’m getting close at this point. My challenge with increasing the number of contacts is that I prefer to balance quantity with quality–I don’t want to say that I’ll invite or accept invitations from anyone who’s breathing! I also haven’t tackled #9 yet, so that’s on my to-do list.

One goof that Arruda doesn’t mention but that occurred to me is this: If you open a LinkedIn account and settle for the default in everything or basically stop with the “bare bones skeleton” information, you’ve really done next-to-nothing. You certainly haven’t enhanced your online presence. In fact, leaving your profile in that shape is almost worse than not being there at all, because it indicates that you don’t take your professional visibility or online presence seriously.

Another point to mention is that if you build and maintain a robust LinkedIn profile over time–rather than just when you’re actively job searching–your current or future employers are less likely to think that you’re in a job search at any given moment. In other words, if they hire you when you have a strong profile, they shouldn’t suspect that you’re looking again if you keep it that way afterward. That’s much better than feeling on edge every time you update your profile.

Of course, you can and should turn off your activity notification feature when you update, whether or not you’re actively searching, especially if you do tweaks fairly often. That way you don’t annoy your network by blasting them with update notices every few days.

Like any other good career-building tool, your LinkedIn profile should be working for you 24×7, and it’s up to you to make sure that happens.

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