The Three Sins of LinkedIn (and How to Ensure they Don’t Detract from Your Greatness)

LinkedIn is an important tool in your business and your career, however, there are a few pitfalls I see people consistently making. The good news is they can be easily avoided. Ignore to your peril: at best, they may make you blend in and not get noticed. At worst, they will cost you your reputation and credibility.

Why is this so important to talk about?

  1. Social Media Savviness

We’re much more social media savvy. You may or may not feel that you’re in that camp, but many people are, and they have little tolerance for folks misusing sites. LinkedIn is a professional social media site. If you’re not using it as a true professional, people may see you as unprofessional.

  1. Ease of Disconnection

Also, LinkedIn offers its users easy ways to disconnect with you or even blocking you indefinitely. Once you are you are blocked, there is virtually no chance your profile will find its way back into a fellow professional’s life. If you’re really serious about maximizing the potential of social media, leveraging it to connect with the right people, expanding your network, growing your influence, you can’t take it lightly.

  1. It’s an Essential Branding Tool

The benefit of leveraging LinkedIn correctly is that it’s a great free branding tool; you can get connected to, begin conversations with and do business with people you meet through LinkedIn very easily. This only happens when they like your content and what you’re all about. If you want a job or promotion, there’s a good chance that Human Resources or someone in the hiring process is leveraging LinkedIn in a variety of ways. If you’re running a business, those who mainly leverage LinkedIn may take more stock in what you have on your profile than anywhere else.

  1. LinkedIn’s Capabilities are Growing

There’s so much more functionality to LinkedIn than there was, even a few years ago. You can improve your profile and stand out now through things like videos and articles. Fully utilizing these free, supportive branding tools allows you to demonstrate your thought leadership, value, and expertise!

Pitfalls of LinkedIn to Avoid

So, now we know the benefit of LinkedIn, let’s look at the most common pitfalls (and pet peeves) I see that detract from your greatness.

  1. Using LinkedIn as a Dating Site

LinkedIn is a professional network. Period. As soon as you use it for non-professional relationship connections of any kind, you not only wipe away any professionalism you have, there’s a good chance you will get blocked and reported. At least once a month (sometimes a few a week), I get folks reaching out looking for a romantic relationship. I find this insulting (“does all the hard work I’ve put into my education, credentialing and thought leadership count for less than my profile pic?) Even if it doesn’t make someone angry or insulted, it takes away from your professional credibility. No matter how much you like their “enchanting smile” or think you ”feel a special connection”, jump over to a more appropriate network to tell them so. There’s an App (or a few dozen) for that!

  1. Jumping to the Sale

At least weekly someone connects me with and immediately follows it up with a pitch. “I can turn your business around” or “I see you could improve your marketing”. It’s the equivalent to turning to the person behind you in the grocery line and saying, “hey I see you don’t know how to coordinate your clothes but I can tell you how!” You’d never do that! LinkedIn is not your personal sales funnel. Here are the problems when you treat it as such:

  • Folks are more likely to buy when they know, like and respect you. Cultivate this first
  • Pushing your technique or product is often intended to trigger FOMO (fear of missing out) – creating a buying decision based on fear isn’t sustainable
  • There is no context about the individual’s professional priorities so it could be a mismatch
  • If it’s a form letter or autoresponder that sends it out, it feels inauthentic – I am guessing there’s a low conversion rate

If you haven’t done your homework, you don’t know what my biggest issues are, you’re not aware what my annual priorities are (to see if there’s a match), you’re not able to leverage my greatest strengths, or even what I’m trying to do for the world, then why would we do business together? It takes time to cultivate this relationship I know, but this is where professional connections deepen and conversion rates soar. If it’s just one-sided, self-serving and pushy, I’m blocking you.

  1. Ignoring your Profile

Have you checked your profile lately?  Is it up to date and does it represent you well? Stagnant profiles with outdated headshots, employment histories, and outdated skills don’t serve you well. Not having testimonials, volunteer activities or sharing the odd post makes you look unprofessional. It might be better not to have a LinkedIn profile until you have the time and desire to update it. But the good news is, it only takes an afternoon to bring it up to speed.

And here’s a tip: If you want to make sure your pic is the most professional representation of you, try posting it on PhotoFeeler (on the business site) to get feedback and a rating, then post another, and another, until you get the one that represents you best. My profile pic was the fifth that I had evaluated and it’s fascinating what I thought others would prefer was actually different from what they picked!

I hope none of these pitfalls are ones that you fall into. If you do, then you’ve got some ideas from this information. There are some real thought leaders when it comes to making sure that your LinkedIn brand is amazing such as William Arruda (and did you know that Lewis Howes started his blockbuster career this way?) That’s how important a good LinkedIn presence is!

If you, like me, feel strongly about these three pitfalls, why not share this post? Let’s keep LinkedIn as the exciting, helpful and supportive professional networking tool it was designed to be! And while you’re at it, let’s connect!

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