When it comes to LinkedIn, lots of people tell you what you should be doing, but what about what you shouldn’t be doing?
LinkedIn is not just the place to find the right people but also to be found. Therefore, you need a LinkedIn profile that not only helps you get found but also will entice people to connect with you once they view your profile.
“Active participation on LinkedIn is the best way to say, ‘Look at me!’ without saying ‘Look at me!”
– Bobby Darnell, Principal of Construction Market Consultants
I see many people making fundamental LinkedIn profile mistakes on their LinkedIn that hugely impact their professional networking on the platform. If you’re spending your precious time putting together a LinkedIn profile, I assume you really want to maximize your opportunities of being connected with the right people on LinkedIn, right?
Keeping that in mind, I’ve listed down some of the specific LinkedIn mistakes which can easily be avoided, so that you can get the most out of LinkedIn.
1. Having an Incomplete LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn offers a set of comprehensive sections that all provide you with the opportunity to showcase your expertise, skills, accomplishments, interests and current links to your business sites.
If you keep those sections incomplete or skimpy, it can send a negative message about your brand credibility. It can create a bad impression on your personality that you just don’t care, or you don’t follow through and finish things. That’s why I put this point at the top of my LinkedIn mistakes list.
Even though if you don’t need to fill out all the sections, makesure to complete the main sections to give a well-rounded profile view of your LinkedIn headline, summary, post activities, experience, skills, endorsements, education and other additional information.
2. Having an Inappropriate Headshot
The most primary thing people will first notice is your LinkedIn profile picture (Headshot). You know what? Within seven seconds a person will make several judgments about who you are which means you have only a few seconds to make a good first impression. And that is well-apt for your LinkedIn profile picture as well. So, now you understood why keeping an inappropriate headshot is one of the major LinkedIn mistakes, right?
Remember, an unprofessional or inappropriate profile picture is an immediate perception killer and a connection killer. As LinkedIn is a professional networking site with a bunch of professional and academic people, makesure your profile picture portrays the image that you want to be aligned with.
For example, consider the following two images as two LinkedIn profiles. One person, you might want to party with. But which person would you hire as an employee or consultant, and entrust with your most important business concerns? Hope, now you got your answer!
3. Failing to Personalize Your Profile URL
LinkedIn allows you to personalize your LinkedIn URL by including your name, instead of gibberish numbers.
If you want to promote your LinkedIn profile in your community, the best way to do that is with a customized profile URL that reflects your name or business name rather than the default string of numbers that are assigned to your LinkedIn account when you join LinkedIn. This one of the main LinkedIn mistakes that may make People wonder about your seriousness as you don’t take the few minutes to set up a personalized profile URL.
To personalize your LinkedIn profile URL, just follow these below steps:
1) Hover your mouse over the Profile link in the top navigation bar and then click Edit Profile option.
2) Below your profile picture, you can see a URL that starts with https://www.linkedin.com/in/. Click the Edit link option next to the URL.
3) Scroll down until you see Your Public Profile URL header along the right side of the screen.
4) Click the Customize Your Public Profile URL link. Then enter your own custom URL (start from 5 to 30 characters) in the text box. Mostly, people use a combination of their first and last names or their business name. You can enter letters and numbers only, cannot use spaces, symbols, or any other special characters.
5) Click the blue Set Custom URL button to save your entry and change your LinkedIn profile URL. After this point, your old URL is no longer functional, so make sure you update any references that include your LinkedIn URL.
4. Providing Inaccurate Career Information
This point shouldn’t need to be said but, unfortunately, it does. Never lie or fabricate your career information in your LinkedIn profile experience section. Jenifer DeLoach, who supervises background checks for corporate clients at Kroll Inc stated that “about 20% of job seekers and employees undergoing background checks by their companies are found to have exaggerated their educational credentials. Those seeking jobs usually get turned down when discrepancies appear.”
Never pad your resume. If you didn’t do something then don’t post about it. If you kind of did something don’t inflate to make it sound better. Trust me guys, it’s one of the huge LinkedIn mistakes that will make you regret forever. Because somebody will eventually find out the truth and when they do, your career in that industry will essentially be over.
Therefore, it’s always best to tell the truth about whatever you have done and accomplished. Also, learn to celebrate what you have achieved, not what you wish you’d achieved.
5. Not Including Brief Job Descriptions
Even if you’ve listed positions at companies that you previously worked, it means nothing if you don’t have any job descriptions. Because when you leave out dates and descriptions of your prior jobs it makes them seem like they didn’t really exist or it may seem like you are trying to hide something. So, don’t commit this mistake from the LinkedIn mistakes list.
Always, provide accurate dates and a simple description of your real jobs and your contributions that unfolds your career story and the skill sets you’ve delivered. These job descriptions also provide you with the perfect opportunity to pepper your profile with keywords that will help you get found. Why aren’t you taking advantage of this?
6. Not Frequent Status Updates
Consistently showing up is the way to make people get to know us, in all our activities, whether at office or gym, in the social and community activities or even enjoying our favourite hobbies like singing and dancing with others, it’s important to maintain the consistency.
The same way, the more regular and consistent we are on LinkedIn, the more people will expect to see our activity. In nutshell, once in a blue moon appearance won’t work on LinkedIn because too much time in-between your LinkedIn activity updates will interrupt your networking and relationship building.
Also, it seems like you are not serious about being on LinkedIn. So, be consistent even if it’s three to four times a week, it will help you to establish a strong connection on LinkedIn and you can contribute to other’s activities on LinkedIn as well.
7. Doing Over Posting on LinkedIn
The flip side of not frequent status updates is “Doing Over Posting”. And these two LinkedIn mistakes should be avoided. Fast Company shared a guide on how often to post on LinkedIn and other social channels.
According to it, if you look at the top influencer like Richard Branson’s LinkedIn profile, you can see he publishes his articles on a weekly basis and does short updates 2 to 3 times in a day. In my opinion, that’s a good formula to follow. But, you can find and follow your own formula which is convenient for you.
8. Not Personalizing Your LinkedIn Connection Requests
Each time you press “connect” on someone’s LinkedIn profile, an automatic message is sent to them that says something like: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” This cold and generic message isn’t likely to improve your opportunities of actually connecting with people.
Therefore, it’s really good to take the time to research your potential connections and personalize your message to them, so they know you took the time to get to know them. Include something specific that you know about them. It will be highly appreciated. Here’s an example of how to do that:
“I enjoyed reading your latest blog “Top 10 Powerful LinkedIn Automation Tools for Maximize Your Lead Generation Efforts in 2020” and I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
Here’s another example, this time a little more in-depth:
“Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge about LinkedIn through your blogs & webinars. I’m looking forward to meeting you sooner. Congratulations on your new Startup, that’s truly exciting. I’ll be on the lookout for its official launch.”
9. Connect to People and Sell Immediately
Don’t connect with people and then immediately send them your sales pitch. It’s one of the terrible LinkedIn mistakes. Remember, a relationship first. People don’t want to know your latest offers in your business or on your website as soon as they connect with you. Be patient and engage to build your commonalities by getting involved in their LinkedIn activities and comment on their posts.
Otherwise, you’ll make your new connections to regret their decision to accept your connection request. It’s always good to build your way up to sales activity after you have earned some trust and developed a good professional relationship with your connections.
10. Asking for Recommendations/Endorsements from People You Barely Know
If you need an introduction with a person, look at the common connections that you have on LinkedIn and reach out to somebody you actually know and are connected to, then ask that person to give you an intro with the person that you want to connect. I sometimes reach out to people this way to invite them to be a guest speaker on my webinars.
This is completely different from sending a request to someone you met once at a conference or networking event, then asking that person to endorse your skills or recommend your services. How would that person know enough about your skills and services to give an endorsement or recommendation? It’s totally unreasonable, never do it. Get the endorsements and recommendations from the people who are well aware of your skills and services.
11. Sending Spammy Direct Messages
Never send uninvited, promotional direct messages through LinkedIn to people, whether you’ve just connected or have been connected for years, it’s a relationship faux pas to send irrelevant messages to your connections. By irrelevant messages, I mean those messages that people send out which are not personalized in any way or totally irrelevant to that specific connection.
For example, if your connection is not in an eCommerce industry, it makes absolutely no sense to send them a message telling them that you’ll provide budget-friendly dropshipping services for their eCommerce. We usually get irritated when we get spam messages, so, don’t send it to others.
12. Posting Negative Comments on LinkedIn
Remember, LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, so, never post negative, emotionally-controversial or shocking comments on others posts or in groups. It’s one of the must-avoid LinkedIn mistakes.
Also, it’s always best to stay away from politics, religion and sexuality topics. And talking about these topics never going to give you any business benefits, therefore it’s safe to stay away from them.
If you have a different opinion or a contrarian view, state it professionally, it will be highly welcomed.
13. Being Self Serving in LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn groups should be where like-minded people get together to exchange their, knowledge, ideas and information. If you’re joining groups on LinkedIn, it’s an opportunity to become a part of the insightful conversations and share valuable knowledge, not to pitch and sell your business.
Follow the conversations in the groups; add value by sharing your knowledge and ideas. But, don’t use LinkedIn groups to promote your self-serving interests. You can still, use LinkedIn groups for your advantage by demonstrating your expertise knowledge and add value to the group conversations.
14. Not Including Your Websites Links on Your Profile.
Contrary to the above point, you can be a little self-serving in your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a great hub to organize and post all your links and information. Sure, people could search all around the Web to find information about your websites, your blog, your social media channels and so on. But, why make them search? When you can provide them with all the details in one platform. And it’s okay to talk about yourself on your profile.
15. Using LinkedIn Like Other Social Media Channels
We need to understand LinkedIn is NOT Facebook or any other social media channels. It’s a professional networking platform that features professional business content to educate and inform people to facilitate their professional networking and career.
When you’re posting on LinkedIn, makesure the content is repute as a source of reliable and credible business information. Also, you can enhance the text message by adding images and videos that best demonstrate your text message. Even I added this one as my last point, this is one of the must-avoid LinkedIn mistakes. So, consider this point as much serious as other 14 points.
LinkedIn is indeed the perfect platform to build your personal brand and reputation, along with creating your key professional connections. It all depends on how you use it. If you use LinkedIn in the best way possible by telling your professional story and showcasing your expertise, you can able to build true and authentic professional relationships that you will find valuable. On the other hand, if you use LinkedIn as a free marketing space, you’ll likely be disappointed with the results that you receive at the end. The below quote from the Co-Founder of LinkedIn also demonstrate the same:
“If you can get better at your job, you should be an active member of LinkedIn, because LinkedIn should be connecting you to the information, insights and people to be more effective.”
–Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn
I hope the above list of what not to do on LinkedIn helps you to learn about what you should do on LinkedIn. Like I said before, if you present yourself professionally on LinkedIn in an authentic way, LinkedIn can be a great experience for you!