A LinkedIn profile is like a CV or resume that you have online so that people can easily find you and know more about you if they choose to do so. In the last six months there has been an influx of "fake profiles" who are looking for connections, spamming groups, and sending out messages with just links back to their sites. A lot of us use LinkedIn to work and grow our business network.
Throughout the past years that I've been on LinkedIn, I keep seeing a professional network growing and lapsing into just another social network. The number of users have increased to a whopping 55 million plus by the end of 2009. Those who are serious about LinkedIn keep their profiles clean and network with a purpose. LinkedIn is there to build professional connections and growing your business network. So mistakes are a big no-no, especially the following 7 unforgivable sins:
1. Your LinkedIn profile has no photograph
We live in a multimedia world, we like the Internet because it offers a personal touch. We like knowing what the person on the other end looks like. Make sure you have a professional smiling photo and not in some weird costume cap. Stock images or images that came with Windows are also easy to spot, it's better to have no photo rather than looking at a photo that you might not have the license to displaying. Remember, this is your face, your photographic representation we're talking about.
2. Spelling mistakes and typos galore
There's really no excuse for spelling mistakes or typos on your profile any more than on your resume. Would you have your resume with a bunch of spelling mistakes, letters without any cases, or worse, typed in like an SMS? Check your profile and make sure the formatting is right, don't just put stuff in it. Even when you get recommendations from people, don't put it up unless you've checked spelling and grammar. You can always politely point out the typos.
3. Your LinkedIn profile has no connections
It's OK not to have a lot of connections if you just finished school; your profile would say that. But if you're in a senior management position for an Internet company with little or no connections, it begs the question what your business is really all about. It also raise questions as to whether or not you're even real, which gets us to our next point...
4. You're using a fake LinkedIn profile
Fake profiles are easier to spot than you think. It's also very hard to come up with a fake profile. It takes a lot of creativity and energy to make sure the person is who they really say they are. If you're marketing on LinkedIn, it's going to always be business-to-business. What's the point of using a fake profile then? Once you're found out, it'll create not just mistrust but a bad reputation, too. Having a company's profile or profiles with the name "Recruiter Company-X" doesn't really make sense. If you want an official company profile, you should get your company a LinkedIn company profile. LinkedIn has different places for different things, use those to your advantage.
5. You haven't updated your profile
The Internet operates on a real-time basis. It's understandable that if you just joined a new job that your profile might not be updated but if your LinkedIn profile doesn't match your resume, how can a company asses your Internet skills? A lot of people also have the habit of updating their profile right before an interview and start asking for recommendations, and start connecting again with people. Those people are just annoying. In the business world, you need to be connected with your key network no matter what.
6. You copied and pasted
Plagiarism is something that can get you expelled in school. In the professional world, it means that you have no credibility and if it's a serious copy pasting job, it can get your company in a law suit. Write your own advice if you're writing in group discussions or the LinkedIn Q&A section. The most common copy-pasting I've seen are on people's recommendations. It's OK if the person reciprocates recommendations but when both of them look the same, it looks a bit fishy. Write your own original recommendations by thinking about the person and what he or she did that was remarkable and outstanding. Make is specific and with numbers if possible - concentrate on accomplishments. Don't just write, "He is a very professional person," we're all 'very professional'.
7. You don't introduce yourself when you're adding people
When you're active in forums, discussion groups, and in the real world people get a lot of connection requests. If the person is a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) they'll forgo the formalities and add you. For the rest of the people on LinkedIn, they don't really have the time to add Tom, Dick and Harry. A personalized introduction makes all the difference. Otherwise you'll not be connected and will be marked as "Do not know this person". Ask yourself why you're connecting to that person. Did you meet them? Did you read their blog? Are you interested in getting their expertise or offering them their services? Write that, make sure you have the person's name right. Give them a reason to connect to you. What's in it for them?