Unlike Facebook and the like, LinkedIn is a social network for professionals with over 51 million members in over 200 countries. Working like a sophisticated online business card, members from those new to the workforce all they way to CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies utilize the free service. However, there is a right and wrong way to do it, and below are the top ten rules of LinkedIn Etiquette for Business professionals.
#1 Bad Profile Picture
Professionals who choose to post a picture of themselves on LinkedIn should keep the same frame of mind. Although everyone loves to see pictures of children, it can send the wrong image when looking for a professional online. Other mistakes, such as bad lighting, posing, misleading shots, and others can be fairly obvious, but still manage to happen. It may even be worth hiring a professional photographer to make sure it is done right.
It may be tempting to embellish that resume or bio on LinkedIn, but it is important to remember that anyone can see it. This includes both current and former colleagues and bosses, who can shine a light on any inconsistencies. It is much easier to erase a little white lie before you post, rather than after it has been exposed.
#3 Catch Them With a Headline
Ever passed on an article because the headline didn’t grab you? The same rules apply to LinkedIn etiquette. Taking the time to craft a catchy and memorable summary can make all the difference. This site can help with headline guides, formulas, and more.
#4 Status Updates
Walking a fine line between too many and too few status updates on any social networking sites can be difficult, and LinkedIn is no different. A good rule to have in mind is to keep updates professional. Whether discussing a project, event, etc. these can actually be helpful and show your network that you are engaged. Only update every other day or so and only with relevant comments.
#5 Utilize Links
Although LinkedIn allows you to post a link to up to three websites, many users simply title them My Company or My Blog. Because neither is tantalizing, get creative when naming the sites you link back to and entice the viewer to click on them. There are also widgets such as The Profile Widget or Company Insider to help even more.
#6 Get Recommendations
Whether from a supervisor, colleague, subordinate, or even client, positive recommendations can make a big difference. Only display once you have 3 or more. As with most things, having too much can turn off possible connections and make you seem too needy. When asking for them, be sure to include a personal note as to why and what you would like to avoid the standard, boring recommendations.
#7 Introductions Are In Order
As a LinkedIn member, you may receive or send Requests for Introductions (RfI) to other members. When receiving them, be sure you trust whoever is sending them or ask a follow up question before accepting to avoid spam and scams. If sending a request for an introduction, be sure you ask your connection prior so that they know why and be more inclined to accept your request.
#8 App It Up
LinkedIn has added nine different applications, similar to those on other social networking sites, to help your profile stand out some more. When used correctly and in the right doses, they can help you with travel, blogging, workspaces and more. There is even a Google and SlideShare presentation app to help you share your work straight from your profile. Also look at Box.net to show off your non-presentation files (post as PDFs if possible).
SEO, or search engine optimization, can help others find a profile such as “sales” or “real estate.” By repeating these words, you can increase the chances that a search engine such as Google will retrieve your profile. However, using the same words over and over can be confusing once you do get the traffic you desire. Try and keep a balance when utilizing SEO.
This is a little harder if your name is John Smith, but those with unique and unusual names can grab an easy and memorable URL on LinkedIn. It is very useful if the contact you are speaking with doesn’t have anything to write with or if someone wants to see your LinkedIn profile without having to paste in a long link. If your name is John Smith, try a URL such as JohnAtBlankCompany.
Useful for both a job search or building a network with a broad reach, LinkedIn can be a massively useful tool when used correctly and utilizing these top ten rules of LinkedIn etiquette for business professionals.
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