We all know the power of the LinkedIn platform. Part of the social media mix, it’s definitely geared towards business owners and career professionals.
Unfortunately, users of the platform often make these common mistakes that hinder their success:
1. Grammatical Mistakes and Typos
All of your information is great; however, if there are some grammar issues and typos here and there, these errors will erode your credibility.
2. No Profile Picture
Not having a profile picture is a huge no-no. Be sure to upload a professional headshot. On LinkedIn, “professional” is the key.
3. Inappropriate Profile Picture
You did upload a profile picture, but it’s a cropped vacation picture or a photo that also has your spouse, partner, etc. in it. Another big no-no. Again, we’re focused on “professional.” Group photos have their place on Facebook, not LinkedIn.
4. A Boring Title
Under you name, LinkedIn will list your profile title. Yes, you may be a Sales Professional, but you could also describe yourself as “Enthusiastic Professional┃ Marketing & Sales Leader ┃10+ Years.” People are drawn to interesting titles, and this is a great place to summarize your selling points and excite your profile visitors.
5. A Generic Profile URL
LinkedIn provides every account with a personal URL. This is a long, ugly Web address. It’s time to customize your URL to a more personal address—specifically, to your name. Once you do so, you can use that URL on personal business cards and your resume.
The other benefit of a personal URL is the consistent branding it provides. By creating the same customized URL for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., you’re strengthening your brand and your page rank with search engines.
6. No Summary
The summary section on LinkedIn can be viewed the same as the summary section at the top of your resume (or the “About Us” section of your website, for business owners). You want to make sure that this section lists your skills and abilities in an exciting and upbeat way. This summary will determine if someone continues to read your profile.
7. Not Using Sections
LinkedIn provides sections for your information, from work experience to education to certifications to publications. Though you can just upload your resume to your profile, it makes for a difficult read—and it’s not searchable (big mistake). By using the sections, the reader can jump quickly to a particular section to learn more about you. Not using sections will almost guarantee a reader will not read your profile.
8. Your Skills? Well…
If you have a list of skills that aren’t recognized by LinkedIn, it means that you are not searchable on the site. For example, when entering your skills, if you type in the word “Sales,” LinkedIn will provide a drop-down list of potential matching terms. If you don’t choose from that list, your skill will most likely be unsearchable by recruiters.
You see, that drop-down list represents the most common search terms used by recruiters. If they use “Sales Director” and that’s not listed on your profile, your profile will not show up in their list of possible candidates. Always use the skills from the drop-down list that best represent you.
9. You Haven’t Joined Any Groups (Or Are Not Participating)
View LinkedIn groups as online networking. Join groups that are within your niche or target market, and then participate. Ask a question, start a discussion or participate in someone else’s discussion. It will show your expertise, but more importantly, people will see your name and profile title (you know, the new one you just created). Every member of the group receives a summary email of that day’s or week’s activity, so by participating, you’re getting your name out there in front of potentially hundreds of people.
10. You’re Using Canned Text
Just because LinkedIn provides the text when you request to connect with people, that doesn’t mean that you should use it. Remember, networking is all about the relationship. You will receive more responses to your connection requests when you personalize the message.
For example: “Hi Steve. It was great meeting you at [some place] on [day]. I would like to connect with you here on LinkedIn to stay in touch.” This way, you’re reminding the person that you’ve met and that you want to make a quality connection.
11. You’re Connecting with People Through the App
The LinkedIn app is definitely getting better, but you still want to be careful when sending out connection requests. Make sure you can edit the canned text that they provide; otherwise, you’ll appear spammy.
12. Being Too Obvious
So you decided to check out some profile pages, but you forgot to switch to “anonymous.” When you forget to do so, others know that you have viewed their profile. And if the person has a premium account with LinkedIn, they know when you viewed their account, too. If you don’t want them to think you’re stalking them, remember to go anonymous when you’re checking out the profile of the recruiter who will be interviewing you for a particular job.
13. (In)Credible Recommendations
It’s great to have a lot of recommendations. It’s not so great when they’re your friends and family just saying that you’re wonderful.
Credible recommendations should come from your manager, subordinates and/or customers. They should speak to how you work, your attention to detail and how they felt about the process of working with you. This is a chance for another person to describe you, so take it seriously, because their statement will carry more weight than anything you have listed in your profile.
14. Not Using Advanced Search or Company Pages
This is a big mistake by many job seekers. Not only can you click on the “Jobs” link in the toolbar of LinkedIn; you can also use the “Advanced Search” function. You can also go to a particular company’s page and check out their job listings. By conducting a search or checking out open positions on the company’s LinkedIn page, you will see who posted the position and if you have any connections in common. It’s all about who you know, right? Many companies list their job opportunities on LinkedIn first, before the other career sites. Take advantage of these options.
LinkedIn is a very powerful platform to use as your 24/7 promoter. Take advantage of all of the options, and you’re sure to find success.
Stephanie L. Jackson is the CEO of Blue Top Marketing, Inc., a social media marketing agency dedicated to assisting small business owners and career professionals in the how-tos of social media through webinars, workshops, seminars and boot camps. Connect with Blue Top Marketing on Facebook and Twitter.