It’s no secret: When used correctly, LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful platform for growing your network of professional contacts. But, take notice—used correctly are the operative words in that sentence.
Of course, there isn’t some sort of formal manual detailing all of the rules, regulations, and manners involved in being a polite and courteous LinkedIn user. However, if you want to maintain a positive professional reputation with your online network, it’s important to be aware of the commonly accepted etiquette rules associated with the platform.
Not sure what’s simply friendly and what’s a LinkedIn faux pas? Implement these six tips and you’re sure to avoid irking or irritating any of your connections.
1. Personalize Invitations
Unlike some people, I’m totally open to connecting with people I haven’t personally met before—it’s a networking site, after all.
Skip the form message and take the minute or two to put in something short and personal.
However, I do have some criteria when determining which invitations I’ll accept. I’ll only add a person to my network if he or she took the time to customize the invitation message, rather than leaving in that dreaded and generic “Julie wants to add you to her professional network on LinkedIn” auto-fill.
When you neglect to customize a connection request—particularly if you don’t actually know the person you’re reaching out to—the recipient is left wondering who you are and why you’re aiming to connect.
So, skip the form message and take the minute or two to put in something short and personal. It makes a world of difference!
Tip: Don’t connect using the “People You May Know” section of LinkedIn. If you use this, LinkedIn automatically sends invitations without giving you the opportunity to customize your request.
2. Avoid Over Posting
Yes, LinkedIn is a social network. But because it’s geared toward professionals, it’s arguably less social than platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
So, you need to pull in the reins on the amount of updates you share or you’ll run the risk of looking like you’re spamming your connections. In fact, many different studies and social media experts maintain that once per day is the post maximum for sharing on LinkedIn. When in doubt, remember that less is more. Plus, that means that the things you do post will have much more of an impact.
3. Be Genuine
One of the great things about LinkedIn is that it provides the opportunity to endorse or recommend your connections. This is a great tactic for elevating your past colleague’s professional reputations. However, whenever endorsing a connection or writing a recommendation, you need to ensure it’s sincere.
What does that mean? Well, to put it simply, only endorse people for skills that you’re certain they possess and only author recommendations for people who you believe truly deserve them.
While we undoubtedly all know those people who appear to bombard every single one of their connections with random endorsements, don’t feel like you need to turn around and return the favor. Always be honest and genuine with the people you choose to recommend or endorse—the action will carry much more weight.
4. Use a Professional Photo
I’ll be the first to admit that this one seems obvious—which is why I’m shocked to see how many people still use a Halloween snapshot or a random, grainy candid as their LinkedIn profile photo.
As this heatmap study conducted by career site TheLadders demonstrates, your photo is the first thing profile viewers—recruiters and hiring managers included—look at when landing on your profile page.
So, make sure your profile photo is crisp and professional that clearly shows your face. And, of course, don’t skip adding a photo altogether. You wouldn’t go to a networking event with a bag over your head, would you?
5. Don’t Be a Pest
Whether it’s a hiring manager or an industry leader you really admire, there’s somebody that you desperately want to connect with on LinkedIn. When your invitation isn’t accepted after three days, you decide to withdraw it and re-send again—and then you do the same thing four more times over the course of the next few weeks.
Believe me, I understand how tempting this can be when you’re eager to make a connection with someone. However, this isn’t a tactic you want to utilize.
Why? Well, LinkedIn is pretty good about sending reminders when people have connection requests pending. So, this likely means that either this person has a huge stockpile of unanswered requests she needs to wade through or she’s still uncertain about whether or not to accept your invitation.
Resist the urge to keep re-sending the invite and just sit tight. You don’t want to cross the fine line between being persistent and being a pest.
6. Be Careful When Updating
You just read an article about ways to update your LinkedIn profile, and now you’re eager to make some changes to your own page. But, wait—there’s something you need to do first.
Log into LinkedIn, head to your profile, and then look at the right sidebar. You should see a box about notifying your network. Make sure that toggle is switched to “No”.
Otherwise, you’ll clog up all of your connections’ feeds with tons of random updates—including those new skills and old job descriptions you went back and refined. Not only is this somewhat obnoxious, but it also makes it obvious that you just went in and did a mass makeover of your profile.
Make sure the setting is switched to off, and you’ll avoid annoying your connections—as well as skip receiving all of those “Congratulations!” messages on a promotion that actually happened ages ago.
Tip: If you’ve recently accepted a new position and are adding it to your profile, this would be a worthy time to turn the switch back to “Yes.” Remember, LinkedIn is about networking, and there’s no shame in letting your connections know about your next endeavor!
LinkedIn is an awesome way to elevate your professional brand. However, you don’t want to charge ahead without knowing the etiquette rules you should be following. Remember to implement these six key tips, and you’re sure to not ruffle any feathers with your network.
Are there any we missed? What other LinkedIn etiquette rules or pet peeves would you add to this list?