LinkedIn is a great platform for professional networking. But what about LinkedIn etiquette? Are there certain rules you should follow? We think so. Here are 16 LinkedIn dos and don’ts to help you get the most out of the time you spend on LinkedIn.
Complete 100% of your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is one of the best searchable databases of business professionals and your profile may be your only chance to make a first impression. If you want to build relationships, make sure that your information is complete and current. LinkedIn helps with this and walks you through it. Just follow the steps.
Research before you connect
Before you request a connection with someone, do a little bit of homework. You’ll see that people provide tons of guidance within their LinkedIn profiles regarding what to contact them about and how. If you’re the one initiating contact, communicate on their terms and make it relative to them.
Use LinkedIn as part of your sales process
Connecting with people on LinkedIn shouldn’t be an afterthought. Make it part of your sales process and proactively connect with existing and potential clients, networking contacts, strategic alliances and more.
Personalize your connection requests
Take the time to personalize your message when requesting to connect with someone. You don’t have to write a lengthy letter (in fact, LinkedIn won’t let you). Short and sweet will work just fine.
Organize your LinkedIn contacts
As the number of your connections grows, you may find that all the names start to run together. Keep it organized by using “tags” to identify certain contacts.
Join 5 active LinkedIn groups
LinkedIn groups are a great way to network and build new relationships. Do some research and join 5 active LinkedIn groups to attract the people you want. Get the most out of these groups by sharing valuable content and interacting with others 2-3 times a week.
Customize your LinkedIn news
Customize your LinkedIn news based on the industries and sources that matter to you. This is a great way to stay on top of what’s going on in your industry and to find great content to share with your connections.
Devote 10 minutes to LinkedIn each day
LinkedIn can become a powerful tool if you use it consistently. Take 10 minutes each day for LinkedIn. Send a connection request, respond to messages, catch up on the latest industry news or post something.
Use LinkedIn as your formal resume
LinkedIn is not meant to be a stuffy resume. Your profile should be professional, but also reflect your personality and tell your story. Don’t copy and paste your resume into your LinkedIn profile and call it a day.
Use canned invitations
LinkedIn makes it very easy to connect with others. They even include suggested text that you can use with your invitation. As appealing as it may sound, don’t send out canned invitations. Refer to number 4 on our “dos” list above. Make it personal. People are people. Not machines.
Send mass messages
Although your fingers may be itching to send a blast email to 500 of your LinkedIn contacts about a new service you are offering, don’t. It may be exciting news to you. To most, however, it is spam. Focus on building relationships with individual LinkedIn contacts, not your entire LinkedIn rolodex.
Use LinkedIn to do a sales pitch
LinkedIn is a great tool to make an introduction. But, don’t lead with a lengthy sales pitch before you shake hands. Networking on LinkedIn is similar to networking in real life. Would you walk up to someone and immediately start selling them on your product or service? Probably not.
Accept invitations from people you don’t know
How many times have you received an invitation to connect from someone who is completely meaningless to you? Do you accept these invitations? You probably shouldn’t – unless they include a personal note to explain why they are reaching out to you. These meaningless connections often lead to a slew of marketing messages later. Who wants that?
Spam LinkedIn Groups with sales messages
The purpose of LinkedIn groups is to add value and share information with other members. If you’re going to post something to the group, make sure that it’s valuable to the group and not completely self-serving.
Just like in real life, relationships take time. Set the right expectations for LinkedIn. Just because you built your LinkedIn profile today, that doesn’t mean that new connections and leads are going to start flowing in tomorrow. Work at it. Be patient with it. Eventually, you will see results.
If you’re on LinkedIn, be open to new connections. Don’t make it hard for people to reach out to you. If you do, you may be missing out on some great opportunities. When completing your profile, for example, add your email address and other contact info.
We hope these dos and don’ts help you get the most out of LinkedIn. If we missed anything, let us know in the comments below.