Chances are if you have a job, then you also have a LinkedIn account. But it takes much more than just signing up for a profile, uploading a photo from Facebook and pasting in your resume to make the most of your online presence. With more than 43 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is a great way to network with recruiters and leaders at your dream company, ultimately putting yourself at an advantage when it’s time to apply for open positions. But if you’re “doing it wrong,” you may be creating a bad online rep.
Alison Green, workplace & management consultant and advice columnist at Ask a Manager, says that while LinkedIn faux pas may not be career deal breakers, they can still end up costing you.
“It’s more likely to be an opportunity cost, in that you’ll be sacrificing opportunities to network with interesting people who could end up being helpful to you, getting overlooked by recruiters, and so forth,” says Green.
Avoid scaring off professional contacts by conducting a quick audit of your profile to ensure you’re not committing one of these seven LinkedIn offenses.
Spamming for Recommendations
“Recommending someone for a job is the same as saying, ‘I have experience with this person’s work and will put my own reputation on the line to vouch for it,'” says Green. That means don’t ask someone you met once at a networking event, or worse, a random connection, to be your cheerleader. Green explains it can do more harm than good to ask for a recommendation from someone you’ve never worked with. “Plus it can really backfire, since when you get a recommendation, you want it to be glowingly positive, not ‘This person is connected to me on LinkedIn.'”
Thinking You’re All That
Of course you want to be confident about your success, but drop the boastful adjectives.”Calling yourself a visionary leader or exceptional communicator or other really subjective self-assessments is a good way to make your profile look like fluff and to lose credibility,” says Green. She advises letting your successes speak for themselves. “If those things are true about you, your accomplishments should make that clear,” Green asserts.
Sending Generic Connection Requests
LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people you would like to know, but Green warns against sending requests to people you don’t know without any context of why you should be professional acquaintances. “You can certainly use LinkedIn to expand your network, but If you try to connect with someone who has no idea who you are and you don’t bother to include a note explaining why you’d like to connect, you’re probably going to annoy that person and they’ll delete your request,” explains Green.
Including Your Girlfriend in Your Profile Photo
Your LinkedIn profile is a reflection of you, and your photo should mirror that by focusing solely on you and no one else. Green says the worst photos she’s seen are those that include spouses or kids. While you don’t need to hire a professional photographer, you should choose a fairly professional headshot that includes your face and possibly the tops of your shoulders—as long as they’re not bare!
Confusing LinkedIn for Tinder
Even if you’ve swiped through everyone in your area on Tinder, LinkedIn should never be used to cruise for dates. Green has heard many stories of women receiving messages from strangers or distant contacts complimenting them on their looks. Guys, that’s just creepy. Keep your messages direct and professional and never write anything that can be confused as flirtatious. If it isn’t already obvious, “People generally don’t want business contacts assessing their attractiveness or sizing them up as a potential date,” warns Green.
Sounding like a Robot
While LinkedIn is a professional rather than a social site, you don’t want to sound like a corporate robot. Write a summary that’s conversational (think about how you’d explain your work to a friend) and avoid overly formal language. Green explains you’ll have a much more compelling profile than one that’s full of business jargon.
Thinking Endorsements = Recommendations
You may have racked up loads of endorsements for your spreadsheet skills, but Green says they don’t matter. “Those endorsements carry no weight and have zero credibility, because people can endorse you for any skill with the click of a button, without knowing anything about the quality of your work or ever having worked with you,” says Green.