When I joined LinkedIn way back when, I loved the concept. Here, I would network with people and businesses, and perhaps land some clients from time-to-time. Every morning I would check my feed for the latest business, tech, and inspirational news, taking in more data than a scientist in the 50's. Yes, those were the good ol' days.
Now, the Facebook for business is starting to turn into, well ... Facebook. The lines are blurring and we must, as a responsible community of business leaders take action. I implore you all to get behind the #thisisnotfb movement on LinkedIn, if you see someone chipping away the Teflon suit known as LinkedIn. This simply means using the hashtag on content that doesn't belong. Together, we can stop the issues I'm about to list, and take back our social media site!
So, what shouldn't you be doing here? Let's examine, shall we?
1. Personal Posts
I'll be the first to say congratulations if you get engaged, get a new puppy, or have a child. However, I shouldn't find out about these events in your life through LinkedIn. Some even take their personal updates a step further, posting their meals, and haircuts. If you're going to post to LinkedIn, treat it like an office. Inform, entertain, and have some laughs, but you're on the clock, so keep it professional.
In the real world: Would you pull out pictures of your food and show the people at the meeting what you ate for lunch? Perhaps in select cases, but not as a rule.
2. Repeated Canned Posts
"I make websites. I make websites. I make websites. I make websites."
Do you think the person posting "I make websites," has something to do with the website development industry? When you constantly post the same content over and over again, people will notice, and your posts will come off like the sentence above. You're just standing there in a room repeating yourself. You can't be on LinkedIn to simply get clients or make money. It is a community of business people. Share your professional thoughts, advice, and on occasion, your services. But, while you do that, please be original. Post the content in your voice, not that of a billboard.
In the real world: Would you repeat yourself a hundreds times to the same people, and provide no personality or benefit?
3. Connecting with Every and Anybody
Quantity of connections doesn't mean much on LinkedIn. This isn't a popularity contest. Sending out connection requests to every person within a general search is just not the way to do it on LinkedIn. Start by connecting with those you know, then connect with people who's services or products you're interested in. Then start connecting with the people whom you think could use your products or services. When that's done, you're done ... although it is unlikely you'll ever run out of people to connect with.
In the real world: Would you walk up to just anyone and start pitching without any basis to do so?
We get it, you love Trump. That's fantastic that you have a candidate and cause you can get behind, but LinkedIn is not the place to constantly shove political conversation down everyone's throats. Now, if a policy or candidate's announcement relates to something that could affect business, that's cool. But, hardcore politics is best left to discuss on other platforms.
In the real world: Would you go into someone's office and start talking about politics?
5. You're Here to Better Your Business
Don't get angry and sass those that reach out to you trying to get you to buy what they're selling. It is a professional networking site after all. Now, if someone tries to sell you on a new website, but it is clear your site is just fine, perhaps you can suggest for those people to target potential clients better, but be polite.
"Hey Don. I hope your business is going well. We don't require your service at this time, but I'll keep you in mind if we do." Then, actually keep that person in mind if they've impressed you. Some of my best business relationships have started on LinkedIn.
In the real world: Would you give someone hell for politely proposing doing business together?
6. Profiles vs Company Pages
I will immediately deny a LinkedIn connection if it comes from a company. Profiles are for people, company pages are from companies. If you can't get the first rule of LinkedIn right, I immediately think you're going to be posting selfies. Next.
In the real world: Would you introduce yourself by name, or strictly by company? People don't buy products and services solely. They also buy into the person representing them.
I want to work with someone that has a fantastic eye for detail. Knowing that a person has this quality means that in all likelihood, they will be great to work with. That said, make sure you have proper spelling and grammar, and that your name is capitalized. These are the first two variables that many will look at when checking out your profile. You're a professional, so present yourself accordingly.
In the real world: Would you hand someone a business card that says, "john smith, attourney-in-the-law"?
8. Profile Photos
This is not a dating site, and your wife or husband may be a specimen but if I have to bring up either with you, then your profile photo is all wrong. Make it a headshot, or an accomplishment shot. Cleavage will attract all the wrong attention, muscle pictures are reserved for only the personal trainers or professionals that need to display their hard work, and family shots are for Facebook.
In the real world: Would you walk into an office building in that bent in pose, or with your spouse on your arm?
9. Personal Messages
If you're going to send me a message, make sure it at the very least has my name in it. Personalized messages get personalized responses. If you're sending the message to everyone, and not even bothering to look at who you're sending it to, that negligence will show.
In the real world: Would you talk to every person the exact same way, and not personalize the conversation?
I should be able to go on your profile, and in a couple of minutes, figure out what you do, what you've done, whether anyone believes in you, and what you can do for me (with personality). If your profile falls short on any of these items, you need to optimize.
In the real world: Would you have a meeting without discussing the details?
I would love to see LinkedIn have some sort of feature that suggests edits, or down-votes content for falling outside of professional parameters. What a glorious digital world that would be. For now, it's up to us to clean up our LinkedIn habits, to ensure a healthy online eco-system we can all get behind.
By the way; I see the irony in using #thisisnotfb, however, it's that irony that gives it power. Cheers to a better LinkedIn experience!
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Written by: Jay Hall - Chief Strategist