Recently, I signed up for a LinkedIn Premium account. As a result, I’ve noticed an increase in people who have viewed my profile. It’s also allowed me to view a lot more full profiles, and I’ve started receiving far more connection requests from strangers.
LinkedIn is the place where I should be making new business connections. The problem doesn’t lie in the increase in requests, it lies in the fact that I don’t know these people. Why would an engineer in India or telecommunications analyst in the Philippines want to connect with a marketing professional in Toronto? Good question, and one I can’t answer… because neither of these individuals told me why they wanted to connect with me.
Which brings me to the first of five common LinkedIn errors I’ve seen recently.
Error #1 – If I don’t know you, tell me why you want to connect with me
LinkedIn pre-populates a message that allows you to simply push a button and send your connection request to anyone in the world, without typing a single word. If I already know you, or if we share a number of connections within our community, I’ll most often accept this request.
However, if I don’t know you, I want a reason to connect. Perhaps that telecommunications professional saw something in my profile we have in common. Maybe that engineer in India and I could have started a global engineering/marketing empire. Unfortunately, we’ll never know… simply because neither of these people told me the benefits of connecting with them.
Error #2 – Hey, is that your cat?
LinkedIn is for professional networking. So why do so many people use unprofessional photos? A clear, professional headshot is not that difficult to obtain, and if you can’t afford a professional photographer, find a particularly talented friend. Dress up a little, and make sure the picture is in focus. And please, avoid the following:
- iPhone pics
- Pictures of your pets, children, your last vacation, candids of you and your besties at the pub last weekend or a particularly pretty landscape shot
- No photo at all. The standard photo box makes your profile look incomplete. The last thing you want potential employers or clients to think is that you leave projects half-finished
Some people are concerned about privacy or potential discrimination issues that a photo may open them up to. Unfortunately, that can sometimes be true. But the truth is, even if the interviewer hasn’t seen your LinkedIn picture, they’ve judged your appearance even before you’ve opened your mouth when you show up for your interview.
Error #3 – Check Your Spelling and Grammar
This should be self-explanatory. Having spelling and grammatical errors is the akin to having these same errors on your résumé – it looks sloppy and won’t get you further than the virtual waste paper basket. Asking someone to proofread your profile is smart.
Error #4 -Over-used adjectives and jargon
If you read enough LinkedIn profiles, you could be convinced that everyone is a “passionate”, “dynamic”, “creative” “self-starter”. I’m fairly convinced that’s NOT the case, so why make your profile instantly forgettable by using the same language as everyone else? Use a thesaurus to find different adjectives to describe you.
Also? Not everyone who views your profile will be in your industry. Try to avoid industry-specific jargon as much as possible so that anyone who reads it will easily understand what you do. A friend from a different industry should be able to read your profile and easily understand what you do.
Error #5 – LinkedIn Is Not Your Résumé
I know that sounds odd. It’s a professional networking site, so why shouldn’t you cut and paste your résumé? Here’s why:
- People don’t read on the Internet, they skim. Brief bullet points or very short paragraphs with clear headings make skimming easier
- LinkedIn provides you with a chance to be more creative. You don’t have to worry about being confined to a two-page paper résumé, or worse, making sure the information is readable using résumé scanners. Tell a creative story about who you are and what you offer others
- LinkedIn is about what you offer others, not about what you’ve accomplished – tell people what you can give to them, not what you’ve done
There are tonnes of other frequent errors, but there are the ones that will make your profile look at best, incomplete or at worst, sloppy, to potential employers or clients. Fixing your profile, and taking time to review it and update it frequently will make your profile look polished and professional.