Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn serves one major purpose: professional networking. Because of this special designation, you need to be very careful how you present yourself on the site. A future employee or business partner may look at your LinkedIn profile before anything else, and if you shape your profile correctly, it can be the positive first impression you need to move forward. Ensuring that you do not make the following mistakes will prevent you from possibly damaging your business or career.
Not uploading a photo.
When people see a LinkedIn profile with no picture, they immediately think What does this person have to hide? You wouldn’t rent an apartment without seeing pictures first, right? A profile picture serves a similar purpose. Plus, if you eventually meet these people you want to work with, they will see your face eventually! Bite the bullet and give them a professional photo to look at as a first impression.
And remember, this isn’t Twitter or Facebook. Only upload professional photos to your LinkedIn account. This means no pictures of you and your significant others, you dog, or with friends. Choose picture where you are wearing professional clothing and are smiling naturally. Also, keep the picture cropped to your shoulders and face. A full body picture is unnecessary.
Using the default connection request.
Don’t just send tons of connection requests with the same default message to every person. They will know that you didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about why it may be advantageous for you to connect with them. You don’t have to write a novel, just personalize it a little. Mention something they recently accomplished or the industry you both work in. A good closing can go along the lines of “I’m looking to build a career in [your industry] and would love to be connected to you.” Most people will appreciate the extra effort you put in, and this can only benefit you in the long run!
Using the LinkedIn app to connect with people.
Apps are great. And it may seem quick and easy to just quickly connect with someone when you have a free moment. However, this may not be such a good idea. The LinkedIn app does not allow you to customize your message, so right away you can see why that’s not an ideal way to connect with people. In addition, you are way more likely to make a typo when using your phone keyboard. Take the time to sit down at your computer and use all the features of the site.
Leaving the summary section blank.
Take advantage of the unlimited space a summary provides! You don’t have to limit it like you do a cover letter or resume. Mention your specialties, strengths, and what your professional goals are. When applying for a job, having a personal LinkedIn summary may give you an edge against another applicant who has similar qualifications. Let others know who you are!
Not creating a unique URL.
No one wants to have a link for a LinkedIn account with a ton of backslashes and random numbers. Personalizing your URL is easy and all members can do it – you don’t have to be a paying member of the site. So there is no excuse for you to not a have professional URL for your profile. Your name or an easy abbreviation will do just fine.
Not making yourself anonymous.
Any user on LinkedIn can see who has recently viewed their profile, so if you have been obsessively reading a competitor’s credentials or constantly checking up on a employer’s profile, they are going to find out about it. Spare yourself the potential awkwardness and change the privacy settings on your account. You can limit the amount of information they see. There is a downside to this though: you won’t be able to see who is visiting your profile either.
Formatting your profile into one long page.
You would never format your resume into one large block of information, right? The same goes for your LinkedIn profile. There is convenient sections option on your profile that allows you to break up your information into different categories. Make sections for work experience, volunteerism, awards, certifications, and so on. This also makes you appear more varied in your experience, and also makes information easier to find for people who are viewing your profile.
Personal branding can be tough, but as long as you follow these simple rules about what not to do, you are on your way to success. If you want to learn more about personal branding and network with other successful businesswomen, sign up for the annual MACsWomen Summit! The annual one-day intensive that will change your business.