For those of you out there who are looking to accomplish a challenging professional goal, whether it be finding a new job, starting a business, or just building a bigger network, if you can use LinkedIn the right way, you may actually be unstoppable. Here’s what to avoid doing so you can maximize your success and get to your goal sooner!
LinkedIn Mistake: Hard pitch on the introduction – making yourself unwanted.
When you request to connect with somebody, don’t say something like, “I am looking for a job and had a few questions about your company” or “I thought you might be interested in learning about our hedge fund.” Think about it – the person doesn’t even know who you are. You have zero credibility, but right away you’re asking them to trust you? Or people who blast email their whole connection base selling their newest product, advertising their new book, etc. In both situations you come off as that unwanted sales sleazebag that people want to get rid of. I suggest making the connection by proposing to start a mutually beneficial business relationship, have a phone call with the person, and then try to develop a relationship of trust with them. Later on you can read the situation to see if they’d be open to what you are proposing.
LinkedIn Mistake: Making acridly negative comments on blog posts or discussions.
I post a blog everyday and have had more than one of my blogs read by more than 2k people. The more widely read posts always seem to attract one or two toxic commentators. They range from everything from criticizing my physical appearance to making nasty threats. No lie. Now, everybody is surely entitled to their opinion. But when you go in on somebody in writing on the Internet, it never goes away. It can so easily be forwarded to your boss or someone that you wouldn’t want seeing you as a negative person **at a point in the future when you don’t want it to**. Play it safe and if you disagree with something, do it without an attitude problem.
LinkedIn Mistake: Spamming the discussion groups, or overdoing it
There is no better way to build credibility with a large amount of people than posting discussions to groups. I personally have benefited from this several times, gaining new clients, when a few of my blogs became massively popular. Post often, but post thoughtfully. Anything that sounds like a sales pitch is going to get filtered or even worse, make people in the group so turned off that the next time they won’t even read your post. Also, if you notice that you are posting consecutively (e.g. your posts are the last 5 posted to the group) and nobody else is liking or commenting, take a step back. Maybe post somewhere else. In other words, you’ll get the best results when you are able to successfully gauge the audience’s responsiveness.
LinkedIn Mistake: Not turning off the profile update when you change status
If you are updating your job profile to attract attention from hiring managers, remember to turn off the option to have your network see that you are doing so. Nothing gives your boss a clearer indication that you are on the market.
LinkedIn Mistake: Neglecting to pursue 2nd and 3rd connections
When people refer to their network, many times they only use the first degree connections. True, it’s harder to think of a way to get connected to a second or third degree connection. You may not know the first degree person well enough to ask them to make the intro. But if you look at how wide your reach can span by getting access to those not directly connected to you, it could actually make you unstoppable. Find creative ways to get to them.
LinkedIn Mistake: Not following companies you are interested in
Let’s say you either want to work at Company XYZ or perhaps take them on as a client. Following their company page and paying attention to their updates, maybe even liking or commenting on them, is a great way to get them to notice you. People think of Twitter as the media for following others but don’t let that make you forget about LinkedIn!
LinkedIn Mistake: Thinking that the more connections the better
You don’t have to be one of these “open networkers” with thousands of connections to be effective. It’s quality, not quantity. Meaningful, consistent interactions with your network in which you paint a favorable, branded picture of yourself will trump having a million connections.
LinkedIn Mistake: Not following up
Let’s say that you connect with someone who works in the same industry and has the same job title as you. You check out their profile and they seem pretty impressive. But you’re not looking for a job so no need to go any further. Right? Wrong! Remember that there’s no better time to look for a job than when you are happily employed. Likewise, there’s no better time to make relationships with people that could potentially help you than when you don’t need their help. I suggest that my clients make at least 3 meaningful connections per week, even when they are not in job search mode. Your network is your armor. It can never hurt to have positive relationships with your peers, or even your competitors, ready for when the going gets tough.
LinkedIn Mistake: Asking questions that the person’s profile answers.
When I want to build a relationship with someone on LinkedIn, or when they want to build one with me, I typically suggest a phone call after we connect. Before I talk to them, I make sure to read their profile so that I have meaningful questions to ask them about what they are involved with. I can honestly say that this has not always been the case with the person on the other end of the line. I can always tell because they’ll ask me what I do for a living or where I went to school – and it’s clearly written on my profile page. Unfortunately they have discredited themselves with me. I usually end the conversation right then and there before wasting more of my time. Bad first impression! If this person doesn’t take the 30 seconds to at least know who he or she is talking to, they’re not taking the call, or me, very seriously. And so why should I? On the other hand, when I talk to somebody who has intelligent questions to ask and shows they actually cared enough to know a little about me, I’m much more motivated to continue the relationship.
LinkedIn Mistake: Doing inappropriate things like asking people out on a date.
I’m putting this one last because it’s humorous but it has actually happened to me twice. Those people are now blocked from ever contacting me again. Other examples of inappropriate things include stalking someone or posting a picture with bikini clad women as your profile shot. I’ve seen both of these happen, no lie. LinkedIn is a business website – save the romance for Facebook or even better yet Match.com.
I am a person who has built her business almost entirely through social media networking. If anyone has questions on how to do this for themselves, please reach out to me and I’m glad to help! Also, if YouTube is your thing (for those too busy to sit in front of a computer), I make a video of most of my blogs and they can be watched here http://goo.gl/XODlcB
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