LinkedIn is the top social media platform for people in business and it’s a great tool for making connections. It’s also great for identifying your prospective customers and clients and those who are likely to influence them, and so can be a great sales tool too. BUT there’s a right way and wrong way to use it. .
Here are some of the most common mistakes we see. Avoid them, and you’re on your way to successfully using LinkedIn for business.
1. No profile picture or an unsuitable one
People do business with people. They want to see who you are, so make sure you have an appropriate profile picture. Notice the word ‘appropriate’ in there. If you are a business owner wanting to make business connections, pictures of your pets, children and holidays are a no no (you have Facebook and Instagram for those). A suitable business picture is recommended. That’s not to say you always have to be ‘suited and booted’. If your business is outdoor pursuits, or ski school, then a picture of you at the top of a ski run or sitting in a canoe would, of course be appropriate. Basically, a sensible head and shoulder shot is what’s needed – no pouting selfies, glamour make overs or silly poses.
2. Not having a summary
This is where people learn about you and your business. If it’s blank, then all you have is a CV.
3. Making your profile all about you
Yes, of course your profile has to be about you but don’t be overly self promoting. LinkedIn started off as a place for recruiters but now it’s grown to so much more. If you’re using it for business, rather than telling everyone about how good you are and how you’re in the top 20 of the sales team each quarter, let people know how you help your clients. If someone wants your services, they aren’t too worried about where you are in the sales league table, they want to know how you can help them.
4. Not including contact details
It may sound like common sense, but there are many profiles out there with no contact details on. You’re on LinkedIn to make business connections so make sure people can contact you. Include your email address, telephone number and social media connections.
5. Sending the basic connect request
That generic ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn’ doesn’t tell people why you want to connect. There has to be a reason for someone to connect to you. Now, LinkedIn have made it a little harder by removing the ability to link with a personalised message via groups, but you can still do it through the main profile connect request. However, don’t fall into the mistake of clicking the connect button when being shown the ‘People you might know’ – this will send the generic one liner. Always connect from the main profile.
6. Sending inmails or spam
Now, some will disagree with me here, but I personally don’t like using inmail. There are those who swear by it, but not me. It could be down to personal experience – I think I can only think of 1 instance where I was sent an inmail that wasn’t spam. I once heard a speaker tell an audience to use inmail to connect, and if they didn’t get a response to send another inmail and another; perseverance is what I think it was termed at the time. To me that’s spam, and I would report it as such. Do it once too often and you could find yourself banned from LinkedIn.
If I want to connect to someone and I haven’t met them, I’ll make an effort to find out a bit more by joining the same groups and discussions and then sending a request based on those interactions. If you are going to use inmail to connect, then the same applies as in the connection request – make sure you have a good reason to connect, don’t just push out a sales pitch.
7. Following up a connection with a sales pitch
So, you’ve sent a connection request and based on your content, your prospect has accepted. The quickest way to get them to disconnect is to immediately follow up with a sales pitch or a request for something unrealistic. I don’t know about you but I find it really frustrating when I’ve accepted a connection request that seemed genuine, only to be bombarded with messages asking if I want a demo of the latest software which will only take an hour of my time etc. Don’t be that person. Your aim may well be to get that time for a demo but take time to get to know your connection. See what they post and comment on their posts and discussions. It’s a great way to find out if they have problems or issues that you could solve. Use those group discussions to show how you or your product can help resolve issues.
8. Posting updates that should be on Facebook
LinkedIn is a strong, business oriented platform. It’s not the place for posting jokes or maths problems. Some people do it as a way of trying to get hundreds of comments or likes on a post – i.e. to beat the system. If you want to make serious business connections, avoid this, it’s a quick way to annoy people and encourage them to disconnect.
9. Making pointless comments on discussions
If you’re reading a discussion and can’t add to the conversation, that’s fine. If you’ve enjoyed the thread, click ‘like’ – that’s good enough. It’s telling your connections and the author that you have enjoyed their contribution. If you want to share it, then that’s good too but don’t feel you have to write something every time you read a post. Repeating what’s already been said or writing things like ‘great’ or ‘nice post’ doesn’t add anything to the conversation. This is a poor practice born out of the ‘Top Contributor’ status that used to form part of LinkedIn groups (where people who commented lots in discussions were pushed to the top of the group and highlighted as top contributors). However, that has no standing if what is being contributed adds no value to the discussion, are they really winning?
10. Blasting the same content to all your groups at the same time
There are some posts that may well be relevant to more than one group, but be aware of who your connections are and what groups they are members of. You may well share multiple groups with some connections and if you post the same update across all your groups in one go, those contacts will have their feeds clogged up with your post back to back via each group. This can be annoying, especially if you have not changed the top level text or image. To your contacts it will look as though you have sent multiple duplicate posts.
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