It’s no secret that LinkedIn is a great resource for tech professionals who are looking for a new gig, or simply trying to strengthen their professional network. What does seem to be a secret, however, is that, when used incorrectly, LinkedIn can actually harm your professional reputation. Since we’re sure you don’t want to do that, make sure to follow these LinkedIn etiquette rules in order to harness the full potential of LinkedIn.
6 Rules of LinkedIn Etiquette
1. Don’t Post Personal Updates
While Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are social media platforms where it’s acceptable to post personal updates, LinkedIn is not. It’s a professional network, and one of the greatest LinkedIn faux pas is a failure on your part to keep it that way.
What does this mean? Don’t post about your relationship troubles, your kid losing their first tooth, or politics on LinkedIn. Post relevant career updates, job postings at your company, and news articles that your professional network may be interested in reading. All that other stuff? Keep it for Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
2. Have A Professional Profile Picture
In the same vein, make sure that you keep your LinkedIn profile picture professional. This, first of all, means having an actual profile picture, and not just the default one set by LinkedIn. The world wants to see your smiling face, so show it to them!
Note, however, that while it may seem like a good idea to put a funny picture of you on LinkedIn, maybe that one of you in a cow costume from college, it’s not appropriate for LinkedIn. I mean, sure, it will make you memorable, but not in the way you want. Instead, it will force people to question whether or not you’re a serious professional, one who knows the rules of the game. Do yourself a favor, and keep those goofy pictures for other social media platforms.
3. Don’t Use Auto-Generated Templates
When your friend gets a new job, or you’re connecting with someone, LinkedIn gives you the option to send a generic “Congratulations!” or “Let’s Connect!” message. While it’s tempting to just send those, don’t. Take the time to personalize these messages, as doing so will allow you to make a more direct connection with the person you’re contacting. They’ll recognize that you didn’t just send them a generic message, which ultimately strengthens your professional network.
4. Don’t Endorse People You Don’t Know
While LinkedIn gives you the option to endorse people for specific skills, don’t do it if you don’t know the individual. It seems like a no brainer of course, but it’s done all the time.
The question is, why? Why would you endorse someone you don’t know, for a skill you don’t even know if they have? If you’re doing it in hopes that they’ll reciprocate the favor, I’ve got disappointing news for you – they, more likely than not, won’t, especially is they’re skilled in LinkedIn etiquette. Furthermore, if they don’t have the skill that you’ve endorsed them for, you’ll both look ridiculous to other LinkedIn users. Spare yourself the questions and the humiliation. Don’t endorse people you don’t know, and certainly don’t ask for endorsements from strangers. (Or candy for that matter.)
5. Control What Activities You Want Published
In your profile settings, you can select who can see your activity feed. Depending on what you’re using LinkedIn for, you may want to limit who can see your activities. For example, if you’re looking for a new tech gig, it’s probably best that your manager doesn’t see the recruiters you’re connecting to, or the sudden increase in activity. Think about what you want published to the rest of the world, and set your privacy settings accordingly.
6. Beware That People Know Who Looks At Their Profile
While you may want to know more about that person you met in line at the grocery store last week, LinkedIn is not the way to do it – unless you want them to know that you’ve been trying to learn more about them.
You see, LinkedIn tells you when people have been looking at your profile. While this gives you the opportunity to connect with recruiters or hiring managers who may be looking for someone with your skill, it can also make for an embarrassing situation if you’re stalking your 8th grade significant other.
LinkedIn has the ability to advance your career, but unfortunately, too often, people forget this and are exceedingly unprofessional. It’s not a place for personal updates, but, at the same time, it’s not a place to be a robot. Be genuine, while still keeping it professional, and only endorse people you actually know. If you keep these things in mind, LinkedIn will certainly help you to advance your career.