December 1, 2015

5 Bad Habits to Break on LinkedIn

RainyI’ve written previously about some of the basic LinkedIn faux pas that I’ve noticed in the course of growing my professional network and building my business. In general, these were obvious things that people simply forget to do, like adding a picture or capitalizing their name. Now, I’d like to get into some deeper advice geared more toward those of you who are real LinkedIn connectors.

Here are five things you should stop doing if you want to take your LinkedIn game up a notch:

1. Thanking Me for Every Post

While you may believe that thanking someone for every post makes you look engaged, it actually makes you look like you have too much time on your hands.

Every time I post something, I immediately get a thank-you message from you. That makes me think you didn’t even read the post – and that definitely doesn’t make you look good. If you’re a job seeker, it looks like you’re either desperate for my approval or don’t understand how social media works. If you’re a potential client or vendor, it says the same thing.

Try adding value to a post by commenting about a specific part of the article that resonated with you or sharing the content on your own timeline. Every author appreciates this sort of real engagement.

2. Using an Icon or Strange Image as Your Profile Picture

It’s great that you put up a picture and used editing software to make it look nice – but you shouldn’t have a cartoon character or similar avatar on a professional network. Those are not the images you want people to see when you’re messaging them about an open position or an introduction to a hiring manager.

Because LinkedIn is a professional network, a simple head-and-shoulders shot of you facing the camera, smiling and generally looking competent, is all you need.

Plus, a photo like this this will help people recognize you in real life.

3. Connecting With ‘TopLinked’ Folks

L.I.O.N.” and “TopLinked” are designations that say you are not discerning about who you connect with. In the beginning, these seemed like great ways to “game” LinkedIn, but in today’s less-is-more climate, it isn’t doing you favors.

I never connect with L.I.O.N.s or TopLinked users if I can help it. Adding them to your network is opening yourself up to spam. Try to avoid fake honorifics. InsteadMug, focus on contributing advice and articles to groups where you can be a thought leader, rather than a name collector.

4. Using a Strange Job Title

Although you might enjoy your cute title – e.g., “Chief Marketing Brain” – no one else on LinkedIn cares. Think about how you’re going to appear in search results if someone is looking for a marketing consultant or CMO.

In fact, it’s likely that you won’t appear at all. LinkedIn runs off of semantic and SEO search. If someone is looking for a CMO and your title is “Chief Marketing Brain,” they probably won’t find you.

If you’re the CEO of a rapidly growing agency that blows its competition out of the water, you can use whatever title you want. However, I personally won’t connect with you. Recruiters and HR professionals are not fans of strange titles, so your “unique” designation could hurt your chances of landing a new job.

5. Guilt-Tripping Your Connections

If I didn’t ask you to reach out to me to sell something, don’t do it. I likely didn’t send a demo request or even join a group, so it’s inappropriate to act upset when I don’t respond to your cold InMail. Subject lines like “In case you missed it…” and “A few minutes of your time…” are dead giveaways and ride the line of guilt-tripping.

LinkedIn was built to create professional and mutually beneficial connections. For the most part, it does that best when we use the platform to build and maintain meaningful relationships. Think of LinkedIn as the online version of a professional mixer. Speak professionally, have useful conversations, contribute consistently – and watch your professional online life flourish.

A version of this article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next-generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space.

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BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners.