LinkedIn is a great place to build a professional network, find new contacts, and discover job opportunities. It has a huge potential, but in order to truly reap its benefits, you need to know how to use it properly.
Although LinkedIn is great at walking you through the first steps, once you get started and set everything up, you’re left on your own. Here are some common LinkedIn mistakes to avoid once you dive in.
Having incomplete profile
If your profile is not complete, it looks like you don’t really care much about LinkedIn. Not only will your profile be hard to find without the necessary profile elements, but even if someone does find it, chances are, they won’t really be interested in connecting with you.
You should have all of the following elements on your LinkedIn profile:
- Professional-looking profile picture – it’s hard to tell whether it’s worse not to have a profile picture at all or to have an unprofessional-looking one.
- Position, industry, location, education and skills – all of these elements will help you boost your profile’s visibility and ensure it appears in relevant job searches
- Summary – this is the one place where you can define yourself in your own words and highlight your biggest achievements, so use it to create a strong first impression of yourself.
- Headline – this is one of the first things people see when they receive a request, so make it concise and interesting. Also, use keywords to make it easier for others to find you.
Not sending a personalized invite message
If you’re looking to connect with a good friend or a close colleague, you can get away without sending an invite message. However, when trying to approach someone you don’t know that well or don’t have a history with, you should let them know why you’re trying to connect with them.
Try to answer the following in your invite message:
- Tell them who you are
- Explain how you found them
- Give them the reason why you want to connect
Answering these questions will boost your chances of getting accepted. Keep in mind that if you get rejected too much, LinkedIn might limit the number of invitations you can send, so make sure to personalize your approach and boost your chances of getting accepted.
Having a too big network
A bigger LinkedIn network will certainly help you get more opportunities, but remember that it’s not always about quantity, it’s about quality. Accepting anyone and everyone will help you grow your network, but it won’t really offer you any real value.
Even if you’re careful of who you are accepting, unwanted connections can still slip through the cracks so make sure to go through your list of connections from time to time and disconnect with those you don’t need anymore or never needed in the first place.
You can use LinkedIn management tools such as LeadDelta, which allows you to view connections on LinkedIn more efficiently and bulk disconnect and organize your network more efficiently.
Not organizing your network properly
It’s not unusual to still have a large number of connections even after decluttering your network. With an average number of connections on LinkedIn being 930, it can be quite challenging to remember who they all are and why you connected with them in the first place.
That’s why it’s essential to know how to tag people on LinkedIn to keep track of your connections. Adding custom tags and notes can help you group your contacts into custom categories, sort your connections, and find the contacts you’re looking for quickly.
Immediately trying to sell
There’s nothing more annoying than immediately getting hit with a sales message as soon as you connect with someone.
Keep in mind that most people never really want to see a sales pitch in their inbox, especially not from a complete stranger they just connected with on LinkedIn. So instead, slowly build relationships with your connections before you try to sell them anything.
Generally, it’s much more effective to establish yourself as an expert and a valuable source of information than to be blunt and pushy in direct messages. Once you gain their trust and prove your expertise, they will naturally become more interested in your product as well.
Not Following Up
Building relationships is not easy. It’s a long and challenging process. Even getting an initial response to your connection request can be tricky, let alone establishing a solid relationship of trust.
This means that you will often have to be persistent and follow up multiple times. Busy professionals receive tons of messages on multiple channels, so it can be easy to forget to respond to every single one of them. Following up is essential if you don’t want your message to get buried in someone’s inbox.
Just make sure to respect boundaries and that you’re not spamming your contacts.
Whether you’re using LinkedIn to find new work opportunities, to find sales prospects, or simply expand your professional network, you need to make sure that your profile is on point, your outreach game is strong and your connection is properly organized. Avoid these six mistakes to improve your networking efforts and gain more value from LinkedIn.
Hayley Hoskins is a San Francisco-based business and tech blogger, internet nerd, and data enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter @hay_hoskins.