Most people make LinkedIn mistakes resulting in hours of wasted time. Fortunately, those mistakes can easily be corrected, and in so doing, you can make your LinkedIn usage effective and profitable. So, whether you are job hunting, promoting your professional or personal brand, or seeing others to connect with, it is crucial not only to avoid these mistakes but to use LinkedIn in a way that will set you apart from the sea of other users.
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools at our disposal. Used the right way, it can be a powerful platform for connecting with potential clients or employers, finding new opportunities, and building referral relationships. Unfortunately, many people misuse or misunderstand LinkedIn, which wastes their time and fails to get the results they need.
Fortunately, if you feel you have been spinning your wheels on LinkedIn, you probably just need to make a few slight adjustments, not a major overhaul.
With that in mind, let’s look at six common LinkedIn mistakes and what you can do to correct them:
Not Taking the Time to Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile
I am appalled at the repetitive, basic advice self-described “LinkedIn experts” offer relative to using the platform. You can almost guess what each blog or video says: “the first thing people see is your profile,” “complete the top of your LinkedIn profile,” “List your skills,” “Use a high-resolution head shot for your LinkedIn photo,” “include your current job title and company,” “be sure to update your LinkedIn status,” and “make your profile stand out with a personal URL.” While each of those examples are important, they are predictable and most people instinctively know to do these things, or LinkedIn will suggest these actions as you go through setup. We use some of these items in this article as part of the strategy to get visitors to your LinkedIn profile, but not as a stand-alone action.
One of the first things you should do to maximize your presence and have your profile stand out is to make it unique and make it look like you. The typical “name, rank, and serial number” method of filling out a profile is not sufficient in a sea of users. That method only serves to blend you into a sea of other unknowns who all say the same things and parrot the same buzzwords. It’s essential to consider your profile as your introduction to other users who can help you advance your cause. If your profile is incomplete, glossed over, or doesn’t reflect who you are professionally, you’ll get overlooked. Take the time to craft a thoughtful, comprehensive, and creative profile that highlights your unique skills and background. Set yourself apart because that’s what people are looking for. A good LinkedIn profile is the result of thought and care.
Posting Updates Without Adding Value: One of The Biggest Mistakes that are Killing Opportunities
One of the biggest mistakes that are killing opportunities left and write is posting things people can’t use. Your posts must offer something to others. Avoid generic “Good morning!” messages or coffee comments and the like. Use those greetings for people you know, on Facebook instead. Post valuable news others can use related to your area of expertise with your commentary. Offering something of quality in status updates is essential to maintaining an engaging presence on social media. Think about what type of content you can share that would be beneficial to your followers. Consider offering news from reliable sources, industry updates, or links to useful websites with your commentary and analysis. When people see that you are contributing useful information, they will be more likely to think you’re a thought leader, or at least resourceful, and will you out for more. That is how people accumulate followers and become influencers. While that might not be your goal, attracting those who can advance your business or career follows the same path.
Not using Keywords Strategically in Headlines and Posts
Focus on building your online presence by including relevant keywords in your profile summary and in posts throughout the platform, following Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guidelines, is a set of strategies used to increase the visibility of content on search engine result pages. When content follows SEO guidelines, it has a better chance of ranking higher on search engines like Google or Yahoo, which is essential to capture the attention of prospects, recruiters, or employers. This means that more people can find the content, resulting in an increase in readership or audience. Producing strategic LinkedIn headlines and posts by following SEO guidelines can lead to a greater reach and higher return on investment as it will attract more visitors to a website. Using SEO optimally can also help build credibility for your brand or business and let customers know that you are up to date on best practices when creating digital media. If you are not sure how to use keywords that will help you find that perfect opportunity, consider subscribing to a program like Neuron Writer.
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Showcasing to the wrong audience
You’ve worked hard to get where you are at, so be sure not to get in your own way. I say this because LinkedIn users often make the mistake of mostly interacting with a tightly-knit group of friends or like-minded contacts on social media, and not communicating with other people who could help them advance in their careers. It becomes a clique. This may be seen as harmless fun, but it does not have tangible benefits; instead of working towards something that could improve their life, they are just getting likes which unfortunately do not pay the bills. You need to foster meaningful connections and collaborate with useful contacts. Social media can be a powerful tool for achieving this goal if used wisely – by making professional connections and engaging in meaningful conversations.
Eliminating Personal Pronouns and Speaking in 3rd Person
Then there’s the other extreme as many LinkedIn users act mechanically. Their comments sound robotic as they eliminate first personal pronouns in order to sound like everyone else. For example, “In the studio with news crew today,” instead of “I was at the news studio…” Talking robotically does have a negative impact as our subconscious minds value personal references over mechanical banter. Always write in the first person! Not sure what that means? Try this: write the way you speak and polish it a bit.
When it comes to communication, it’s the little things that usually make the biggest difference. Maximizing opportunities on LinkedIn doesn’t require enrolling in a so-called master class or reading a cheaply produced e-book. Simple things like speaking in the first person and using personal pronouns, contacting people who can help you advance instead of those who can give you “likes,” using keywords strategically, accepting connection requests, posting news people can use, and developing a unique profile can make the difference between success and futility.
Common Sense Social Media Marketing
Another thing to keep in mind is to remember we are in this together. The most successful salespeople are not only resourceful–they are connectors. When you see job seekers match what someone you know is seeking to hire, send them messages to advise them of the job or make the introduction. When you help someone on a job search to land an opportunity or help someone fill a job, your thoughtfulness will be remembered. In time, people you helped may think of you in terms of referrals or by opening a door.
Follow these tips, and you will be well on your way to getting the most out of LinkedIn and leveraging it for success. Remember: when used correctly, this powerful networking platform can lead to wonderful opportunities.
Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of common mistakes people make on their LinkedIn accounts, nor is it a complete list of strategies to attract the attention you need. However, these are mistakes I see every day, that if avoided, can enhance your social media marketing efforts on the platform.
Here are other practical tips you can use to maximize your resume and LinkedIn profile. Think of this section as an ongoing checklist, a friendly hand of your shoulder to guide you over time.
Profile Pictures, Endorsements, Relevant Skills, and More: Wrapping it up
We spoke earlier about some common tasks that are often recommended. Here are some that although they are often referenced in articles about maximizing your LinkedIn experience, have a place here. Those include:
- Consider investing in a professional headshot
- Ensure you have a complete LinkedIn profile
- Use a descriptive job title (make sure it’s your current job title)
- List your current job responsibilities – not just boring H.R.-style job descriptions
- Make a descriptive skills section: don’t just list your skills–describe them in a way that will increase your chances of getting noticed by the right people.
- Use descriptive work experiences – not just job titles and relevant skills. List three or more experiences that scream “I am promotion-ready.”
- Accumulate endorsements
- Ask for LinkedIn recommendations
- Use an interesting profile photo
- Customize your LinkedIn URL (the original URL for your profile might be hard to remember)
- Start leaving comments on posts people in your network will find useful with a goal of three times per week
Whether you are looking for a job, seeking to enhance your professional network, capturing the attention of employers and recruiters, or thinking of hiring a new employee, by following these tips, you’ll begin using LinkedIn in the way it was meant to be operated. Keep your LinkedIn page up to date with these items and you’re good as gold.
A Word About Work Experience
The number one thing that could be killing your LinkedIn profile could be what words you use to describe your experience. Don’t list jobs the way HR does in ads. Employers and customers alike will read your profile looking for scenarios that fit their needs. And they’ll be more likely to put you on the short list if you describe what your work does more than what your work is. If you are in real estate, you are not just an agent who sells houses. You connect people with lifelong memories by helping them achieve the American Dream. People are drawn toward examples that bring alive the effect more than they are the cause. Both are important, but even recruiters search for stories and backgrounders especially when they are looking for top people within your industry. Having just a bulleted history on LinkedIn won’t put you in the front. Telling your profile visitors about the magic your work creates will.