25 Things That Make You Look Dumb On LinkedIn

25 That Make You look Dumb on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of those social networks you may feel a bit unsure about.

You might even be asking yourself, “How can this site help me grow my small business?”

LinkedIn is recognized as the professional social network. It’s a place where people in all industries can go to build relationships with their colleagues and demonstrate their experience and expertise. It’s also a place where businesses and organizations can show off their work to prospective clients, customers, and even future employees.

The last thing you want to do is look like you don’t know what you’re doing!

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To help you get started, we compiled a list of 25 things you’ll want to avoid:

1. Not understanding the difference between a LinkedIn Company Page and a LinkedIn Profile. There are two ways for you to demonstrate your expertise on LinkedIn. With a Company Page, you’ll be communicating as your business. This is similar to a Facebook Business Page, where prospective clients can learn more about your business. However, it is much more focused on informing your audience rather than building a community like you would on Facebook.

With your LinkedIn Profile, you’ll be communicating as an individual rather than a business. Here you’ll connect with clients, colleagues, and other members of your professional network.

Mixing this up is a guaranteed way to look foolish when starting out.

2. Not having a profile photo. This might seem like a no-brainer, but not having a photo can have a big impact on the overall appearance of your profile.

3. Using an unprofessional profile photo. Quirky photos that might fly on Facebook are not a good choice on LinkedIn. Keep your headshot professional.

4. Uploading a poorly-cropped profile photo. People upload profile photos all the time that are not sized correctly for LinkedIn. This often results in the “half-head” syndrome. Don’t be the person without a forehead in your profile photo! Also, you don’t want to use a photo that has multiple people in it. Your beautiful face should be the only one in the picture.

5. Not updating your contact information. It’s important to keep all of your information up-to-date. Why? You want people to be able to easily connect with you.

6. Not completing your entire profile. Having an incomplete profile not only looks lazy, but it also doesn’t portray all of the amazing credentials and experience you have. Show them off!

7. Not including a personalized message. With every invitation you send to connect, you should always include a personal message. This is the place to add that little something extra. A personalized note goes a long way because it makes your invitation feel genuine.

8. Not posting appropriate content. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site. The type of content you’d post on Facebook, might not be appropriate on LinkedIn. Keep content professional and relevant.

9. Not proofreading your posts. An extra comma here and a misspelled word there may not seem like a big deal, but it does make you look less professional. Keep posts as grammatically sound as possible.

10. Not contributing to the conversation. LinkedIn is becoming more and more social and easy to access from your mobile device with its recent updates. Adding to the conversation is a great way to make meaningful connections, and with these updates, there’s no excuse for not contributing.

11. Not being selective about the connections you accept. The people you choose to connect with are a representation of who you are. Don’t accept just anyone. Make sure you know who they are and their credentials.

12. Sending too many requests = poor LinkedIn etiquette. Don’t bombard people with request after request. It gets annoying. You also want to be choosey about the people you request to connect with.

13. Embellishing your responsibilities and accomplishments. Plain and simple, it’s just better not to embellish. Plus, I’m sure you have plenty of experience to show off. Tell people about it all!

14. Not managing your visibility. Choosing who is able to see your profile is important. Make sure your visibility setting is to your liking. Here’s how.

15. Not endorsing someone back. Don’t expect to keep getting love if you don’t share some love too.

16. Not asking for endorsements or recommendations. These are the things that can greatly boost your LinkedIn reputation. A good recommendation tells people that you are a trust-worthy expert.

17. Not sharing rich media (i.e. links, videos, infographics, slideshare etc.) LinkedIn now allows videos and photos. Take advantage! It’s an engaging, fun way to attract people to your profile!

18. Not joining the right groups. This is similar to the people you choose to connect with. The groups you choose to join, are visible on your profile. Make sure they’re relevant to your industry and reputable.

19. Not posting open positions on your Business Page. LinkedIn is a great resource that can help you find your next great employee. Don’t hesitate to let people know you’re hiring!

20. Not connecting to your other social media outlets. Think of your social networks as part of a larger ecosystem. They should all be connected and working together to help boost your social connections.

21. Too much self-promotion. You don’t want to come off as an “it’s-all-about-me” kind of person. You want your connections to feel like you care about them. Find a nice balance between promoting your business and offering your audience relevant content and solutions.

22. Not customizing your professional headline. The professional headline is the text right below your name. Customize it so that it grabs attention and speaks to your business qualifications.

23. Not staying on top of your inbox messages. It’s so easy to let any inbox get out of control, but on LinkedIn, you are building relationships. That means, if someone takes the time to message you, you should message them back right away to show them you care.

24. Not thinking about search optimization (SEO). For starters, completing your profile helps your ranking, but there is more you can do to make your Business Page SEO friendly. Being visible and highly ranked will help people find you.

25. Not having a LinkedIn profile!

Even if you think that other industries or small businesses are better suited for LinkedIn than you, there are still many valuable connections that LinkedIn can offer.

According to a Constant Contact survey, data indicates that small businesses are increasingly seeing the value of social media platforms across the board, and, in particular, LinkedIn and Twitter. 29 percent said that LinkedIn was effective for their business, an increase of 19 percentage points compared to a similar Constant Contact Small Business survey last spring.

Just by being aware of these 25 LinkedIn mistakes, you’ll already be ahead of the curve and making LinkedIn connections in no time. Start small by setting up a profile and have fun with it!

What do you think about our list? Did we miss anything? Share your thoughts below.

Comments: 26

  • Lin Sheffield says:

    So you’re saying we SHOULD ask our connections for endorsements & recommendations? I’ve avoided doing this b/c I thought I’d look desperate! btw thanks for your succinct tips!

    • Lin, I would recommend asking only your closest connections for endorsements and recommendations. Like you said, you don’t want to come across as desperate. Be selective and you’ll get some really great endorsements and recommendations!

      Thanks so much for reading Lin and I’m so happy you liked our tips!

    • Fred Swan says:

      Thanks fr the tips. I now need to add my photo and keep up with my inbox. Unfortunately I have a face for radio.
      New user to Linked in and needed the info

  • Ryan says:

    I am guilty of #7. I suppose you could combine #7 and #16 and kill 2 birds with one stone?

  • Ryan, writing a personalized note on your invitations to connect can go a long way. Give it a try next time and see if it helps. Let me know how it goes. Thanks for reading Ryan!

  • As usual, Donna – you nailed it. Keep timely pieces like this coming!

  • 9.Not proofreading your posts;
    True,this is a great advice.
    I like to add to it;for creative people who
    want to share their thoughts,and lack the
    “Perfect English” ..I want to say;don’t let that stop you
    From contributing ..improve your language,
    No one is perfect ..keep contributing.

  • I can’t agree with not endorsing people back. A few years ago, I was happy to write a recommendation for a connection, however the endorsing thing is seriously out of control. I am constantly being endorsed for skills by people who have no idea whether I can do them or not. It’s weird and makes the whole “endorsement” thing redundant. That said, perhaps if I was a little more discerning with who I connect to, this might not be a problem.

  • I’d include “Hunting down someone you only vaguely know and adding them.” It’s a bit creepy. I’ve also, recently, had a number of people trying to add me with no profile picture, or explanation as to why they want to add you. “Spam” is what I think there.

    Still, LinkedIn is a service I only rarely visit. I’ve yet to find it of any real use.

  • Larry Meadows says:

    If “Not having a profile photo” is so important that it is number 2 on your list, why don’t you follow through on the importance of the profile photo by including one in your author profile? Perhaps you really don’t believe it’s that important?

  • Laura Smith-Proulx says:

    Great article!

    However, #14 isn’t quite accurate. Your Public Profile (and URL) have nothing to do with your visibility inside the site, but are related to whether your Profile comes up in Google / Yahoo searches OUTSIDE LinkedIn.

    Once a Profile is created, it’s 100% “public” and viewable by all LinkedIn users, all the time. Any user can see it as long as they’re either connected to you (1st or 2nd degree connections), or if they have a Premium account.

    There is nothing you can do to keep your Profile hidden, but as the rest of your article states, there are many ways to miss out on the networking opportunities it affords.

    Kind regards,


  • Valuable ready reference, helpful in improving overall linkedin experience!

  • I definitely agree with this article… It looks really dodgy and inappropriate for people to have unprofessional profile pictures on Linkedin!

  • Thanks for the tips. Always great to learn more.

  • Kristin says:

    I’d also add not spamming people with big mail-out emails on linkedin. It’s annoying, rude and makes me want to block people who do it. Social media is about connection (including LinkedIn) and sending generic info to a jumbo list shows you seriously don’t get what social is all about. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

  • Judy says:

    I like this article. A new Linkedin user needs to know these points. I have to say I found 2 really good groups in LinkedIn that I can relate to as a rural small business. There is so much potential for growth as a community and building relationships with like minded people. You definitely don’t want to be creepy, desperate, or lazy.

  • Crack that whip! Yikes! I can see how this list can be a little intimidating for newbies, but I think tackling one at a time might be worthwhile at the end. As for the rest of us (the cool kids) there is always room for improvement. Thanks for this list now I shall share it with my friends to shame them on their subpar performance on LInkedIn (just kidding I’m here to train not shame) :)

  • Marilyn King says:

    These are great! Steve Lowisz recently wrote about LinkedIn LIES to watch out for – thought I’d share!


  • Kennedy N. Njamba says:

    Waal, this was wonderful. I wish the article was available the time I was introduced to join LinkenIn, it would have made a big difference. Wisdom comes handy, as it is packaged in smaller units at a time – for an impact that lasts a life time! 25 tips at a go, then the brain selects what tip is befitting at any appropriate time! Thanks a lot!

  • Kai Lorenz says:

    Great post. Very helpful and pragmatic.

  • Carol Livingston says:

    What about people who endorse me for things I do not do. Some of my contacts have good intention, but now my endorsements do not match my skill set. Is there a way to fix that?

  • sue monaghan says:

    Very interesting read, Thank you

  • Terry Warren says:

    If one of the big “no-nos” is failing to have a profile picture, why does the author of this article not have a picture?

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