Building a strong personal brand takes time, but destroying it takes only a moment—just ask Joe Paterno. Interactions on social media platforms can negatively affect your personal brand and ultimately your company’s brand. Protect yourself and your brand by avoiding these common LinkedIn mistakes.
1. Punctuation and grammatical errors in profile
I learned this the hard way. When people made comments about grammatical errors in my profile, I thought to myself: What is the big deal? But the more I thought about it (and the more my wife badgered me about it), I came to realize I didn’t want anyone to think I didn’t care or wasn’t smart enough to do it correctly. After all, this is my online reputation, and I want it to be as stellar as it can be. I am not always perfect, but I am being much more diligent when it comes to grammar and punctuation.
2. No photo or unprofessional photo
This is your professional identity. Why in the world wouldn’t you want your photo to be the best, most recent, closeup head shot that’s been taken of you? This may be the only image of you a person ever sees.
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For those of you who have no photo, let me ask you two questions:
- Do you want to be the little blue nubby head? I doubt it. I am quite certain you are more good looking than that.
- If you are going through a LinkedIn search listing and you get to a person who does not have a photo, what do you do? Chances are you skip over him/her. I don’t really think you want people doing that to you.
3. Conversations that should be taken offline
Some conversations are not appropriate to be taking place online. Don’t forget–we still have the telephone, email, and, yes, even snail mail for those critical personal conversations or confidential business exchanges.
4. Not using the magic words “thank you” or “you’re welcome”
Our mothers taught us this. Enough said.
5. Making unprofessional or “inside” comments in an introduction chain
Remember–everyone in the chain can see your comments, including the person in between your first-degree connection and the third-degree connection you are trying to get introduced to. In addition to giving a very poor first impression, inappropriate comments to your close friend may derail the introduction.
6. Asking for a recommendation or introduction from a very casual acquaintance
LinkedIn is your way to show your high level of credibility and expertise in the marketplace. If you include in your profile recommendations that lack substance because the writer barely knows you or is not well acquainted with your work, the reader may assume you don’t know anyone who can write a first-class recommendation for you.
Before asking a casual acquaintance to make an introduction for you, spend some time getting to know him. Then he will be better able to make some positive comments about you to his friend whom you would like to meet.
7. Using your Status Update to tweet
Whoever thought it was a good idea to have a Twitter/LinkedIn interface? Twitter is a completely different social media platform, and it has its own set of rules and acceptable etiquette. LinkedIn has a very different set of rules and acceptable practices.
It is really not appropriate to have twenty status updates each day on LinkedIn, especially when most of them are about what you ate for lunch or the color of your new shirt or tie. This is a business site, and we all need to do our parts to keep it that way.
8. Using the Summary section in your profile as just a laundry list of keywords
That is not to say your important keywords shouldn’t be in your summary–they most definitely should be part of your summary. But your summary is meant to be that all-important cover letter to your viewers, and they need to hear and see you as a dynamic person. Simply putting a list of words screams out “I am boring!”
9. Posting only one job
Unless you have only had one job, it sure looks like you are trying to hide something from someone.
10. Not taking criticism professionally
Criticism is most likely to occur as part of a discussion in either Groups or Answers. Take a deep breath and come back to the entry an hour later, and then respond to the criticism in a way the rest of the readers will respect. Remember–the whole world may be watching–well, maybe not the whole world but certainly important connections who may be influenced in a negative manner by a harsh response.
11. Not having your most important jobs in your headline
Your headline is a very important part of your profile because it travels with you wherever you go on LinkedIn. Do you really want your headline to say you volunteer part time at an animal shelter instead of saying you are the president of your own company? Probably not.
You can decide what goes in your headline. However, if you don’t generate your own entry, LinkedIn will use the most recent item in the Experience section of your profile.
Don’t let this happen to you. Be creative, and craft a headline that includes your most important position along with some additional marketing punch.
12. Not having a company profile
This is like not having a company website. If I search for your company and it is not there, I assume you are not open for business.
LinkedIn offers unlimited opportunities for promoting yourself and your business. Put your best foot forward when using it, and protect yourself and your brand by avoiding these common mistakes.
Author: Wayne Breitbarth, CEO of Power Formula LLC, LinkedIn speaker and consultant, and author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search