LinkedIn has become the world’s standard professional network. That’s why it’s a mystery to me that folks are still confused how to leverage this tremendously useful platform. I’m particularly bemused by sales professionals who fail to put their best foot forward in their profiles because the platform should be one of the most powerful tools in their arsenal.

So, I’m here to help clear some things up so that sales pros can get the most out of this killer resource.

Profile Mistake #1: Confusing LinkedIn With Pokemon Go

For some reason, sales pros seem to think they need to ‘catch ’em all’ on LinkedIn. Let’s clarify something…you don’t need to connect with people on LinkedIn to use it as a prospecting tool.

Connecting with random strangers is a good way to get yourself banned on LinkedIn. You now what happens when you send a connection request? LinkedIn conveniently offers the recipient an option to say, “I don’t know this creeper.” And guess what? Lots of folks will take LinkedIn up on their offer to out you as a random connection hoarder. Only connect with people that you know professionally or risk having your account shut down. Use InMail if prospecting is a core part of your job or use LinkedIn as a research tool, followed up by outbound emails.

Profile Mistake #2: Posting Memes and/or Political Propaganda

Here’s the rule of thumb for content: sharing it must provide value to the audience.

That means you have to know your audience.

On LinkedIn, your audience is made up of professionals. They’re likely to be your colleagues, superiors, subordinates, clients, prospects, industry peers, etc. Now, consider whether you would send them an email (from your work address) with whatever content it is that you’re about to share on LinkedIn.

Memes related to your industry or role might be humorous. Some people might find value in that work-related humor. But, you run the risk of looking like a goofball who doesn’t know how to present themselves as a serious professional.

Political content is a big no-no due to its controversiality. Even if you’re commenting on someone else’s article, it’s possible for your comment to show up in your connections’ news feeds as a news item. If you want to see the lowest common denominator, check out the comments section on any political article posted on LinkedIn. Don’t associate yourself with that type of crowd because you’ll likely alienate yourself from your connections.

Profile Mistake #3: Messing Up The Headline

This one is especially detrimental to sales professionals, or anyone in a sales-related function. The headline is how you present your professional identity to the world.

For some reason, there’s been a trend toward listing all of your alleged skills or functions: BIZ DEV | SALES OPS | CRM | COACHING | PROSPECTING | NEGOTIATIONS. Doesn’t that look strange? We know with 99% certainty that you are not an expert in all of those things…so why are you just listing off sales-related skills?

Also, avoid the overuse of nonstandard characters:

☐☐※※※※ ☑☑☑ SALES EXEC WITH 10YRS OF EXPERIENCE ☑☑☑ ※※※※☐☐

Yikes…so spammy! Write your headline with proper grammar, spelling, and formatting.

Be clear and accurate in your self-description. Don’t overinflate your role. Don’t use trite buzzwords like ninja, hacker, or guru.

For example, if you are a junior account executive, it’s probably not a great idea for your headline to read: VISIONARY SALES LEADER AND LEAD HACKING GURU. (Yuck.) When your headline is incongruous with your current job title, it says that you’re not living on the same plane of reality that everyone else is. If you become what you aspire to be, you won’t need a LinkedIn headline to tell people that’s who you are. The same logic applies to anyone who describes themselves as a thought leader. Just…no.

Profile Mistake #4: Wearing Your Sunglasses Online

Like it or not, the first impression you make will color people’s perception of you. It’s also true concerning your LinkedIn profile photo, too. It communicates a lot about you without actually saying anything. It’s not the place for your wedding photo (yes, we can tell even if it’s cropped), duck lips selfie or sunglasses-margarita-I’m-on-a-boat vacation photo. Consider your attire, too. Don’t wear something that you wouldn’t wear to a professional event, even if your particular office dress code is totes cool with you showing off your hard-earned guns in a tank top.

For sales reps, LinkedIn is a chance to build a network and your reputation. Be wise in how you present yourself so that you can get the most out of the platform. Err on the side of caution with your behavior and presence on the platform and don’t underestimate the role that your LinkedIn profile will play in how people perceive your professional identity.

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