I first wrote about LinkedIn etiquette several years ago when I was working for a PR agency. At that point in time LinkedIn had around 3 million UK users who were predominantly male and senior decision makers. Fast forward to 2012 and the UK figures sit somewhere around 8 million users and the demographic now includes more women and a broad range of sectors and management levels. LinkedIn is a great source of generating new business leads, finding valuable information and keeping in touch with business connections.
A recent surge of connection requests has prompted me to re-visit this subject as it's crystal clear that many people aren’t sure what to do with LinkedIn. Others are making a bad first impression by ignoring the etiquette of the network and alienating potential business contacts with their scatter-gun approach.
These five simple tips should help users avoid making costly mistakes. Think of social networking in the same way as a face to face event. It’s important to make a good first impression and do the handshaking and introductions before settling down to talk about products, sales, costs or services.
<! Complete your profile
An incomplete profile looks like spam and users will question your motive for wanting to connect. Are you contributing to the network or just wanting access to their contacts? Take time to complete the various sections. Protect yourself from identity fraud by omitting your full date of birth.
<! Add a photograph
A photo reminds users who you are as people are better at remembering faces than names. The photo should be of you alone, not in a group or with your spouse, child or dog. This is a business network, not Facebook. The photo should reflect the sector you work in, if I was a lawyer I'd have opted for a more corporate image than the one above.
<! Links to website
Every personal profile on LinkedIn has the option to have three links to a website, blog or other social network. Take advantage of these links. If you have ten employees that is 30 links to different pages on your company website – think of the potential traffic!
<! Invitations to connect
LinkedIn has created a standard ‘Invitation to Connect’ message which is cold and impersonal and gives no incentive for the receiver to accept the invitation. Be clear about why you want to connect – who are you, what do you want, how do we know each other? What is the benefit of connecting?
<! Respect the network
The most common error I see on LinkedIn is the ‘Me,Me,Me’ mistake. If someone agrees to connect with you that doesn’t mean they have signed up for your newsletter or they want to receive weekly messages with invitations to events or for special offers. That is spam and people will block you - don’t do it!
Draw attention to your profile by posting status updates and engaging with other people by commenting on and sharing their updates. Remember, it’s like face to face networking, shake hands, ask questions and listen. Don’t just talk, talk, talk! Add value and use LinkedIn as the introduction to set up the coffee meeting and take it from there.
If you’d like to employ my services for social media strategy, training, content generation or advice then please feel free to get in touch.