9 Mistakes You’re Making on LinkedIn

What separates the master networkers from the amateurs? The former tend not to make these mistakes.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jin Lee / Bloomberg via Getty Images


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Lots of articles describe how to create a more marketable LinkedIn profile, how to find the right groups to join, how to choose the best profile photo… I should know, I’vewritten about that. Oh, and that. Yep, and that too.

Since most people understand the value of taking those steps, let’s go deeper. To really harness the power of LinkedIn, don’t make these mistakes:

1. You give only because you expect to receive.

Connect with people on LinkedIn and you can write a recommendation that gets displayed on their profiles.

That’s awesome, unless you’re only giving recommendations because you want one in return. Then it’s tacky.

For example, say you’re a plumber. A pipe burst and we call you at three in the morning. You immediately rush over, fix the leak, and save us from inadvertently converting our basement into a swimming pool. I’m extremely grateful and I write you a deservedly glowing recommendation.

Then I ask you to write a recommendation for me.

The problem is, you don’t know me professionally. The only thing you really know about me is that I could be heard in the background screaming like a little girl when my wife called you. How can you recommend me? You can’t. You shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t be asked to.

Give sincere recommendations. Recommend because you want to, not because you expect to receive a recommendation in return. The people who know and respect you may return the “favor.” If so, great; if not, also great. Either way you’ve given credit where credit is due.

2. You don’t give at all.

Great networking is based on giving, not receiving. Endorsements are an easy way to give: Go to someone’s profile, click a few boxes, maybe click a few plus signs–done.

Endorse another person’s skills and you not only give them a virtual pat on the back, you may also help them show up in search results.

Show other people you respect their skills. Sure, it may be a good networking move, but making other people feel good about themselves is reason enough.

3. You wait until you have a need.

If you put off making solid connections until the day you need something–customers, employees, a job, or just a better network–then you’ve waited too long. Think about where you someday want to be and start now to build the connections, the network, and the following that will support those goals.

Building great connections is a parallel, not a serial, task. Later is always too late.

4. You forget where you are.

Most people use LinkedIn as a professional social media platform. So when you want to leave comments, share material, etc., consider letting your freak flag fly somewhere else. You never know when a potential employer, employee, customer, vendor–anyone–may notice.

Safe, at least where being professional is concerned, means never having to feel sorry.

5. You ignore the signs.

LinkedIn clearly aspires to be more than a place where millions of professionals make connections.

In less than two years LinkedIn Today has become an extremely powerful news aggregator. Landing an article on a category page generates a flood of traffic; landing an article on the home page can crash your servers.

LinkedIn Today now provides original content from “thought leaders” and allows you–whether you are connected to the person or not–to follow those individuals, comment directly on their posts, share their content with your network, etc. Currently only “influencers” can be followed (Richard Branson has over a million) but it’s safe to assume that someday all users will be able to directly post their own content and build their own followings.

What’s next? I don’t know. All I know is something will be next. Pay attention, look ahead, and start positioning yourself now.

Smart people get the most out of a tool. Really smart people do too, but they also plan for how to get the most out of what a tool may become.

6. You don’t share.

The easiest way to frequently update and “customize” your profile is to share. The articles, blog posts, videos, etc. you share appear in your Activity stream, giving other people a great look at what you’re doing and what you’re interested in and creating a running journal where others can learn more about you.

Plus your connections can respond by liking or leaving comments, which helps you avoid another mistake…

7. You don’t care.

Want to know what your connections, your network, or your audience thinks is important? Want a better sense of interests and perspectives you share?

Share, and then watch your Activity feed. See what people “like.” Read the comments.

The only way to better know people is to listen to what they have to say. Make it easy to listen: Share, see what strikes a chord and what doesn’t. It’s the perfect way to get direct feedback and build stronger connections. See your Activity feed as real-time feedback from the people you reach–and want to keep reaching.

8. You ignore your team’s network.

Relationships, referrals, and rapport are powerful ways to open doors.

The people you work with have great networks. (If they don’t, encourage them to start building.) When you’re looking for an “in,” see if someone on your team already has the right connection.

Chances are they do.

9. You go generic.

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Yeah, I know you’re busy. Still, is using the auto-generated LinkedIn connection text really the best you can do?

Delete the generic message and take a few seconds to say how you know the person. Or to say what you have in common. Or to say something complimentary. Unless you’re just trying to pad your numbers, you have a good reason reason for wanting to connect, so say what that reason is.

Making real connections starts with the word “real.”

Be real.

READ MORE FROM INC.:
Be Happier: 10 Things to Stop Doing Right Now
6 Things Really Productive People Do

56 comments
inkscrblr
inkscrblr

@cpascalar Thanks for the follow. We just hit a Payless in Las Vegas at Fashion Show mall. I scored excellent pumps and jewelry to match.

Sprinklr
Sprinklr

@SarahLatDell Nice outline. Thought these are good tips by @kikolani on how to maximize exposure & authority on LI: http://t.co/gQ8BSXM5

ATravissCorry
ATravissCorry

@SociallyActive_ I am only making 2 of the mistakes

Sandra Mclean
Sandra Mclean

first mistake was joining and filling n the form

robx_d
robx_d

@andylevy @TIME @TIMEBusiness 2. Stop reading Time.

simeon7777
simeon7777

1st mistake, being on it. I've gotten nothing out of it but a crazy amount of emails from that company. SPAM!

Adalberto Cervantes Rodriguez
Adalberto Cervantes Rodriguez

Calderon and Fox used the international legal and illegal security network in USA and Mexico against me, after a comment on line in Excelsior and Universal about the issue of two plagiarisms of Fox in Mexico at Universidad Iberoamericana for his Bachelor´s degree and also in his thesis presented at an American University for his PhD. It was long time ago but since then he has been using the international legal and illegal security network in USA and Mexico against me for almost three years, as a personal issue. Also I used to work in Hildebrando, Calderon´s family business and both of them decided to use this international legal and illegal security network in USA and Mexico against me because of my comments on line about the plagiarism of Fox using government documents as Theses.

4RCManagement
4RCManagement

@2morrowknight @TIME Sean, thanks for sharing #Linkedin post.

scott.the.scribe1
scott.the.scribe1

I ignore all those masses of greedy and, to me, unscrupulous lusters for material goods and wealth with nary a thought or concern of anything not directly elated to wealth creation.


When any of the multitude of self-centered vermin approach them I advise them of my desire for a military coup to destroy the many systems they operate or utilize that skims so much wealth from the common folks whose arduous efforts create the wealth and whose efforts allow a modern society/country to exist on a day-to-day level.

EdenSlr
EdenSlr

@TIME @timebusiness Nice pointers!

zb_rider
zb_rider

@TIME @TIMEBusiness 9 mistakes you're making on Linkedin, number one: Have a profile on linkedin.

StankBeav
StankBeav

@PokeSkawalker @TIME @TIMEBusiness Interesting. I broke two rules!

BholaPanta
BholaPanta

@TIME @TIMEBusiness , Thank oyu jeff for this worthy article on how to use LinkedIn for intelligent networking.

SimoneHigh1
SimoneHigh1

@TIME @TIMEBusiness . Something inspiring just dawned on me while reading this article. Wow! A real aha moment.

1cor1624
1cor1624

@andylevy Linkedin is awesome! IF you enjoy labyrinths.

BannerMeowMeow
BannerMeowMeow

@andylevy @TIME @TIMEBusiness I suppose all of that is OK 4 business majors/MBAs or Sales. But for those of us who actually work? notsomuch.

Illusiveanswers
Illusiveanswers

@andylevy @time @timebusiness Get rid of friends and family who send requests for you to join LinkedIn.

RooneyLinn
RooneyLinn

@TIME @TIMEBusiness I tried it 3 years ago sucks:-)

donniewherman
donniewherman

@TIME for some reason I think all social sites are some sort of trap.

mikesandusky2
mikesandusky2

@andylevy @TIME @TIMEBusiness 1 dont buy it = 9

Castle_Kearsley
Castle_Kearsley

@time @timebusiness Why bother with LinkedIn at all?

tiny_emperor
tiny_emperor

@Henlips @TIME Seriously. This is a truncated 10-point list. #1: Don't join.

ErinBaz
ErinBaz

Yes, and #7 too RT @RecruitMoore I see #9 all the time! RT @TIME: 9 mistakes you're making on LinkedIn http://t.co/Es70qAC0 @TIMEBusiness

SociallyActive_
SociallyActive_

@ATravissCorry I think we all make them from time to time articles like this one serve as a great reminder ;)

throatkooky
throatkooky

@donniewherman  Would that be due to the fact you are a paranoid yoyo?

throatkooky
throatkooky

@Castle_Kearsley  You just commented about them so you just bothered. Capiche?

BasdeRegt
BasdeRegt

@jwalphenaar Ik dacht dat je er misschien je voordeel mee kon doen. You're welcome.

ATravissCorry
ATravissCorry

@SociallyActive_ speaking of... The @INcubes #startups of INtake03 are in need of your on camera mentoring! (Cc @RobinWhittall

ATravissCorry
ATravissCorry

@SociallyActive_ @robinwhittall fantastic! Sooner the better. We will set up one on one sessions for you @incubes

SociallyActive_
SociallyActive_

Sweet! I'd love too. I connect with you tomorrow okay @ATravissCorry? Cc:@incubes @robinwhittall