LinkedIn: A list of 36 Tips for Success and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Are you a B2B professional looking to build your personal brand? Wanting to tap into a resourceful knowledge base where you can learn, discuss and stay on top of industry news with other quality professionals in your industry? Do you want an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and show yourself as an authority through the content you post?

If this sounds like something you want then LinkedIn is a vital tool in your marketing efforts.

With over 347 million active users spanning more than 200 countries, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. By using it with the most effective tips and best practises in mind you will be rewarded with a tremendous source of connections, industry knowledge and business leads. Use it without knowing the most efficient tactics however and it won’t be nearly as powerful for you as it could be.

Make sure you show yourself in the best possible light on LinkedIn by checking out these tips for success and common mistakes to avoid!


Tips for Success

  • Proofread Your Profile
    Your profile represents you in the professional world therefore always remember to check your copy for correct spellings, punctuation and grammar as your LinkedIn profile is an extension of your corporate persona so simple errors could damage your authority, reputation and appeal. This also extends to checking your profile thoroughly to ensure what you are saying is effectively and clearly communicated to the reader and the layout is visual appealing with short sharp paragraphs. It is beneficial to ask someone external to read through your profile to check for mistakes and also to see whether they understand clearly all what you are saying within your profile.
  • Do Not Lie About Anything
    In an age where it is easy to check information on the internet such as your education or job experience it is neither worthwhile nor appropriate to lie within your profile. In doing so you risk a very public ‘outing’ if you are found out that instantly makes you look unprofessional and untrustworthy which will likely affect your potential for future business.
  • Utilise LinkedIn Badges on Your Website
    LinkedIn has available several types of profile badges that can help you promote your LinkedIn profile. By using the HTML code you can attach a badge to your blog, website or any other forums you are active on and when users click on these badges, they’ll be automatically directed to your LinkedIn profile, helping you expand your connections.
  • Personalise your LinkedIn Connection Requests
    When attempting to make a connection with a fellow professional, always tailor and personalise your request email rather than using the default message. Personalising the message makes it look as if you have made the extra effort to connect and as such you reduce the risk of those people ignoring you who will automatically do so when they see the default message appear.
  • Leverage LinkedIn Applications
    LinkedIn has several applications which you can use to enhance your profile. Examples include the WordPress app which lets you sync blog posts with your LinkedIn profile or the SlideShare application that enables you to embed videos in your profile. The aim on LinkedIn is to create the most eye-catching profile so adding relevant applications that help you show your skills off is going to help you attract attention.
  • Keep Your LinkedIn Profile Up to Date
    Make sure at least once every 3 months you assess and update your LinkedIn Profile. Check all information is still relevant and correct and remember to always update your profile every time you receive an award, achievement or any other relevant information.
  • Synchronise your LinkedIn Profile and CV
    Take the extra time to be sure that extracts from your professional CV match perfectly with the information shown on LinkedIn’s Experience section. This is for consistency but also avoids the potential embarrassment of getting tripped up in an interview or when meeting with a potential client when it is discovered that what you claim on your CV does not match up with your LinkedIn Profile.
  • Keep It Professional at All Times
    LinkedIn is considered the most professional social media platform therefore it is expected that you conduct yourself professionally when you are interacting with others and sharing updates. Before you post a comment or share something remember that you are representing yourself in a business environment so if it isn’t relevant or could cause offence do not risk your reputation and post it.
  • Turn Off Notifications When Updating Your Profile
    When you are updating your profile with a lot of changes remember to temporarily disable notifications. The reason for this is it can become quite annoying for your connections to receive a stream of updates in a short period of time as you change and update your profile.
  • Regularly Connect with Your Connections
    Once you have a new connection don’t simply forget about them, make an effort to reach out and create and maintain a new relationship. This can be as simple as leaving a positive comment on their update or sending them a link to some information they might find useful. Not only is this polite and shows you are genuinely interested in maintaining your connections, it also makes yourself active in their mind and so they may instantly think of you for new business opportunities that arrive.
  • Introduce Your Connections to One Another
    If you have a connection that could provide value or be a useful contact for one of your other connections, then introduce them to one another. This is a great way for you to develop relationships and gain referrals for yourself.
  • Respond Promptly To Interactions
    As in any other situation, if someone interacts with you, be as prompt as possible with your response.
  • Connect Offline
    With so much networking and interacting conducted over the internet, it’s easy to get used to only interacting with others online and forget that the people we’re connecting with are not just a name and picture on our screen, they actually exist in the ‘real’ world. Online conversations however are not sufficient enough on their own to truly build relationships, networks and to get results. Rather, you need to make sure you get the most out of your new connections and make a good impression by putting in an effort to meet offline and talk with and meet the people who you’ve connected with.
  • Utilise LinkedIn Sponsored Updates
    Using Sponsored updates is a way of putting your content in front of key influencers and audiences on LinkedIn, ultimately helping you to build your credibility as an expert in your industry and helping you gain more exposure to those people who are not in your network. With sponsored updates you have the ability to narrowly limit the audience for your update by targeting your update by location, company category, job title, schools attended, LinkedIn groups and more. The comprehensive analytics that are provided also lets you determine just how effective your paid updates are, allowing to you make the most of your investment. The Metrics you are able to analyse range from Impressions, total spent, Clicks, to CTR (click-through rate) and CPC (cost per click). You also have the very useful ability to compare the effectiveness of your sponsored against non-sponsored updates on your company page’s analytics page. Metrics that you can track here range from the level of Interactions, Impressions, Clicks and Engagement. Looking at which can help you determine the rate at which your sponsored updates perform than your non-sponsored updates. The key to remember with sponsored updates however is that you need to sponsor posts that are highly valuable, engaging and informative to your target audience, to ensure you have a positive return on investment and help establish yourself and business as a leading thought expert in your industry.
  • Offer Value in Discussion Groups
    Being a member of relevant groups on LinkedIn allows you to interact with and participate in relevant discussions with other members who are in your industry or are of interest all within in a professional setting. LinkedIn discussion groups provide a valuable opportunity for marketers to establish themselves as thought leaders, learn more about their community and target audience and not to mention helping to generate leads. Make it a priority to stay active and contribute regularly in order to enrich discussions with valuable, informative and engaging content that engages and targets your audience’s needs. In doing so you help establish yourself as a valued and trusted source of information to your industry, help foster new connections, learn new and relevant news and could ultimately lead to new business opportunities.
  • Focus on Developing Relationships Rather Than Adding Connections
    You will get a lot more out of LinkedIn if you start to periodically reach out to your connections in your personal network in order to get to know them better and importantly develop relationships. Look to collaborate and share information with them, talk to and learn about them and their skill set/knowledge and ask questions to generally get to know them. The reasoning behind developing relationships is that once you both develop a bond and trust element between each other you become a trusted advisor to one other making it more likely that if an opportunity presents itself where you can help one another, recommend the others product or service you’re the first person they turn to. From your point of view, you have a specialist in an area to answer your questions on a topic, provide potential business opportunities to or to collaborate with on projects and in turn, you become the same for your connections. Ultimately, treating each individual as a human and getting to know them can develop into something greater from simply a new friendship, collaboration to even new business.
  • Don’t Treat LinkedIn as an Online Version of Your CV
    Whilst LinkedIn is a platform for showcasing you and your skillset, you should not treat it like an online version of your CV. Instead of creating your profile in the bog standard format of talking about yourself in a general sense like ‘here is where I went to school’ ‘this is the business I work for’ ‘this is what I do for a job’ etc. Look to instead craft your entire profile in way that clearly and concisely addresses, targets and fixes your target audience’s needs, making them have to take notice of you and is compelling enough to get the point across of why no one else but you can be the saviour to their problems/needs. For example in the job section don’t just simply state what you do in a generic sense, mould your answer to your specific target audience and instead write your section in the format of ‘‘I help [Insert Target Audience] achieve [Insert Their Desired Outcome] by providing [list product, skills and/or services you offer].’’



Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Listing Skills that LinkedIn Doesn’t Recognise
    When you start typing a skill on your LinkedIn profile, make sure it appears in the dropdown menu. If it doesn’t it is not a frequently searched item so make sure you stick to the thousands of skills LinkedIn already has in the system and your profile will pop up more often in search results.
  • Not Personalising Your LinkedIn Public Profile URL
    Many people leave the default mess of letters and numbers at the end of the URL. You need to change this to your name or as close as it you can come to it as it will make you appear more professional and enhance your personal brand.
  • Having No Photo or An Inappropriate Photo
    One of the biggest mistakes on a LinkedIn profile is to not use a photo or using one that is inappropriate. LinkedIn is a professional networking site so your photo should reflect your general industry and your personal professionalism. Ensure your picture is representative of you by being up to date, clear and good quality. Never make the mistake of failing to use a photo at all as this can easily lead to missed connections.
  • Sending Spammy Messages and Over Posting
    Remember to always share updates in the mind frame of helping and providing value to others. This means avoiding posting spammy and self-serving messages to your connections and especially not posting high quantities of updates a day.
  • Asking For or Giving People You Don’t Know Recommendations
    You should never ask for a recommendation or give one to someone that you don’t know and can’t personally vouch for. The reason being that if you give someone a recommendation that is actually a poor worker then it reflects badly on you for recommending them to others, similarly if someone gives you a recommendation that has a poor reputation this also will appear negatively on you.
  • Criticising and Commenting Negatively In Groups
    LinkedIn groups are a great place to make new connections and interact professionally with others, however if you act negatively posting rude, critical or offensive comments you harm your reputation and will miss out on potential business opportunities.
  • Posting Self-Serving Content in Your Groups
    LinkedIn Groups are to be used to share relevant, informative and interesting updates to other members, not for spamming your self-serving content. If you have a genuine piece of information that you know other members will find useful but is self-promoting in some way then you need to craft it in a way that ensures that the aim of the content is to provide value first.
  • Asking New Connections or People You Don’t Know To Endorse You
    It is very easy to give and receive endorsements from others on LinkedIn without thought and this is primarily why endorsements do not hold as much respect as recommendations do. So do not be tempted to go and endorse as many connections as possible in the hope that they return them to you. Rather only endorse those you can personally vouch for and preferably create a personal recommendation.
  • Treating LinkedIn Like Other Social Media Platforms
    LinkedIn etiquette is very different from other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It is widely accepted that LinkedIn is the most professional platform and as such you need to act as though you are a professional environment. This does not mean that you shouldn’t show a personality; rather just remember who your audience is as they are not likely to receive a meme of a cat for example in the same way as an audience on Facebook will.
  • Not Including Past Jobs or Volunteer Work
    Your profile needs to be a robust and complete picture of you in a professional setting, so even if you have changed fields you still need to include past examples of your work and the skills you acquired whilst there as it all works together to create an account of you and your skills. Similarly volunteering work can tell a potential employer or business prospect a lot about you as a person, your interests and what extra skills you have acquired outside of work so it is important that you include it within your profile taking care to elaborating on tasks you completed and skills acquired.
  • Lurking
    Many people set up a profile and assume that is enough to get you noticed. Rather, to truly get the most out of LinkedIn you need to make a conscious effort to be active in your groups, share content that engages your connections and maintain an up to date profile.
  • Not Utilising LinkedIn Groups
    LinkedIn groups are a great resource for building your knowledge base and connecting with individuals in similar industries. There is much to gain in terms of knowledge development, new connections and business opportunities by joining and being an active member of LinkedIn Groups, so make the effort to join groups that are relevant to you and your interests so you don’t miss out on these important benefits.
  • Not Making Sure Your Profile is 100% Complete
    Always make sure that your profile is 100% completed. If you fail to do so you will not only be harder to find on LinkedIn, you could potentially miss out on business opportunities and connections the result of which means you don’t get the full benefit of being on the network.
  • Never Modifying Your Profile
    You should always pay attention to the numbers at which people view your profile and how often you come up in search as if these numbers are low it shows you that you need to recapture the attention of others. You can do this by potentially updating your titles and your headline and revitalising your descriptions every so often to try and attract attention and capture additional search traffic.
  • Not Knowing the Difference Between a LinkedIn Profile and a LinkedIn Company Page
    There are two ways you can choose to have a presence on LinkedIn as a business owner. If you choose to create a company page you will be communicating as your business to others that have chosen to follow you and get updates from you to learn more about your business. With a LinkedIn Profile you will be communicating as an individual rather than as a business, allowing you to connect with clients, colleagues, and other members of your professional network.
  • Not Being Selective About the Connections You Accept
    The people who you have connected with on LinkedIn are a representation of you and shows to others the kind of professionals you associate with. From this it is important not to just accept and connect with anyone just to appear more popular, instead look to connect with people you can genuinely learn from or be a benefit to and make sure you know who they are and what their credentials are.
  • Not Sharing a Variety of Rich Media in Your Posts
    It is critical to embrace the visual and be creative with the updates you share by posting a variety of content types such as videos, infographics and SlideShare documents to engage and interest your connections. If you post unappealing, self-promoting content continually you will not attract the critical attention you need from others and will inevitably damage your reputation.
  • Not Promoting Your Profile to Others
    You could have put together the perfect LinkedIn profile but if you fail to tell others about it then you miss out on connecting with new prospects. So remember to promote your profile across all other social media including a badge on your website, putting a URL on business literature and packaging and including it on your e-newsletter and email signature.
  • Not Considering Your Search Optimisation (SEO) Efforts
    You need to consciously optimise your profile for SEO looking at the very least to have a completed profile and strategically place keywords throughout your profile. If you neglect your efforts and your profile is not SEO friendly then you risk losing crucial visibility and being highly ranked in search and seen by others.

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