LinkedIn is the linchpin for social media networking. Although many have sworn by Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is superseding these platforms when it comes to building an effective professional network.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram, where users end up sharing memes and a whole lot of personal content, LinkedIn is to be used for purely professional purposes. However, like every other digital medium, you have to know how to use it to its maximum potential. Too often, people join LinkedIn in hopes of forming connections with influential people, which never fall through because they do not put in enough effort to achieve this. On LinkedIn, you don’t just send or receive a friend request and start talking about the weather.
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Using LinkedIn to your professional advantage demands a very different kind of strategy, and this involves avoiding the following mistakes:
Many LinkedIn users do not know how to network correctly. As a new user, you may be tempted to accept all invitations headed your way because the generic belief of ‘the bigger, the better’ has been ingrained in all of us. However, the concept of ‘filtering’ is very important here. You need to keep an eagle-eye out for the connections which you genuinely think will help you in your professional career.
For instance, if you are a budding journalist and you receive two invites – one from an editor at XXX News and one from a Marketing Manager at ZZZ Pvt. Limited – you should naturally accept the former and reject the latter since connecting with someone from your field can take you miles ahead, as opposed to connecting with someone you have no common professional element with. Keep your circle niche and reach out only to professionals who can help you advance in your field.
Misuse of keywords
One of LinkedIn’s many advantages is that it allows you to select keywords that can be related to your profession and experience, when other users search for you. For instance, if you are a Marketing Manager, then keywords like ‘sales’, ‘marketing strategy’, ‘research’ and ‘social media marketing’ will help revert a search for the same to your profile, making the browsing experience easier. However, in the process of latching keywords to speak about your skill and profession, you may be tempted to overuse them in order to ‘increase’ your value in the networking space. For instance, in the cited example, you do not need to add keywords like ‘go-getter’, ‘highly ambitious’ and more because not only is that a given, it also makes you seem unpolished and unprofessional.
Missing/inappropriate profile pictures
You may not think that the picture you put up for LinkedIn is worth a second’s thought, but you would be surprised at how defining it is when it comes to the networking process. Firstly, nobody will be willing to connect with someone who has a blank picture as a representative of their professional selves. Secondly, they will also not be willing to network with someone who, for instance, has a zoomed out picture where the face is blurred, or an animated character, or an inappropriate picture where the person might look intoxicated or wearing the wrong kind of clothes. Research shows that a profile with a picture of the user’s face has more views than one without because it helps them stand out from the millions of other users with similar names, delving into the same network to build their contacts.
Using it for fun
This is not your typical social media platform where you can update statuses about your life and post pictures from that wild Friday night. Here, you will be judged on the basis of every punctuation in your profile details, every message you send out to potential contacts as well as every link you deem fit to share. Hence, using this platform to connect with people for anything but professional purposes, like potential dating or any other ‘social’ intentions, is a total waste of time.
Reaching out to strangers without a plan
On a platform like Facebook, the concept of starting a random chat once you have sent or received a friend request is quite natural. However, the same cannot be stated for a professional platform like LinkedIn, where the general assumption is that everyone looking to build a connection is busy and not looking to waste any time in idle conversation.
When you are looking to reach out to the top layer of professionals – CEOs and the like – you shouldn’t just send them a random invitation to ‘add to their professional network’. These people have all the contacts they need, so they will not be responding to yet another one of the hundreds of random invites they receive each day. However, if you plan it carefully and first reach out to a common connection and then ask them for an introduction to the said person, chances are that they will be more inclined to get back to you.
These are just the top few and most recurring mistakes that all LinkedIn users are sure to make at one time or another. The trick is to use the platform regularly and learn to adopt strategies daily, which will work to your maximum advantage.
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