Ahhhhhh, good ol’ LinkedIn. Interesting discussions, the ability to network worldwide with like-minded professionals, and the opportunity to read some amazing things that might actually help you professionally.
But alas, some people still haven’t figured out how to use LinkedIn the right way. There are scam artists (often easily identified by the low number of connections, no filled-out profile and an overly eager sales tone to their e-mails). It’s smart to be careful and check somebody’s profile before you connect and avoid connecting with someone you don’t know and probably never will. Some people skip these steps, but you shouldn’t if you want LinkedIn to do what it was designed to do.
Sit yourselves down, my young grasshoppers, and I shall relay the expertise gained over my years on LinkedIn:
- If you’re sharing a story or image created by another person through the “Share an Update” feature, refer to them by name. They may often see that you listed their name and they’ll appreciate the free publicity.
- Do NOT, repeat NOT, use LinkedIn to fish around for potential dates. I’ve seen it happen to both men and women. Nothing creepier than a complete stranger who you’ve never EVER met complimenting you on your appearance and wanting a date. Can we say “blocked from LinkedIn”?
- DO post interesting stories or artwork regularly. It’s good for SEO and yes, people do read what you post. Some people have said they like what I’m posting (in my case, mostly social media, marketing, writing or editing material) because it has helped them or made them think a different way.
- DO personalize your connection requests. If you’ve met someone at a networking event, remind them that you met there or mention something you talked about. When someone’s at a networking event and meeting a lot of people, it can be hard to remember who was who. Personalization of a connection request always helps in this situation.
- Talk with people before you agree to connect. It helps to weed out the strange ones.
- If you’re blogging on LinkedIn, please check your work for accuracy — the facts, the spelling, the grammar, everything. Please. This is one place where you definitely don’t want to make a bad impression on anybody who sees your work.
- One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about LinkedIn was to do one thing for one person in your network every day. It’s easy and it only takes a minute or two. I’ll send somebody a link to a website that might interest them, congratulate them on an achievement or simply ask how they’re doing.
LinkedIn can be a place to promote a business and find a job or stay competitive in your field. But it’s also an amazing chance to find information you might have otherwise missed and communicate with people who are interested in the same professional areas as you. It’s worth the time to build those human-to-human connections. And that is what brings you business and friendships.