LinkedIn is that strangest of things – a social networking site where you only connect to people you do business with (and we don’t mean like on Tinder).
As a social site, LinkedIn is all about connecting with, and widening, your work and business networks. So you’ll end up connecting with everyone from Derek in Accounts, to the CEO of a pipe-lagging business you met at that conference in Dudley. LinkedIn also shows you how closely you’re connected to other LinkedIn users, like some odd business-card version of ‘Six degrees of Kevin Bacon’.
In the LinkedIn universe (linkiverse?), a first contact is someone in your network, and a second contact is someone who’s bezza mates with one of your contacts. This ability to ‘stalk’ business contacts means LinkedIn has become a favourite tool of thrusting, aspirational sales managers who desperately want to ‘get an in’ with the Operations Buyer of their current number one target business.
So, if you’re going to actually get something useful out of this sea of business contacts and ex-colleagues, here are the dos and don’ts for using LinkedIn.
- Write a profile that grabs the attention. A short, concise personal statement, like you would find at the top of a CV will do just fine.
- Try not to sound like too much of a corporate clone. Make your LinkedIn profile concise, to the point and with an accurate explanation of who you are and what you do. And do put a photo of yourself on there so people know what you look like – remember, with social media, personality is everything and a human face (however hideous) is a big part of your online persona.
- Use LinkedIn as more than just an online CV. People used to use the site as somewhere to ‘show off their wares’ when they’d had enough of their current employer and were ready to jump ship. There’s still an element of this (recruiters LOVE LinkedIn as it does all the hard work of finding suitable candidates for them) but LinkedIn is much more about highlighting your skills, telling people what you do and generally making yourself sound like the slightly less egotistical winner of ‘The Apprentice’. So read our CV tips here.
- Send contacts a personal message when you’re adding them. It will help them place you and increases the chances they’ll want to connect with you. A simple ‘We met at that pipe lagging conference in Dudley, and I was interested in how you fill your tubes’ will probably suffice.
- Add in your statement the sort of work you are looking for, but check who you’re connected with first. There’s nothing worse than saying you’re looking for a new job, to then remember you’re still ‘connected’ to your current boss.
- Keep it professional. This isn’t Facebook for mates, this is for colleagues and networking. And, on that note, be very careful who you connect to – do you really want to be hounded by Derek the pipe lagger, just because you shared a beer once.
- Get someone else to write your profile – it’s a cardinal sin when it comes to LinkedIn. If you get your personal assistant/bored intern/mum to write your account profile, it’s not going to be a very accurate reflection of you, your style or your particular skills – it’s more likely to sound like someone kissing your arse. Take some time out from world domination and write this yourself. Be honest, big up your good points and don’t mention bankruptcy/court cases/lack of formal qualifications or anything that might detract from your majestic rise to business stardom and well-deserved riches.
- Leave your photo blank! This is a social media site and the managers you’re meeting from that logistics company next Thursday will be Googling you to try and see what your ugly mug looks like. Find a headshot that looks professional, approachable and try not to grimace too badly.
- Get too trigger happy with the shares and updates. Posting a few links to interesting articles occasionally is fine, but the people in your network REALLY don’t want to see every recent article you’ve come across shared in their timeline. Be selective and don’t bore people.
- Feel you have to list every job you ever did and a full list of all your skills. Yes, Linkedin is sort of like a CV/resume but it’s not a place to copy and paste your job description.
- Slag off your current or previous companies, colleagues or circumstances – remember this is a business site where professional standards will be expected of you.
- Under no circumstances use the phrases ‘show off your wares’ or ‘thrusting sales professional’ unless you work for Ann Summers/LoveHoney.