Entrepreneurs use LinkedIn for various reasons– some use it for brand building, some use it to connect with VCs and angel investors, while some just have a LinkedIn account because their friend told them to create one. But regardless of the reasons one may be on LinkedIn, there are a few things that people end up doing that aren’t considered to be the best practices on LinkedIn. It’s important to avoid these on your LinkedIn profiles, because, as an entrepreneur, personal branding is something that goes a long way in branding your company as well, and making sure people see you the right way and want to do business with you. Here are five things that you could be doing wrong on LinkedIn:
1. Accepting every connection that comes your way
Back in 2009, when people were just getting used to LinkedIn and understanding what it can do, it was all about garnering connections and expanding the network- people thus resorted to accepting every connection that came their way. But this model has changed- in 2016, it’s all about making the right connections, and focusing more on quality over quantity. Be selective about whom you connect with. Given a choice, I’d rather connect with a senior management professional, than a fresh graduate who’s on a connection spree. Don’t get me wrong –I do connect with fresh graduates and help them with anything and everything that I can– as long as I see them making an effort in what they are doing. For example, if a fresh graduate with a good LinkedIn profile connected with me, I’d be more than happy to start a relation with them.
2. Using a Facebook-esque profile picture as your LinkedIn profile picture
LinkedIn is a professional networking website– so, let’s keep it that way. Unless you’re someone like Tom Cruise, having a picture of yourself wearing a shiny pair of sunglasses on your profile isn’t the best idea. Keep your pictures professional; use images that showcase you as the professional someone would want to do business with. This is all the more important if you’re an entrepreneur that’s using LinkedIn to grow your business and looking for investment opportunities from VCs. Think about it: would you prefer doing business with the guy in a well-tailored suit, or a guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a drink in his hand?
3. Using LinkedIn for non-professional purposes
A lot of male LinkedIn users have been accused of using the platform as a tool to talk to women and ask them out. For obvious reasons, these people have been publically shamed, and it definitely affects the person’s professional image. Keep LinkedIn professional, and use it only for business and making relevant connections.
4. Put out job openings on your LinkedIn updates
Your team is what makes your company; we get that. But when you go on LinkedIn and push out an update looking for talent, you’ll receive a lot of comments with people applying for the position you have just declared open- this is an ineffective way of doing things, because, one, you can’t keep track of who is who and what each person has done, and second, you get endless notifications that just consume your time. A better way of doing this would be to post the opening on your company’s LinkedIn page. Anyone thus looking to join your company will immediately see this position under the careers section of its LinkedIn page, and can apply accordingly.
5. Using “I’d like to add you to my professional network” as your introduction
This is by far the worst and the most common mistake that people make on LinkedIn– not adding an introductory note when connecting with someone for the first time. LinkedIn by default has a generic message going out– I personally receive a few LinkedIn requests to connect every day, and I don’t go and see the profile of every individual that I’m connecting to. As a result, it’s best if you mention a couple of lines when you connect with me: introduce yourself and a few lines that would help me reach out to you when I need you and vice-versa. That’s the essence of being “actually connected,” versus being “just a LinkedIn connection.” If you can keep your introduction crisp, it’ll also help the other person know your expertise, and get in touch with you with any requirements that they may have later on. How many times have you heard people say, “There’s this guy on my LinkedIn; he knows about this– let me connect you to him.” Help these people remember you better.
LinkedIn is a very powerful platform– by making sure you don’t make the above mistakes, you’ll have a better LinkedIn profile, be more approachable and eventually help shape the future of you as an entrepreneur as well as the company that you’re running. In today’s world, your online branding plays a very important role in a lot of things that you do– and having a great LinkedIn profile would definably aid in that.