1. The Wrong Photo
Your photo gives people a few clues to you and your personality so it’s vital that you get it right.
On a professional site like LinkedIn it is important to present a professional front, so please no family shots. Save those for Facebook. A recent head and shoulders shot, perhaps at work, helps people connect with you. I’ve seen some profile photos that have gimmicky effects this is s no-no. I also think you should stay away from cartoons of yourself, company logos and images of the product you sell.
But the worst crime of all is no photo of all. To me that just say you can’t be bothered and aren’t really taking networking seriously.
T2. Your profile doesn’t contain enough detail
Your profile should let visitors know who you are. I recommend that this includes areas that highlight all your career milestones and provide an opportunity to add keywords into your profile.
Begin your profile with your elevator pitch. There’s no reason it shouldn’t work the same way on your profile as it does when you’re talking to someone face to face. The rest of your summary should answer key questions: “Who you are”, “How you help people”, and “How they can help you”.
One area of missed opportunity is failing to add in your previous employment. People want to know the path you travelled from college to your current position. Not including this might raise questions with the person reading it. There’s also an opportunity to include keywords into your job descriptions.
Use your summary to add information like specialties, interests and awards. You might also consider including your phone number and your personal contact information. When you write job descriptions write them from the perspective of how that job contributed to making you better at what you do today.
T3. Ignoring Applications
Ignore LinkedIn’s applications at your peril. They are there to take your profile from two dimensions to three.
The basic LinkedIn profile is just a lot of text. Yes, it tells people all of the relevant information but I believe it’s always better to “Show, don’t tell”. Applications give you the opportunity to show what it is that you do.
You can post a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, add a video, feed in your blog, add PDF files or Word documents, announce and RSVP Events, conduct Polls, share the books you’re reading (Amazon), and your Twitter feed. Adding any of these apps’ brings your profile to life, it adds an extra dimension.
You can communicate a message or information in whatever format you choose on LinkedIn. Start going through your resources to see what information will help you tell others what it is that you do and how you can help them.
If you don’t have a blog try WordPress, it’s easy to use. You can also try creating a presentation to share, just be sure to make it interesting by including more than just bullet points. Load up those brochures, white papers, and one-pagers.
T4. Not Asking for Recommendations
Recommendations are a clear indication that you do a good job and know what you are talking about. It’s crucial that you build then up. There’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t be able have 10 recommendations. Most people don’t get any recommendations because they sit back and wait for someone to take the initiative. You have to take the initiative.
When you begin working with a new client connect with them on LinkedIn. Once you’ve finished the project send them a recommendation request. Keep the request simple and mention the work you did for them and then state “I’m using LinkedIn to build my online brand. If you feel the work that I did on your behalf exceeded your expectations I would appreciate your taking a moment to write a brief recommendation.”
5. Fail to Join Enough Relevant Groups
You are allowed to join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. This will give you access to thousands of potential new customers. Using these groups you can join discussion or post your own; you can also add news articles and relevant articles.
Groups are a great place to engage in conversations and cultivate new relationships. The key is to find as many groups as possible that are relevant to your business. Go to the Groups’ directory and search for relevant groups. These might be ones that are alumni, industry, location, networking, topical, etc. Be sure to think about the groups your prospects would belong to and join.
Then you simply need to start engaging fellow group members through discussions and news articles.
T6. Overlooking Answers
One of the keys in social media/networking is to seek out opportunities to share or provide value to others. LinkedIn Answers is the perfect vehicle to do so. Each day thousands of new questions are asked. You need to find the questions that surround your industry or specialty and share your knowledge.
There are several benefits to answering questions. You’re building good will with the person who asked the question and potentially everyone else that reads your answer. You have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise. Your answers are also linked to your profile this is then seen by profile visitors.
Go to LinkedIn Answers and search for questions related to what you do for a living. Then start answering questions. Be sure to include a link back to your site or blog in your answer. When you answer a question traffic to your blog should increases. Most categories also have a RSS feed. You can set up a RSS reader that will display the latest questions asked in the category. Use the Google RSS reader to check for new questions every morning.
Remember, everything you do or say on LinkedIn impacts on your brand.
7. Selling Directly
No one is looking to be sold to directly on LinkedIn, they are hoping to build new relationships. That doesn’t mean there are no opportunities to sell.
It just means you’ll have more success communicating your messages indirectly. The one exception is with your status. It will be interesting to see if this changes with the new Twitter integration.
Take advantage of the opportunities to communicate your message indirectly. One way to do this is to change your title to a tagline. Your title tells people who you are, the tag line tells them how you can help them. Plus your tag line is visible in a mini profile when you answer questions, post discussions, or add news articles.
Starting conversation using the discussion boards is a great way to interact with fellow group members. Adding news articles allows you to share value through the content. Over time people will get to know you. If they like your content they’ll begin to like you and check out your profile.
Share tips and articles consistently over time and people will begin to develop trust.
If you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. Visit www.linkedintraining.co.uk and www.kintish.co.uk for further free and valuable information on all aspects of networking.