One of the most fun (albeit “cringey”) tips I cover during my corporate LinkedIn training session is: The biggest mistakes you may be making on LinkedIn.

As we all know by now, LinkedIn is the professional network. It’s not Facebook, it’s not Twitter and it’s not Snapchat. Since this is the site where professionals are connecting with other professionals, before you click “post”, you should ask yourself “Will this help or hinder my professional presence?”

When your prospects research you online (and they are searching for you!), what is the first impression you want them to see?

Some of the biggest mistakes you may be making on your LinkedIn profile are:

Mistake #1: You are missing a photo, or have one that is very unprofessional.

I am developing quite a database of inappropriate LinkedIn “headshots” including:

  • “selfies” (with and without duck face)
  • images that feature the whole family
  • people whose tongues are sticking out
  • people wearing sunglasses
  • vacation photos and/or “action shots” such as sport photos
  • men not wearing shirts and women in bikinis

LinkedIn says you’re 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a photo.

While I strongly encourage people invest in a professional photographer, many of us have smartphones and can take a simple photo against a white background.

Your first impression speaks volumes about your professionalism. Ensure you appear confident, approachable. Dress appropriately; wear clothing in the photo that you would wear to a meeting.

Mistake #2: Not telling your story or optimizing your LinkedIn Summary.

Telling your professional story on LinkedIn is one of the greatest opportunities you have for impressing your prospects before you even meet.

LinkedIn is the channel where you’re SUPPOSED to include your accomplishments, and everyone wants to work with the best in your industry, so be sure to include a compelling bio that is written with the reader in mind. Why should they care? How can you help them?

Ensure you write the copy to “wow” and impress the reader.

Mistake #3: Typos and grammatical errors

On Sesame Street, Big Bird used to sing “Everyone makes mistakes” (oh yes they do!), but when it comes to putting your professional presence online, it’s important to have someone proofread your profile for any grammatical errors or typos.

Sometimes you just need another set of eyes to look through it so there are no glaring errors.

Mistake #4: Spamming your connections and/or pitching your business as soon as you make a new connection.

(This one is the WORST!!)

Pitching your business right away is extremely annoying to the recipient, and your new connection may even block or report you.

Sales and marketing is a process. Relationships and trust are built over time. Forrester Research says it takes 11.4 touchpoints before you even begin to build brand resonance.

Make connections based on value: can you bring value to your connection before you ask for them to invest in your products/services?

Do you due diligence and get to know your connections. What can you do to be of service? Can you introduce them to someone in your network? Can you provide them with an article that can help them with their business?

Never – EVER – “Pitch Slap”.

Mistake #5: Sending generic connection requests.

LinkedIn now makes it quite easy to personalize your connection request. Find an “icebreaker” or let the person know why you wish to connect with them on LinkedIn.

  • Do you know someone in common or have something in common with them?
  • Did you go the same school?
  • Did you see something on their profile that made you curious?

Each different touchpoint and micro-moment that provides value deepens rapport.

Mistake #6: Clicking LIKE on, or posting status updates that have nothing to do with business.

My biggest pet peeve is seeing people post photos that as you to post “what’s the first word you see?” Or, “if you can figure out this math problem, you’re a genius!” When I see people posts or engage with this kind of content, I wonder if they are actually doing any work, or are they just goofing around on the Internet all day.

And please, for heaven’s sake, save the #TBT (Throwback Thursday) posts for Instagram or Facebook.

Mistake #7: Never backing up your data.

It’s one of those things on your to-do list that you know you should be doing, but keep putting off, right?

If LinkedIn ever decides to limit the access to your connections, you’ll have lost all that incredible information. Here’s a quick overview about how to back up your information. (Note: This video includes background music)

LinkedIn may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Stay away from making these mistakes, build a solid first impression that fascinates your connections and continue to build and nurture relationships and this site can be one of the most powerful sales and marketing tools for your brand and your business.

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Now it’s YOUR turn: What are the biggest cringeworthy things you see on LinkedIn?

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Leslie Hughes is a LinkedIn Optimization Specialist, Professor of Social Media, Corporate Trainer, Principal of PUNCH!media and author of the book “CREATE. CONNECT. CONVERT.”

Leslie was called a “Social Media Guru” by CBC Radio and was featured on CTV’s “The Social” discussing how to manage your digital identity. Leslie has been working in digital marketing since 1997 and founded PUNCH!media in 2009.

PUNCH!media clients include Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, Investment Planning Counsel, and RBC.

Whether it’s through LinkedIn training or profile optimization, PUNCH!media’s goal is to empower executives with a powerful online presence so they can brand their business properly and convert higher-paying clients.

www.punchmedia.ca leslie (at) punchmedia.ca

Get your free LinkedIn Time Management tip sheet at www.punchmedia.ca