DOs and DON’Ts for LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 200+ million members.  Its goal is to help you manage your professional identity, build and engage with your professional network, and access knowledge, insights and opportunities.
Many job seekers, though, are still confused about what exactly to do with LinkedIn and how to correctly proceed.  In an earlier post I gave several ideas about using LinkedIn. As a follow-up to it, here are 10 DOs and DON’Ts for LinkedIn to help you become more confident in using it while avoiding potential mistakes.

Do have a profile.  If you’re working, or hope to be, then you should have one.  It’s free, easy to set up, and allows you to be findable.  I’d strongly encourage you to get your profile as complete as possible, too.

Don’t pay for the extra services.  It is important to fight the urge to look for short cuts or to try to somehow “buy” your next job.  Personal networking has been and always will be the best way to find the best opportunities.

Do add a picture on the profile.  LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, but you should have one appropriate photo.   If you’re unsure about what to include, look at several from people that you consider to be successful in your field as a guide.

Don’t hide your contacts from others.  Networking is a two-way street.  One big value of Linkedin is to be able to see whom the people in your network are connected to, so you should be willing to allow others to do the same with yours.

Do reach out to all the people you do know and get connected.  Make sure you connect with family, friends, and especially past and present co-workers.  You never know where your next opportunity may come from, so make the effort to be connected.

Don’t try connecting with people you don’t know.  LinkedIn isn’t a popularity contest.  The goal should be to develop good relationships with others first, and then be connected with them so you can stay in touch going forward.

Do connect with new people soon after meeting them.  When you meet someone new that you’d like to stay in touch with, send them an invite soon afterwards.  You don’t want to forget them or lose touch, and it is better than a business card in the case they or you change jobs.

Don’t send the generic “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network” message when trying to connect.  Be memorable and take the time to personalize it with your own words instead.

Do research companies and people.  It is a smart move to learn as much as you can about the firms you’re interested in and the backgrounds of the people they’ve hired.  Then you should use your network to help make appropriate introductions to hiring managers.

Don’t use it as a replacement for face-to-face contact.  People hire people, not profiles, so it is important to spend time with others.  You can only learn so much over social networks, and personal contact is still a must.

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