If you aren’t getting the results you are looking for, it’s highly possible you’re making one (or several) LinkedIn mistakes that are turning off potential clients. Turning people off doesn’t always have to provoke a dramatic response that involves the other person slandering your business on Yelp but even in its most harmless form, it hurts your bottom line.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression and when you waste it on making rookie LinkedIn mistakes, you’ve already shut the door on what could have been a mutually beneficial relationship.
Take a few minutes to review the 19 most common LinkedIn mistakes I see to make sure you aren’t making any of them. It could be the difference between making or breaking your next sale.
1. Your Profile Is Incomplete
An incomplete profile does nothing to build your credibility with prospects on LinkedIn, so why even bother? Yes, it’s no small task to thoughtfully fill out your entire profile and ensure it has impact in a way that speaks to your specific target market but it’s important.
If you want a simple way to get to a complete and optimized profile, check out the 21 Steps To A Perfect LinkedIn Profile.
2. Using Vague Information On Your Profile
Be as specific as possible when describing what you do and the exact type of people that you can help. I don’t just say what I do; I mention the exact types of people (by title) who I work with so that my target audience can immediately self-identify themselves as a match for my services.
3. Not Optimizing Your Profile For Search
What use is finishing your profile if no one will ever find it? You use Google to find content and information but you only use LinkedIn search to find people. This requires taking a slightly different approach to the “keyword optimization” you might be used to with SEO for your website.
Choose 2-3 primary keywords that describe your occupation (for example: “divorce lawyer” or “sales trainer”) and ensure they come up in all the areas suggested in the 21 Steps To The Perfect LinkedIn Profile.
4. Sending Connection Requests Without A Personal Note
This is one of the more paralyzing LinkedIn mistakes. It only takes a few people reporting “I Don’t Know This Person” for LinkedIn to restrict your account where you will no longer be able to connect with someone if you don’t know their email address. By adding a personal note you can avoid this happening in most cases.
Your personal note doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, simply say why you think it would be great to connect and mention something you share in common i.e. you are both members of the same LinkedIn group, have a lot of mutual connections in the industry, etc.
5. Unprofessional (or Non-Existent) Profile Picture
I’m not sure which is worse, having an unprofessional profile picture or not having one at all. The choice between coming off as an amateur or a spammer are not exactly the greatest options. You should be dressed the way you would look when trying to impress clients or if you were applying for a dream job.
Do yourself a favor and pay for a professional headshot. Not someone with a really nice camera and photoshop, somebody that takes pictures for a living. I wish we lived in a world where books weren’t judged by their covers but they are, so make sure your cover looks good.
6. Keyword Stuffing Your Profile
Keyword stuffing is the dirtiest sin among all LinkedIn mistakes. LinkedIn’s search algorithm works like old school search engines – the more you repeat a specific keyword or phrase, the higher you will rank for it when people search those terms.
Does it work? Absolutely but it looks terrible. People who would have become clients will immediately move on from your profile thinking that your keyboard got stuck on “CNTL + V” when you were filling it out. You need to be building your credibility more than you need to be ineffectively abusing LinkedIn’s search algorithm. Remember, prospects actually need to be impressed once they land on your profile.
7. Asking For Recommendations From Strangers
If you see a strange man in a white van asking you for a LinkedIn recommendation, what do you say? The same thing you say to a random person on LinkedIn asking you for a recommendation!
People who are truly credible do not want fake recommendations to dim the glow of their legitimate ones.
8. Sending (Obvious) Mass Messages
If it is relevant to each individual, I will occasionally send messages to several people at once on LinkedIn. Another one of the most fatal LinkedIn mistakes comes when you forget to uncheck the box that says, “Allow recipients to see each other’s names and email addresses.” This will ensure that everyone knows you sent a mass message, further degrading that personal touch we all crave on social media.
9. Don’t Ask For Facebook Likes/Twitter Followers
It drives me utterly crazy to see people doing this. Do not ask people to follow you on Twitter or “Like” your Facebook page. Many people that use LinkedIn don’t even use Facebook or Twitter. This comes across as desperate and tacky and will not serve you in building a relationship with your new connection. I don’t know about you but “desperate” nor “tacky” are words I ever want associated with my business.
10. Selling Before “Hello”
Do you shove your business card into someone’s hand before you shake it and ask them to buy your stuff? Of course not, so why would you try to pitch your services prior to building any rapport with someone online?
Listen, I love social media marketing and especially LinkedIn but it drives me crazy when people use it so poorly and start to sales pitch immediately. You need to develop relationships with people in the exact same way you do so in real life. Do you remember the first time you got a referral for business? It wasn’t from somebody that just heard of you 10 seconds ago.
11. Going Off Topic In LinkedIn Groups
There are thousands upon thousands of LinkedIn groups out there so it’s important for you to spend the time to find the right ones that contain your target market. Once you find some relevant groups, it’s important that you don’t cause discourse in the group’s conversations. Make sure that everything you post inside any group has clear and specific value for the members or else it will likely be deleted and/or flagged as spam.
12. Posting Links In Groups Without Starting A Conversation
If you are following the rules posted by group admins, you likely won’t make this mistake because all the best groups reject self-promotional links. Your article might be relevant to the group but remember that the focus of the group is discussion so you must create a conversation around your post. This is not only a successful tactic for getting more traffic to your website but also results in higher group engagement and happy group moderators.
13. Saying “I See You Viewed My Profile”
This is kind of creepy sometimes. I personally find it strange when someone messages me saying, “I see you viewed my profile…”
If someone is interested in reaching out to you, they will. If your profile isn’t doing a great job of converting prospects that read it, you may have to revise your LinkedIn profile. If you have seen someone view your profile and you want to connect with them, go ahead and do so with a personal note but please omit “I see you viewed my profile.”
Nobody likes a liar and anybody can easily investigate when things seem a little fishy. There’s nothing wrong with positioning yourself to attract the right audience until it contains a lie. It takes years to build a reputation and only one lie to tear it all down.
15. Not Posting Status Updates Daily
LinkedIn status updates are a great and simple way to deliver value to your connections by sharing relevant content on a daily basis. Your consistency over time will convince your prospects that you are an authority on the subject. It will also help to keep you top of mind to your network.
16. Being Negative
Negativity is not something you EVER want to exude anywhere within your online presence. It looks especially out of place on LinkedIn, an area that’s dominated by professional conversation.
17. Not Claiming Your Custom URL
You might be out of luck if your name is John Smith but the rest of you need to act fast to get a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile. Unless you are in fact the only person on the planet with your name’s exact spelling, you might end up having to settle for something less than perfect if you don’t get your preferred URL first.
18. Not Customizing Link Names on Your Profile
As you can see in the picture right above, I customized the links on my profile to say “Social Media Marketing” and “Social Media Speaker” instead of my business name. These links both direct to places where people can learn more about the two services I primarily offer. The third link is to drive traffic to a free LinkedIn webinar.
Depending on your business or website name, it might not be entirely obvious what can be found at the other end of a click. Using the custom text to say what you’re promoting rather than your brand name can be useful in this circumstance.
19. Forgetting That LinkedIn Is All Business
Posting funny memes, family photos and even seemingly harmless satirical articles on LinkedIn might seem like a good idea at first but I strongly advise against it. The fact is that there are more than enough forums for that content elsewhere and LinkedIn is strictly business for the overwhelming majority of users. Keep it business-oriented and stay classy.
LinkedIn Mistakes: What Is The Biggest LinkedIn Mistake?
Think about when someone reaches out or interacts with you on LinkedIn, what are some of the biggest turn offs you have experienced in communication or when you looked at their profile? Let us know in the comments below.