Posted by: waynebreitbarth | July 23, 2011

Warning: LinkedIn May Be Hazardous to Your Brand

Looking for the deepest LinkedIn training dive ever? Well, I just happen to have that for you. On August 17th & 18th, I will be the instructor for “LinkedIn for Marketers,” an American Marketing Association event which is part of their Face to Face Marketing series. Click here to get more details and register. This is the only Midwest event for this year. I will be leading the same class in New Orleans in December.

 

The idea for this week’s tip comespersonal brand from a couple sources.  

 

The first one is comments I receive from people about things people do (or don’t do) on LinkedIn that drive them crazy.   

 

The second is my reading and research about the increasing importance of your personal brand now that social media is becoming more popular. I am constantly amazed by the fact that many people do not realize how their interactions on social media platforms can negatively affect their personal brand and ultimately their company’s brand.

 

So, in order to help you clean up your brand on LinkedIn, I offer you:

 

               The Top 12 LinkedIn Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Brand 

 

1.  Punctuation and grammar mistakes in profile

 

I learned this the hard way when some people made comments about grammatical errors in my profile. I thought to myself: What is the big deal? But the more I thought about it (and the more my wife badgered me about it), I came to realize I didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t caring and smart enough to have this right. After all, this was my online reputation on the line, and I want that to be as stellar as it can be.

 

I am not always perfect, but I am being much more diligent when it comes to grammar and punctuation.

 

2.  No photo or unprofessional photo

 

This is your professional identity. Why in the world wouldn’t you want that picture to be the best, most recent, closeup face shot that has ever been taken of you? This may be the only image of you a person ever sees.

 

For those of you who have no photo, let me leave you with two questions:

 

        A.  Do you want to be the little blue nubby head? I doubt it. I am quite certain you are more good looking than that.

 

        B.  If you are going through a LinkedIn search listing and you get to a person who does not have a photo, what do you do? Chances are you skip over him/her. I don’t really think you want people doing that to you.

 

3.  Conversations that should be taken offline

 

Some conversations are not appropriate to be taking place online. Don’t forget–we still have the telephone, email, and, yes, even snail mail for those critical personal conversations or confidential business exchanges.

 

4.  Not using the magic words “thank you” or “you’re welcome”

 

Our mothers taught us this. Enough said.

 

5.  Making unprofessional or “inside” comments in an introduction chain

 

Remember–everyone in the chain can see your comments, including the person in between your first-degree connection and the third-degree connection you are trying to get introduced to. Inappropriate comments to your close friend that can be read by people you don’t know is not only the quickest way to not get the introduction, but it will also give these people a very poor first impression of you.

 

6.  Asking for a recommendation or introduction from a very casual acquaintance

 

LinkedIn is your way to show your high level of credibility and expertise in the marketplace. If you include in your profile recommendations that do not have a lot of substance because the writer barely knows you or is not well acquainted with your work, the reader may assume you don’t know anyone who can write a first-class recommendation for you.

 

Before asking a casual acquaintance to make an introduction for you, spend some time getting to know him. Then he will be better able to make some positive comments about you to his friend whom you would like to meet.

 

7.  Using your Status Update to tweet

 

Whoever thought it was a good idea to have a Twitter/LinkedIn interface? Twitter is a completely different social media platform that has its own set of rules and acceptable etiquette. LinkedIn has a very different set of rules and acceptable practices. It is really not appropriate to have twenty status updates each day on LinkedIn, especially when most of them are about what you ate for lunch or the color of your new shirt or tie.

 

This is a business site, and we all need to do our parts to keep it that way. Otherwise it will just turn into Facebook, and then we may all retreat to our old worlds where social media didn’t exist.

 

8.  Using the Summary section in your profile as just a laundry list of keywords

 

That is not to say that your important keywords shouldn’t be in your summary–they most definitely should be part of your summary. But your summary is meant to be that all-important cover letter to your viewers, and they need to hear and see you as a real person. Simply putting a list of words makes it look like you are just the latest computer program from Steve Jobs or something.

 

9.  Only posting one job

 

Unless you have only had one job, it sure looks like you are trying to hide something from someone.

 

10.  Not taking criticism professionally

 

Criticism is most likely to occur as part of a discussion in either Groups or Answers. Take a deep breath and come back to the entry an hour later, and then respond to the criticism in a way that the rest of the readers will respect. Remember–the whole world may be watching–well, maybe not the whole world but certainly important connections who may be influenced in a negative manner by a harsh response.

 

11.  Not having your most important jobs in your headline

 

Your headline is a very important part of your profile because it travels with you wherever you go on LinkedIn. Do you really want your headline to say that you volunteer part time at an animal shelter instead of saying you are the president of your own company? Probably not.

 

You can decide what goes in your headline. However, if you don’t generate your own entry, LinkedIn will default your entry to the most recent item in the Experience section of your profile. Don’t let this happen to you. Be creative, and craft a headline that includes your most important position along with some additional marketing punch.

 

12.  Not having a company profile

 

This is like not having a company website. If I search for your company and you are not there, it must mean you are not open for business. Case closed! 

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