Written by: Ife Akintobi

There is no doubt that LinkedIn helps people’s careers immensely. Recently, however, a lot of people have complained about how they aren’t benefiting from the platform, despite their efforts to network and progress their careers. According to them, this is because they do not seem to understand how to use the site well enough.

When I first signed up on Linkedin, I was lost. It looked way different from the other social media platforms I was used to and I had no idea what to do. I believe this is a common dilemma that most new users face. The major reason why people struggle to use LinkedIn  I believe is that they are doing all of the wrong things, or treating it like every other social network when in reality, it is unique and cannot be compared. After some personal research and implementing changes on my LinkedIn profile which worked for me (I have ALL-STARS on my profile, yaay!), I have come up with 7 things I believe you should avoid doing on LinkedIn

Not Having A Clear Purpose: People visit LinkedIn for three major reasons – To get noticed by employers and get hired, To attract the right employees/investors and To build a professional image. Your reason for being on LinkedIn must be within these three tenets, and truly guys, there’s no way you can avoid it. You must choose one or more of these three reasons in order to enjoy the platform.  

Being Unprofessional: This is something that your clear reason for joining LinkedIn should guide you against. I see how a lot of people complain about the way people act unprofessionally in their inbox by asking them out on dates, demanding for information without prior engagement, and having a sense of entitlement due to brief communication. Like I said earlier, if you are joining LinkedIn to get noticed and hired, you cannot afford to be impolite to potential employers. Treat every interaction as a virtual interview because it probably could be one. Also, as LinkedIn is a professional networking site, this means there are things you shouldn’t share, or discuss. Walking your dog, or talking about what you had for dinner are things that are not suitable for LinkedIn.

Focusing On Only Yourself: Social media is a way to connect with your audience, share your personal experiences and engage in a two-way conversation. Just because LinkedIn is a professional network, doesn’t mean that you should focus on JUST talking about yourself. You will get more out of LinkedIn if you focus on helping others, as much as how you seek help for yourself. You can tag someone that is seeking employment on a post regarding job openings, you can also congratulate people on their new jobs, as well as contribute to interesting conversational threads on LinkedIn.                             

Poor LinkedIn Profile: Just like the way you will get turned off by seeing a poorly cooked meal, is the way people who check a poorly-crafted LinkedIn profile will feel like. You cannot afford to use wrong spellings and grammar on your “LinkedIn Bio”, and just like your resume, your LinkedIn profile should be free of spelling and grammar issues. Also, the absence of a profile photo on your profile can create questions about the authenticity of your profile. Note that no one is going to stop and read a profile if it looks like a giant chunk of text so I would advise you use headings and bullet lists to create spaces in order to make your profile easy to scan and read. Finally, update your profile regularly, and add new certifications and experiences as soon as you earn them.

Failure To Build Connections: The power of LinkedIn is in the strength of the connections and relationships that you have. There’s no point in having thousands of connections when there is no mutual benefit or if it doesn’t add any value to your business or career. Your time is better spent enhancing your existing relationships on LinkedIn or building a more quality network of people. 

Don’t Just Lurk Around: As a build-up to point five, I have to emphasize that LinkedIn is indeed most effective when you engage with it. I will encourage you to follow Thought Leaders in your industry, comment on the posts that interest you, create and share content well-aligned with your expertise. Please remember to be bold on LinkedIn, send messages to potential employees on why they need your skills and how it will be profitable to their company. You need to generate and contribute to interesting professional conversations on the platform in order to be visible on LinkedIn.

Sending Generic Messages: Sending blanket messages to everyone on LinkedIn is not effective and will most likely get the message ignored by the receiver. If your reason for sending a message to a recruiter or senior employee is to get hired, write something a bit more personal than ‘Sir/Madam’, it will probably take a couple of seconds to find out the name of the person you are addressing the message to, and doing this will help you get a response to your message. You certainly don’t want your connections, removing you from their contact list if your message is ambiguous. You just might be surprised at the level of offline connections you can build off LinkedIn if you do it the right way, including the way you can get to meet people over lunch due to prior interactions on LinkedIn.                                                                  

Getting noticed on LinkedIn, building networks and benefiting from the media platform is not an easy job, but it can be done. It only requires putting-in the right efforts and implementing the 7 tips I have detailed above. Building a strong network with people on LinkedIn starts with building a good first impression, so ensure you do it the right way in order to make the best out of the platform.