LinkedIn was created to be a business-oriented social networking service and since establishing my profile, I’ve noticed many items that need addressing, in my opinion — if you are engaging with the platform wanting to further your business and make yourself look good. Here are just 4 ways in which you can improve your profile and standing within the LinkedIn community (again, just my opinion):
1. Your photo is your first foot in the door
This needs to be a photograph of you, not your child, not your cat, your dog, the drunken friends you partied with last night, a beautiful scenic landscape, nor a cartoon. Seriously. If you are a company, then by all means, post your brand, your logo, whatever, as long as it makes your business look good. If you are posting your own individual photo, it doesn’t have to be a boring professional staged photo of you all dressed up with a boring neutral background (if boring pro shots are your thing, that’s okay, too), but it should be a photo of you. And actually let them see your face. Don’t be 50 feet away where all you are is a blur with a cap on. And make sure it’s in focus. And make sure there’s enough lighting so you can be seen.
If you’re having a bad hair day, perhaps invest in a hairbrush, some sort of styling product or if the product is the problem, throw it out. Dirty hair? Try washing it. (Seriously people, some of these should be no-brainers). Too much makeup? You don’t want to look like a $2 hooker, do you? (If you do, go to the dating websites and disconnect from LinkedIn). You are trying to promote your business or your blog or your book or whatever it is — hopefully, you’re not trying to sell yourself, prostitutionally. Yes, I realize it’s a profession but don’t bring it to LinkedIn.
It’s not all about looks but it is your first step in your connection on LinkedIn and it should be a good starting point, don’t you think? How do you want the world to see you? You want to make yourself look good. That’s the first thing they see — your photo. Try to make a good first impression so maybe they’ll be thinking, ‘Oh, this person looks like they might have a clue. Let me read their profile.’ If I see the image and it looks ridiculous, 9 times out of 10, I will reject the connection and not even read what the person is about.
2. Don’t be looking for a love connection
I cannot tell you how many guys (I’m pretty sure girls do this, too) get on LinkedIn or any other social site to just flirt with women and are looking for a date, looking for love or to make it or for whatever reason they get on a site, reach out and say stupid crap like “Hey, beautiful. I saw your profile and you’re super hot. Tell me about yourself,” or “Hey baby, what you doin’?” Om…DELETE…REJECT…BLOCK!
Honestly, I don’t get the whole online dating thing or online flirting thing. AT ALL. I realize some people are into that but I think it’s super gross, ridiculous and just plain psycho. Yes, I know people can put up a front and be as fake as a three dollar bill to your face. Believe me. I know this.
If dating online is your thing, good luck to you and I hope you can find love but LinkedIn is not the place for that. Take it to a dating site that’s set up for that sort of thing. And stop messaging me. Weirdo.
3. Learn how to spell correctly & check your grammar
I’ve received so many requests for connections from so-called literary people (promoting their book, their editing and proofreading skills, etc.). If you have misspelled half the words in your profile, chances are no one is going to hire you for any sort of literary position. I understand if English is not your native tongue but if you are trying to promote in English, learn how to speak it or hire someone to edit and proofread for you before publishing your profile or any sort of post to the site.
You want to look intelligent. You want to look professional. If you cannot spell correctly and proofread your work at least three times out loud to yourself to make sure you’re using proper grammar and didn’t leave out any words and your sentences run smoothly and you don’t have any run-on and runaway sentences, then don’t bother hitting publish or post or update (see what I did there? *wink-wink).
Okay, some run-on sentences fit. But some don’t. However, spelling correctly and making sure you proofread to ensure you didn’t leave words out or repeat yourself repeat yourself (I did it on purpose), should be at the top of your list before hitting the POST button. And if you are in a literary field, claiming to have mad skills and don’t even know how to spell, it’s probably time for you to be movin’ on to something entirely different.
Don’t forget to space out your paragraphs about every 3 to 7 sentences, depending on their length. If it’s all lumped together in one exceedingly long, drawn-out paragraph, people are gonna see that crap and run without reading the first line.
Oh! Oh! Oh! And PLEASE learn the difference between their, there and they’re. Also to, two and too. OH, and your and you’re. I’m sure there are others but MAN! I see these all the friggin’ time, misused. And it drives me batshit crazy. STOP IT!
4. Engage with your community
You need to actually engage in conversation. Try to get to know people. Ah, too busy? Not enough hours in the day to be sociable? Well, make the time. Five minutes out of your busy day is not going to kill you. A new connection is what should be the start of a beautiful friendship. If you are out only to promote your business or your book or whatever you’re selling, let me tell you one thing for sure: if ya wanna sell it, ya gotta sell yourself.
I am not saying to go out there and act like a car salesman, because they will run hard and fast as if you have the plague. I’m saying get to know your peeps. Let them get to know you. Put something interesting in your profile summary — something that allows them to connect on your level. Now, there’s gotta be something interesting about you. Everyone’s got something. Don’t just be in it to self promote. I’ve made some great friends through business connections. I’ve made some great friends through blogging, through joining the writing cabins and other conversations going on over at Nanowrimo and Camp Nanowrimo.
You start out talking with strangers and then you relate on a level and you become fast friends. They don’t just become a client, a colleague, an employee, a blogger, a club member — they become friends. And that’s what you should be after. Don’t just be selfishly self-promoting. Make the effort and get to know people, just a little. I’ve deleted so many people who send me a message telling me to check out their website, buy their book, hire them for editing and proofreading services (when they cannot even spell correctly). Shameful.
And when people comment on your blog post and include their website in their message, it’s really insincere, or it comes off as such. Usually, if you have a WordPress site and you leave a comment, people can click on you and check out your site but leave that up to them. You need to leave an honest, thoughtful comment about what you read.
If you read something someone wrote and you like it, click ‘Like.’ If you have something to say about it, click on Comments and leave one. If you want to send someone a message about what you do as a career or what kind of job you are looking for, let them know that you actually read their profile and say something about it. One of the best lessons I ever learned was “It’s not all about you.” And on the other side of that, if someone leaves you a personable comment, it is only polite to respond in kind. If the connection seems one-sided to me and they are not interested in an actual connection, I will usually delete them. In fact, it is time for me to do some deleting.
Do you have any input as to what would make a better LinkedIn profile?
I’m sure I’ll be updating this as time goes on, but I do believe this is of utmost importance for every person and so-called company that wants to promote on LinkedIn. I’m just sayin’.
Photo courtesy of community.babycenter.com