1. Keep Your Breakfast to Yourself
LinkedIn is considered a social media network, but the emphasis is on the word “network”, not “social”. This is your professional image. It houses your resume, not a comment on what you ate for breakfast. It displays a professional you, not a dog lover. The keyword is “professional.” Everything you do or post on LinkedIn should be professional and courteous.
2. Don't Connect with People You Don't Know
If you don’t know the person, like Bill Gates, don’t try to connect to them. Although it boosts your image, once someone finds out you don’t actually know Bill, your reputation plummets well below what it would have been without that connection. Don’t ask someone to connect with you if you’ve never met them. If you want to get to know them, send them a private message. Otherwise, don’t try to see what you can get away with. It can be rude. (It’s important to note, however, that you can choose to follow updates from influencers, like Bill Gates. That way their posts will show up in your feed).
It’s also a best practice to personalize your connection requests. In her article LinkedIn Etiquette 2017: 20 Do’s & Don’ts, Melonie Dodaro, author of The Linkedin Code, recommends including a short introduction: “People are far more likely to accept your request if you either remind them of how they know you or explain why they should connect with you.” Dodaro says she often accepts personalized invitations to connect because they are so rare.
3. Have a Professional Headshot
It is vital to use a professional headshot on a LinkedIn profile. “Unprofessional looking photos can damage your credibility and your personal brand, as well as prevent people from connecting with you,” Dodaro explains. If you don’t have access to a professional photographer (which most of us do not), you can still obtain a professional-looking photo of yourself using these tips:
- Have someone take the photo for you. You don’t want a selfie-style photo!
- Take the photo in a well-lit room against a plain background (a colored wall is preferable).
- Avoid unnatural poses. Keep it simple by standing up straight with your shoulders back, leaning your head forward just slightly. You can also try putting your hands on your hips and turning your torso slightly to the right or left.
- Always smile. More often than not, the “serious” face looks goofy.
4. You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours
LinkedIn offers the ability to endorse another’s work. Say you worked with Jimmy at Jimmy John’s for five years. Your experience with him is that he’s reliable, good at picking up new tasks, and is freakishly fast at his work. You have the ability to endorse his work on his profile. Jimmy will get notified of your endorsement and could turn around and endorse you in return.
People often like to endorse you to help you out. If you want to build up a good reputation though, it would help to turn around and endorse them back. Even if you can’t endorse them in the same way, you can always say something nice about a past co-worker to boost their profile. If you simply collect endorsements without giving them, your co-workers might stop endorsing you.
So keep your personal life to yourself, connect only to those you know, and try giving back what you’ve been given. You’ll build up your own reputation in the minds of friends as you also build theirs. You’ll also have a very pleasant, helpful experience out there.