LinkedIn can be a difficult social medium to use effectively. It represents a cross between a resume/job search site and an online networking event.
As with in-person networking, you should behave professionally on LinkedIn. It’s OK to reveal a bit of personal information, but keep the pictures of your children and the connections to your college drinking buddies on Facebook (unless those drinking buddies are also professional colleagues).
When thinking about what to post on LinkedIn, follow the advice of news.au.com’s Claire Porter:
Remember that LinkedIn is a professional network, so don’t put anything on your profile or write anything in groups that you wouldn’t be willing to say in a meeting room of your peers.
Porter provides a number of other tips, as well as real life examples from those who have experienced challenging situations on LinkedIn.
Boston.com has a solid list of dos and don’ts, including:
Do make the headline at the top more descriptive than just a one-word job title. The more you describe yourself, the more likely your name will pop up in word searches by potential sales contacts and recruiters.
- Do connect with online communities of people with similar interests. It’s a form of networking and allows you to get your name out to a wider number of people
- Don’t treat the LinkedIn profile as if it’s a personal page. Keep the information you provide as professional as possible.
- Don’t forget to update your profile when you get promoted, assume new job responsibilities, or move to another company.
Giving endorsements on LinkedIn
One tip that I haven’t seen in my research relates to endorsing your LinkedIn connections: don’t endorse people for skills you can’t verify.
LinkedIn now allows you to endorse your connections for skills that they list in their profile (and sometimes for skills that they don’t list). When you visit LinkedIn, it will often provide you a list of four contacts and a skill associated with each. You can then choose to endorse all, some or none of the individuals for the skills listed.
If you know that a connection has a particular skill, endorsing them is a way to quickly acknowledge their abilities and help them add credibility to their resume.
If you aren’t sure someone possesses a skill LinkedIn is asking about, don’t endorse them. Endorsing someone for a skill they don’t actually possess reflects poorly on you.
Similarly, if someone endorses you for a skill you don’t have–particularly if it’s one you haven’t listed on your resume–don’t accept the endorsement.
When you receive an endorsement, LinkedIn will ask you if you’d like to make it public. If you’ve been endorsed for a skill that you don’t possess, don’t post it. Doing so will reflect poorly on both you and the person who endorsed you.
For example, I was recently endorsed for having fundraising skills. With the exception of participating in bottle drives when I was a Scout, I have no experience in this area. It’s a skill I want to develop, but not one in which I have enough skill to accept an endorsement, so I didn’t post the endorsement to my profile.