I've noticed over the past few years--perhaps since the Microsoft acquisition--that LinkedIn has become quite the source of traffic and engagement for me. Having said that, and at the risk of annoying some people who think there is no right way to use social media, LinkedIn will only be effective for you if you follow some basic guidelines, most of which should be common sense.
But I've found that many people have been using the platform in a way that doesn't reflect well on them. Here are five things that you really need to stop doing on LinkedIn if you want to make a good impression.
If you just connected, breathe before you pitch.
This is by far my biggest pet peeve with LinkedIn. For some reason, people think it is effective to cold pitch people without any preparation or research. The funniest is when someone sends me a message on LinkedIn offering their totally irrelevant service and says something along the lines of "We see that at your company you do XYZ and thought you could use my product." I feel like replying "Oh, really? And what company would that be?"
It is so clear when this happens that the person is mass messaging people with the same pitch so they can't be bothered to actually personalize the message and include the name of the company. That aside, you'd think by now that people would understand how important trust is before selling something.
I can't think of a single scenario in which it is effective to add someone on LinkedIn and immediately pitch them. Don't be that guy.
Stop mass tagging people in posts.
This point is not specific to LinkedIn and it happens on other social media sites, but it does happen quite often on LinkedIn. If you think tagging me in a comment along with tons of other people is going to get my attention, you are sorely mistaken.
Mass tagging people is the same as mass emails as far as I'm concerned. Now I know some salespeople will swear by this, and they may even disagree with the first point of messaging random people. But while it might drive a sale here and there, it alienates most people who find it aggressive and annoying.
Your name should be your name.
I guess this one is a personal opinion. Your name field on LinkedIn should be reserved for, well, your name. I don't want to connect with someone named "Hillel Fuld -- I'm hiring" or "Hillel Fuld -- marketing guru." Just tell me your name and start acting like a human being.
Can you imagine meeting someone offline and saying "Hey, I'm Hillel "Looking to Hire Developers" Fuld. What's your name?" I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's called social media for a reason. Be social. Be human. Don't act like a bot. No one wants to connect with bots.
A ninja never identifies as a ninja.
Subtlety is everything. You might very well be a marketing "guru" (and I'll let you know when I figure out what that even means), but that's for me to decide, not you.
Without doing any real analysis, I'd bet money that there is a direct correlation between people who call themselves a guru or a ninja and people who fail to deliver on their marketing promises.
My point is, let your actions do the speaking, and don't call yourself an expert, guru, or ninja at something. Let me be the judge of that.
Besides, generally speaking, it's always better to have someone else praise you and your abilities, as opposed to you praising yourself.
Use the site to expand your existing network.
Again, this is a personal opinion, but I have yet to hear a logical explanation as to why this is false. I never understand people who say "I only connect with people whom I know personally or I have worked with."
Isn't the whole point of this social networking thing to actually expand your existing network? I don't need a social platform to connect with my next-door neighbor.
Now, it is a question of how far you go. Do you accept LinkedIn invites from anyone? Maybe anyone who has the same job as you? Maybe someone who works in your industry?
The way I use LinkedIn is to connect with anyone I know, anyone I've worked with, or anyone in my industry who seems authentic and doesn't automate their LinkedIn.
Overall, LinkedIn can drive a ton of engagement, traffic, and actual business if the platform is leveraged well. But, like most other platforms, if used aggressively, it can break deals and alienate potential customers and partners.