I fundamentally do not understand people who use  social platforms, and especially LinkedIn, to connect exclusively with people they already know. "I am not accepting his invite since I don't know him and never worked with him." I hear that sentence often and it confuses me.

Is the point of social media not to connect with more people and expand your horizons? I don't need a social platform to connect with my neighbor, that is what I have my two feet for. I don't know, maybe it is just me.

As for LinkedIn, at least based on the premise that you are using it to network and connect with people with whom you have professional synergy, there are some practices I am seeing often that, again, confuse me, and have me asking myself "What is the point of using LinkedIn if that is the way you use it?"

Here are a few examples:

1. Adding "Looking for new opportunity" to your name.

You are looking for a job, and you are using LinkedIn to help you find one. Fantastic. But putting those words "Looking for a new opportunity" as part of your actual name will help you achieve the exact opposite. It does not exactly scream to me, someone you are trying to add as a connection: "Add me, I am someone you want in your network."

Better to have your name only in that field, build up your network, establish some relationships, and then ask your connections for their help and advice in finding your next gig.

2. Including your website in your name.

On that same note, people who put their website as part of their name in the hopes that any time they comment, people will see their website, click, and that way, they will drive more traffic to their site? That is spammy, annoying and once again, achieves the opposite result. 

Don't do that.

3. Not telling me at a glance what you actually do.

When building your Linkedin profile, and specifically when populating the fields that people see first when getting an invite from you, namely your name and title, think carefully, because first impressions matter.

Saying "Sales executive" or "Business development" without the name of a company or something a bit more specific, says nothing to the person who got your invite. Since all you have are a few seconds before they decide whether to accept or reject your invitation, without a bit more context about you, or at least a little validation that you are a professional, you can't expect people to want to add you to their network. Be specific. 

4. Starting emails with "Since we are connected on Linkedin, I thought..."

Emails that begin with those words "Since we are connected on LinkedIn, I thought..." are not very effective. If we are connected on LinkedIn, then perhaps use LinkedIn messaging to contact me. That way I have the context on who I am talking to. Besides, just because we are connected on LinkedIn, does not mean I am interested in receiving your mass emails. LinkedIn is LinkedIn, my inbox is my inbox.

5. Just because you can, send a message, doesn't mean you should.

LinkedIn often pops up those notifications encouraging you to send those automated messages to people. Don't do it. And if you must, then add a few words or sentences of your own.

If you can't invest 30 seconds in personalizing your greeting, or congratulating me on my work anniversary, to me that says, you are not very interested in this connection, which in turn means, I have no incentive in investing my time in said relationship. Don't be lazy, no matter how easy LinkedIn makes it.

6. Be patient, and don't always be selling.

You add someone on LinkedIn and the second they hit "Accept," you decide to go in for the kill. Why? Would you behave that way offline? Try to sell someone something before establishing a little trust? You would not, because it would not work. 

On LinkedIn, you have a new connection that you want to sell something to? Spend a little time getting to know person and their needs. Learn as much as you can before trying to pitch them, and even then, think of that person's needs, not your own, when pitching.

The name of the game is subtlety and you will find that the less you "Sell", the more you end up winning.

On Linkedn, just like on any other platform, the little things matter, and can be the difference between losing an opportunity and creating one.

Published on: Jun 5, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.