25 Things that Make You Look Dumb on LinkedIn

25 Things that Make You Look Dumb on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of those social networks you may feel a bit unsure about.

You might even be asking yourself, “How can this site help me grow my small business?”

LinkedIn is recognized as the professional social network. It’s a place where people in all industries can go to build relationships with their colleagues and demonstrate their experience and expertise. It’s also a place where businesses and organizations can show off their work to prospective clients, customers, and even future employees.

The last thing you want to do is look like you don’t know what you’re doing!

To help you get started, we compiled a list of 25 things you’ll want to avoid:

1. Not understanding the difference between a LinkedIn Company Page and a LinkedIn Profile. There are two ways for you to demonstrate your expertise on LinkedIn. With a Company Page, you’ll be communicating as your business. This is similar to a Facebook Business Page, where prospective clients can learn more about your business. However, it is much more focused on informing your audience rather than building a community like you would on Facebook.

With your LinkedIn Profile, you’ll be communicating as an individual rather than a business. Here you’ll connect with clients, colleagues, and other members of your professional network.

Mixing this up is a guaranteed way to look foolish when starting out.

2. Not having a profile photo. This might seem like a no-brainer, but not having a photo can have a big impact on the overall appearance of your profile.

3. Using an unprofessional profile photo. Quirky photos that might fly on Facebook are not a good choice on LinkedIn. Keep your headshot professional.

4. Uploading a poorly-cropped profile photo. People upload profile photos all the time that are not sized correctly for LinkedIn. This often results in the “half-head” syndrome. Don’t be the person without a forehead in your profile photo! Also, you don’t want to use a photo that has multiple people in it. Your beautiful face should be the only one in the picture.

5. Not updating your contact information. It’s important to keep all of your information up-to-date. Why? You want people to be able to easily connect with you.

6. Not completing your entire profile. Having an incomplete profile not only looks lazy, but it also doesn’t portray all of the amazing credentials and experience you have. Show them off!

7. Not including a personalized message. With every invitation you send to connect, you should always include a personal message. This is the place to add that little something extra. A personalized note goes a long way because it makes your invitation feel genuine.

8. Not posting appropriate content. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site. The type of content you’d post on Facebook, might not be appropriate on LinkedIn. Keep content professional and relevant.

9. Not proofreading your posts. An extra comma here and a misspelled word there may not seem like a big deal, but it does make you look less professional. Keep posts as grammatically sound as possible.

10. Not contributing to the conversation. LinkedIn is becoming more and more social and easy to access from your mobile device with its recent updates. Adding to the conversation is a great way to make meaningful connections, and with these updates, there’s no excuse for not contributing.

11. Not being selective about the connections you accept. The people you choose to connect with are a representation of who you are. Don’t accept just anyone. Make sure you know who they are and their credentials.

12. Sending too many requests = poor LinkedIn etiquette. Don’t bombard people with request after request. It gets annoying. You also want to be choosey about the people you request to connect with.

13. Embellishing your responsibilities and accomplishments. Plain and simple, it’s just better not to embellish. Plus, I’m sure you have plenty of experience to show off. Tell people about it all!

14. Not managing your visibility. Choosing who is able to see your profile is important. Make sure your visibility setting is to your liking. Here’s how.

15. Not endorsing someone back. Don’t expect to keep getting love if you don’t share some love too.

16. Not asking for endorsements or recommendations. These are the things that can greatly boost your LinkedIn reputation. A good recommendation tells people that you are a trust-worthy expert.

17. Not sharing rich media (i.e. links, videos, infographics, slideshare etc.) LinkedIn now allows videos and photos. Take advantage! It’s an engaging, fun way to attract people to your profile!

18. Not joining the right groups. This is similar to the people you choose to connect with. The groups you choose to join, are visible on your profile. Make sure they’re relevant to your industry and reputable.

19. Not posting open positions on your Business Page. LinkedIn is a great resource that can help you find your next great employee. Don’t hesitate to let people know you’re hiring!

20. Not letting people know you’re on LinkedIn. If someone has already joined your email list, they most likely would love to connect with you on LinkedIn too. Send out an email to your contact list, inviting people to connect. It’s easy to do with Constant Contact’s email templates.

21. Too much self-promotion. You don’t want to come off as an “it’s-all-about-me” kind of person. You want your connections to feel like you care about them. Find a nice balance between promoting your business and offering your audience relevant content and solutions.

22. Not customizing your professional headline. The professional headline is the text right below your name. Customize it so that it grabs attention and speaks to your business qualifications.

23. Not staying on top of your inbox messages. It’s so easy to let any inbox get out of control, but on LinkedIn, you are building relationships. That means, if someone takes the time to message you, you should message them back right away to show them you care.

24. Not thinking about search optimization (SEO). For starters, completing your profile helps your ranking, but there is more you can do to make your Business Page SEO friendly. Being visible and highly ranked will help people find you.

25. Not having a LinkedIn profile!

Even if you think that other industries or small businesses are better suited for LinkedIn than you, there are still many valuable connections that LinkedIn can offer.

According to a Constant Contact survey, data indicates that small businesses are increasingly seeing the value of social media platforms across the board, and, in particular, LinkedIn and Twitter. 29 percent said that LinkedIn was effective for their business, an increase of 19 percentage points compared to a similar Constant Contact Small Business survey last spring.

Just by being aware of these 25 LinkedIn mistakes, you’ll already be ahead of the curve and making LinkedIn connections in no time. Start small by setting up a profile and have fun with it!

Want to learn more?

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Leave a comment »
  1. When I joined LinkedIn, it was basically an on-line Rolodex — a way to stay in contact with people you only had work contact info for. Now it’s headshots and endorsements and and and…

    What I would like to see as a companion to this article is how to update one’s profile without having your current manager make assumptions. Mine checks our profiles and asks if we’re unhappy at work if we do a lot of updates at once.

    Your list sounds like it’s more appropriate for an entrepreneur or contractor.

    • Leanne Kennis •

      Kat, you can actually turn your activity broadcasts on or off and select who can see your activity feed from the Privacy & Settings page. Here’s how: http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/78

      Next time you make an update to your profile or connect with someone you don’t want your current manager to know about, simply turn off your activity broadcasts.

      Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for reading Kat!

  2. I have some concerns about endorsements. It was my understanding that LinkedIn brought in the endorsement format to make it easier for people to recommend others instead of being required to type out long recommendations. That being said, if an endorsement is equal to a recommendation, doesn’t it stand to reason that you don’t want to just go around endorsing any and everybody, just like you don’t want to connect with any and everybody. I see a lot of people who get endorsements from people they’ve never met, who have absolutely no real idea of what it’s like to work with or for the person. If you are expected to return the favor simply because someone endorsed you, can’t that get dicey? I mean, you’d essentially be endorsing people you know nothing about simply because you don’t want to be seen as being a taker only – but, let’s say the crap hits the fan with something the person does. Then it looks like you’re endorsing under par people.
    I suppose it all goes back to connecting with people you know in some way…but a lot of people are way past that point.

    • Leanne Kennis •

      Nikki, you bring up a lot of really good points. I do not recommend endorsing just anyone. It is similar to the connections you choose to accept. You should absolutely be choosey. I also do not think you are expected to return the favor. Just as you should only accept/ask for endorsements from people you’ve worked with and know, you should also only write endorsements for people you really know.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Nikki!

    • I don’t put much weight on their new endorsements since anyone can just click on “Endorse” without even knowing you. I’ve been endorsed by folks I don’t know. Recommendations, however, do carry a lot of weight because people have to take time to write it. Only request recommendations from people who know you and your work. Former colleagues, clients, places where you’ve volunteered.

      • Dustin K •

        I agree. I’ve been endorsed for things by people who know me but have no idea if I’m good at the particular things they endorse me for. Endorsements on LinkedIn are useless. Recommendations are where it is at.

  3. Juan MUnera •

    Sounds like you just listed just about everything there is to do on LinkedIn lol

  4. Wow! You hit all my pet peeves in one post! Thank you! As a Social Media coach, it’s one of the hardest things to get across to people. They don’t get that this is their reputation on the #1 professional networking site.

  5. I’ve got one more to add: Never ask for recommendations from people who don’t know you or your work. Ask former colleagues, clients, where you’ve volunteered.

    • Leanne Kennis •

      Thank you so much for offering your suggestions! So glad you liked the post.

  6. I believe that simply posting links to articles adds very little value.

    In business, the value created by service providers exists within the convenience they offer to their customers.

    In order to create real value for colleagues, partners, and general connections by posting articles it is critical for LinkedIn users to share their own perspective on the articles they re-post.

    Make it easy for your audience to know why you posted the article in the first place.

    For example: I represent and serve hundreds of small businesses in Silicon Valley – I often post articles that can help them better understand marketing, sales, and team building.

  7. Great tips, Leanne! Thank you. Regarding those Endorsements: I’ve had so many people ask me how to hide them from their profiles, so I made a 2-minute video on just how to do that. (People who work in financial services and law profession are generally prohibited from using Endorsements or Recommendations.) Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/_lqQPJQs85U.

    • Leanne Kennis •

      Maria, thank you so much for sharing your helpful video and being one of our rock star Solution Providers!

  8. Great summation about LinkedIn. As others have pointed out, the endorsements seem to be one of the few weak things regarding LI. I spoke to numerous people at the NYC Inbound Marketing Summit this spring, and all thought that endorsements were being overused and therefore, useless. But since they are a part of LI (and if you chose to show them), you might as well do it right. Select your skills in order of importance before someone gets a chance to select a skill they want to endorse you for… I’ve noticed that the skills that show up in my home page are often the connection’s first 5 skills listed or ranked.

  9. PS: I noticed the sidebar doesn’t have LinkedIn as an option :)

    • Dave Charest •

      Thanks Heidi, we’ve has some issues with the LinkedIn button on the sidebar which is why it’s not there at the moment. You can find on at the bottom of the post though. :)

  10. […] 25 things that make you look dumb on LinkedIn by Leanne Kennis (note items 7, 11, 12, and 22) […]

  11. Endorsements — Many people randomly click these, simply because the option exists. These are of little to no value. It’s simply a method designed by LinkedIn to get you more engaged with their platform. Until this system requires thought and verification, it should not be considered influential.

    Recommendations — Make it easy for someone to give you a recommendation. Remind them of a successful project on which you both worked. Help them out by writing your endorsement of their work first and sending it along in the request. That will remind them of the achievements and help them to write a similar recommendation. Be specific, tell a story, quantify success. As soon as they have written the endorsement, use the automatic feature to post the return endorsement.

  12. I COMPLETELY agree with so many of these statements!! It’s so frustrating to see people treat LinkedIn like every other social media channel out there. One of my coworkers wrote a blog similar to this too. I think it’s time for professionals to take a collective stand to change their LinkedIn behavior and utilize the channel how it should be!


  13. I enjoyed your article. I did not know Linkedin had a business page as well, learn something new every day. Thanks!

    • Leanne Kennis •

      So glad you found this post useful! I hope you continue reading the blog!

  14. I understand the difference between a company page and a personal profile on LinkedIn. However, I can’t figure out how to create a company page for my business without first having a personal profile. Can I create a company page without a personal profile? If so, how?

  15. Regarding #18, it is automatic that group membership is viewable on your profile; but you can opt to go into each group’s settings and turn off that visibility.


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