While the world of social media encompasses a dizzying number of different networks, with more showing up all the time, one in particular, LinkedIn, stands out as the most professional. While sites like Facebook and Twitter are often seen as being more fun, relaxed and unfiltered, LinkedIn is known for getting right to business in the way its structured. You should always put your best digital foot forward on any social media site, especially LinkedIn because having questionable behavior can lead to major ramifications. I recently ran across an article on Ragan.com, written by Kevin J. Allen that was all about some of the more serious faux pas or social blunders committed on the site on a regular business and how to avoid making them yourself.
Mass Requests and Junk Posts
While it’s generally a good idea to utilize LinkedIn to connect with others in your industry, you shouldn’t simply go about sending mass requests to everyone you know in a certain field. Instead, focus on one person at a time who is at least somewhat familiar with you and your work. Send that individual a thoughtfully worded request that asks them to take a look at examples of your recent portfolio and, if they like it, ask if they would be willing to give you a good recommendation. Remember to be courteous, and do not rush them with a deadline of any sort. After all, you are the one asking them for favors.
Another important thing to remember is that you need to be very careful about what materials you post in general. Think twice about posting cute animal pictures or something funny you heard your friend say, and even if you do consider it, err on the side of caution. Think about if it will blur the lines between professional and personal and how that will look to others.
Avoiding Vague Requests and Misrepresenting Yourself
When you go to make a connection with someone on LinkedIn, try to add a personal touch. It will not only make you stand out from all those vague requests but it will also make it seem like you going above and beyond the minimum. Include some details about how or where you meet so it’ll be more likely to jog that person’s memory. When writing your work experience, you also want to make sure you don’t misrepresent what you’ve done, or worse yet fabricate work you never actually did. While semantics and wording are something that may not get you into hot water, blatantly lying is a whole other story, especially if a present or future employer is looking into your background. One rule that’s obvious but should still be mentioned is having a nice, respectable and appropriate profile picture. You also want to make sure its still up to date and actually looks like you, so try not to have photos that are more than a year old.
Bashing Company and Oversharing
While it should be a no-brainer that bashing your company or co-workers on any social media site is a bad idea, even doing this in a vague manner without naming names is a still a poor choice. Some people will post their personal work problems and try to make it seem like they are simply seeking advice. Not only does it make the person look unprofessional, but you never know if a co-worker or boss might be reading your posts.
Finally, don’t overshare every little post or article you find interesting. Even if its part of your job, you need to show some restraint, as posting too much and too often will quickly make people come to view you in an annoying or negative light. Try to keep your posts, which should be something meaningful or interesting, to no more than one a day.
While what I mentioned here is what I felt to be the most important areas of LinkedIn etiquette, there are still many more details worth reading in the article itself.