In recent times, LinkedIn has exploded in popularity to become the pre-eminent tool for business networking across the world.
Whether you are attempting to expand your professional connections, learn more about a sector or explore job opportunities, it is a powerful resource for professionals.
However, the ever-changing nature of social media and the sheer depth of resources on LinkedIn means it is often easy to to take a wrong step, and as such it is important to change and adapt your behaviour appropriately to avoid being out of date:
Think of it as an online CV
Although there are plenty of CV aggregators on the internet, LinkedIn is arguably the deepest collection of profiles, and so acts as a professional brochure of sorts. Through it, colleagues and potential employers can gain a brief overview of your career, and so it is vital that great care and attention is taken when creating your profile, to ensure information is plentiful and accurate without being bloated or irrelevant. Keep in mind though, that this shouldn’t be n exact reproduction of your CV. Focus on your key strengths and experiences, providing statements of your achievements and successes instead of simply a laundry list of your job duties.
Avoid connecting with everyone
Although sending out blanket connections can be tempting, it will do nothing for your profile or job prospects in the long run. There is a good reason why LinkedIn asks for a valid reason to connect with certain people (by asking if they are a former colleague, friend, business associate etc) - to stop this kind of behaviour. If this fails to stop you in your tracks, think about how people with a lot of influence may receive your out-of-the-blue connection request and not only reject it, but inform the people they influence that you are a 'blanket connector' and somebody to avoid.
Join groups, but be careful
It is bad practice to join every single group on LinkedIn - this will make you look like you have no sense of purpose and, at best, position you as a jack of all trades, and master of none. Instead, choose carefully, and be active in any groups you do join; a well-placed comment seen by the right people can provide you with positive exposure and open up new avenues and opportunities.
Endorse and be endorsed
When you endorse people for certain skills, they are more likely to return the favour, so think about the areas of expertise you'd like to promote and highlight other people's strengths in those departments. Chances are you'll receive an endorsement soon after and bolster your credentials. You can also go one step further by offering a testimonial, which will add a human aspect to the endorsement and an additional level of credibility, that you can then expect to be returned.
Don't be arrogant
We live in an increasingly connected world, which means it is becoming less and less easy to embellish accomplishments. Purported claims to fame can easily be disproved by navigating a few web pages, so be wary the next time you make a bold statement. Conversely, if you have done something extraordinary, then let the actions speak for themselves, or mention it constructively in your profile or during a group discussion. Using your experience and prowess to help others is far more impressive than constantly shouting it from the rooftops.
With any online profile, a lack of activity can be detrimental to a LinkedIn profile. Logging on just once a month to update your profile or confirm connections will lead to a huge batch of updates going live. Not only does this mean that your fellow LinkedIn users will only see you appear once or twice in your newsfeed all month - thereby reducing your visibility - but it also indicates that you can be inattentive and fail to keep things ticking over, which can send out the wrong message to potential employers.
Share, but don't spam
Just like it is possible to unfriend someone on Facebook for posting outrageous statuses or content, or unfollow somebody on Twitter for the same reasons, posting irrelevant links or updates on LinkedIn can lead to a connection being terminated. Posting an ill thought-out link or article will detract from your value, while potentially offensive content can lead to your reputation among your peers being damaged. As with every element of LinkedIn, constantly keeping in mind who will be reading what you write is vital, and can ensure maximum positive exposure among potential employers, who may be looking for a candidate like you.