The golden rules of LinkedIn etiquette

First impressions are vital on LinkedIn. You just have to think about how long people spend looking at a profile. Different reports suggest this can be anything from 10 seconds to a minute. Either way, you don’t have much time to impress them.

Luckily, our golden rules of LinkedIn etiquette can help you do just that.

The Golden Rules

Think about what you’re sharing

Did you know that unless you’ve turned this function off, your connections get an alert every time you make a slight change to your profile? This can not only get annoying for your connections, but if you’re doing some updates to your profile, this could alert people in your company that you’re on the lookout for a new job. Go to your privacy settings and change the setting for ‘who can see your activity feed’ to ‘only you.’

Get the basics right

If people do click through to your LinkedIn profile, make it easy for them to see all of the information they need about you. Here is a checklist to make sure you tick the right boxes:

Write an eye-catching headline that showcases your unique selling point – it doesn’t have to be your job title and company.
Think about the people you want to read your profile – potential employers, business partners, clients and so on – and write your profile as if you’re speaking to them.
Try and avoid cliches and buzzwords like ‘motivated,’ ‘responsible’ and ‘dedicated,’ and instead use technical keywords relevant to your industry to make yourself easily searchable by recruiters.
Make sure your experience section is as detailed as your CV would be, using bullet points to describe what you did and how well you did it.
Write an effective summary. Don’t waste this space, as it’s often the first thing people see (after your profile photo). What’s more, if people Google you, your LinkedIn profile will be one of the first results, so it’s prime real estate for selling yourself online.

Approach people you don’t know in the right way

LinkedIn is great for opening the door to professional opportunities, but approaching new connections should be handled delicately, just like networking face-to-face.

Here are a few tips for approaching people you don’t know on LinkedIn:

Don’t send out mass connection requests to just anyone. Think about why you want to connect with them. Do your research and demonstrate genuine interest in what they do.
Introduce yourself! Don’t expect them to know who you are already. Send a short message explaining who you are, what you do, and why you would like to connect. Try starting a discussion to pique their interest or offer a point of view on something they’re interested in.
Don’t just accept any old connection request either. Yes, the more connections you have, the more chance you have of being found on LinkedIn. However, remember that your connections reflect on you, too. If some of your unknown connections have a bad reputation, this could have a direct effect on your own reputation in your network. Similarly, you risk having your new connection sending unwanted requests to your truly valued connections, putting your hard-earned network at risk.

Don’t over post

LinkedIn is a network within which you should be sharing your opinions, achievements, interesting articles and other relevant content. However, it’s a professional network, so you should take a more reserved approach than you do with platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Your LinkedIn connections are often busy people with their own business agendas to think of.  Studies have suggested that posting once per day is enough, otherwise you risk turning people off. Likewise, don’t send too many salesy messages to your connections, as this can start to feel like spam.

Here’s some more essential LinkedIn etiquette to follow:

Make sure you take a professional photo so people can see who they’re connecting with. Don’t just cut yourself out of a group shot from your Facebook page, take one specifically and show that you’ve made the effort to present yourself professionally.
Respond promptly to connection requests and messages. It’s polite and also shows you’re on top of things.
Don’t ask new connections to endorse you or do you favours straight away – nurture the relationship first.
Remember that certain LinkedIn users (e.g. Premium account holders) can see when you’ve viewed their profile, so think carefully about who you research – do you want them to know you’re looking?