Of the many mistakes committed on LinkedIn, most fall into the breach of etiquette category. There are also a fair share of errors and omissions that can result in lost business opportunities. Frequently, a social-networking miscue is attributable to a lack of knowledge rather than a blatant transgression of best practices. After all, many entrepreneurs and business owners are still trying to find their way on the site.
Based on my observation and experience, the three worst mistakes made on LinkedIn are as:
Failure to develop the summary section of the LinkedIn profile
Many people, upon creating a LinkedIn account, bypass the summary and go right to the experience section and add information about their company, product catalog or service offerings to their profiles. The summary, situated right underneath the LinkedIn billboard (snapshot of current user status) is about you. It is where you provide the back-story on yourself, articulate your unique value proposition and key people into why and how you do what you do.
In the digital era, it is a red flag to not let people see who you are, especially if you place a premium on developing cohesive relationships or are looking to build a brand. Entrepreneurs and business owners shake a lot of hands during the course of a week and, over time, can move out of the memories of those they meet. Easy remedy: invest in a high-quality, professional business portrait that accurately captures your energy and humanity and gives others a fighting chance to remember you. People don’t do business with ghosts.
Not sending a personalized LinkedIn invitation to connect
In my opinion, the greatest mistake made on LinkedIn is the failure to personalize an invitation to connect. A warm, diplomatic approach builds trust and rapport instantly. It amazes me that people continue to send the default and highly impersonal greeting that LinkedIn provides. Moreover, importing email directories (Outlook, Yahoo, etc.), and sending out invitations en masse will not allow you to personalize the message. The goal is to assemble a network organically, one person at a time, and get to know your connections.
Once you attach significance to your LinkedIn activities, and realize that the manner in which you present is being received by others in a uniquely professional context, you can correct mistakes on the fly and derive maximum benefits.
J.D. GERSHBEIN, CEO of OWLISH COMMUNICATIONS is a specialist in the Art and Science of LinkedIn. He is a trusted asset to top executives, managers, entrepreneurs, professional service providers, salespeople, and those involved in the search for their next great opportunity. J.D. offers unrivaled strategic direction to individuals and firms -- ranging from small to medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) to Fortune 500 companies -- in using LinkedIn to build brand and generate revenue. Dubbed “The Oracle of LinkedIn,” J.D. is considered one of the top LinkedIn strategists in the world and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn educational programs. A highly sought-after international speaker, J.D. draws upon his background in marketing communications, industrial psychology, neuroscience, improvisational comedy and broadcast media to inspire opportunity-oriented professionals in all walks of business. J.D. is also an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart Graduate School of Business where he teaches the school’s first-ever course in social media. His first book, a treatise on social neuromarketing and LinkedIn communication strategies will be available in 2012.