Basic Rules of Using LinkedIn

by Bornheimer, Kathy Wednesday, April 27, 2011
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While LinkedIn is a form of social media and networking, it must be used as a tool with a professional focus. More and more articles are being written about how to use LinkedIn, so here are some major considerations and basic etiquette dos and don’ts:
Why do you have a LinkedIn account?
• I’m a job seeker
• I’m changing or managing my career
• I’m starting a business or becoming self-employed
• I’ve accepted a LinkedIn invitation, opened an account, but don’t know what to do with it.

How often do you review your account and or provide updates?
• Five or six times per week
• Once a week
• Monthly
• When someone reminds me to

How are you using LinkedIn?
• Research purposes; who’s doing what or learning about potential employers/customers
• Educational (networking or business events, seminars, Webinars, etc.)
• Creating a brand or image (how to you portray yourself or services to others)
• Relationship building

Focus on Quality over Quantity
This concept is repeated by all authors on this subject. It’s not the number of connections; it’s the quality and the relationships that you have developed with these connections. Just as important is the fact that these are connections; not friends. You save those people for Facebook. Too many people confuse or mix the two forms of Social Media, keep them separate.
One common trait of both is what you have on your profiles. Since this is Internet based anyone has access to this information. Don’t include anything you wouldn’t want your Mother, boss or certain co-workers to see!
Choose your words and posted activities/updates carefully. If you are currently employed, your manager/supervisor will be able to view this material by simply accessing LinkedIn. You also have to be mindful of your contacts and their information being accessible to their employers or competition.
One area that is repeatedly neglected is the photograph. All LinkedIn “experts” agree that this is a necessity and increases you’re ability to be contacted by the right people. As I often say;
“Very few of us are good looking; but most of us can look good.”
Business apparel for some is best and business casual is a minimum requirement. Look friendly, smart and approachable in your “head shot”, plus choose your background according to your coloring (complexion, hair and clothing).

Build your Network with a Purpose
You should be helping as often as asking for help or resources. Reciprocity goes a long way and is rewarded; always find ways to help people in your network. If you’ve chosen them wisely, they will be helping you. Monitor and modify your connections if/when necessary. If someone is not returning your calls nor replying to your emails, you should consider removing them.
Be mindful of 2nd generation connections in regards to mutual benefits. This is another greatly overlooked and under used feature of LinkedIn.

Other Rules
• No duplicate accounts, it confuses people and the inferior one will detract from your image and purpose.
• No personal or controversial comments or updates.
• You can say “No” to an invitation, but do it tactfully.
• Stay positive! Bad mouthing a person, employer, company or event can easily backfire. Since your comments/updates are brief, misinterpretation or a misunderstanding can occur.
• Be consistent, brief and purposeful with your updates. You need to keep yourself in front of people at reasonable intervals.
• Congratulate people in your network when they succeed (Update post or recommendation).

LinkedIn is a great tool and user-friendly. It’s the applications and the fluidity of this form of Social Media that makes it great for those who know how to use it wisely and well.