We’ve all seen those posts on LinkedIn which make us cringe. You know – those selfie posts or people generally oversharing about their personal lives.
If you use social media on a day-to-day basis like us, you’ve probably seen many cases where people misuse it. While it can be surprising to see how people use personal social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to share about their lives or post inflammatory opinions, people often forget that LinkedIn is primarily a professional network.
LinkedIn is transparent about its purpose. It is, in their own words, the world’s largest professional network. But even though the network exists to help people build relationships to further their careers, or to represent their organisations in a public forum, so many people use the platform in ways that are risky for their career, offensive or at worst spammy.
With that in mind, Fusion Media’s Managing Director Christopher Bassett discusses five things you should stop doing on LinkedIn right now:
1. Posting inflammatory comments
I post articles on LinkedIn regularly, and am no stranger to the comments section. Generally, I receive constructive comments on our articles — either people who enjoyed reading, raise relevant discussion questions about the article, or disagree with what I wrote in a respectful way.
But there’s a small portion of commenters who just want to let some anger or resentment out. I have had people criticise me personally, and to make very unfounded assumptions about me based on my posts. This type of thoughtless commenting often doesn’t reflect well on the person who is making it, especially since their profile is associated with their company and the fact that LinkedIn is a global platform with people who have very different cultural norms. What might be normal to say in one culture could be interpreted as very offensive by another.
It’s easy to forget that what we post on LinkedIn can be permanent. Users should remember that anything you do on the platform can become part of your professional record, and may also be a reflection on your employer, as your company name is tied to everything you post.
2. Selling via LinkedIn messaging
Everybody who’s been on LinkedIn has probably received a cold sales pitch through LinkedIn messenger. A person who you’ve either recently connected with at a exhibition, or who is requesting to connect with you, sends a canned or automated marketing pitch about their business. A common tactic these days is the bait and switch. This is where someone makes a note in the invitation about noticing your profile and wanting to be connected, then makes a sales pitch through messenger as soon as the invitation is accepted.
This is an immediate way to lose credibility with potential leads and is the professional equivalent of asking someone for their phone number at a bar before starting a conversation; I make a point of removing every person who does this from my connections list. I also make a point of rejecting anyone that sends me a request that I do not know or have had absolutely no dealings with.
Focus first on establishing a relationship or authentic rapport. Trying to sell to people who don’t even know you may work in some instances, but in many cases, it rubs people the wrong way and can make them distrustful of your entire organization. People can also see right through the AI bots that are commonly used in LinkedIn messenger to try to get the other person to engage, they don’t feel genuine or personal.
3. Tagging unrelated people in your posts for exposure
Writing articles about influential people or posting a question for someone you know in a comment or post is a smart strategy for building awareness and dialogue. But some on LinkedIn try to gain visibility for their posts by tagging unrelated people who have big followings. This is similar to putting lots of hashtags at the end of your post.
Again, tagging people is not necessarily a bad idea, but make sure those people are clearly related to your content. If you’re tagging lots of people who have nothing to do with what you’re sharing, it might devalue your content and affect your credibility with other readers. You might also upset that person, who can untag themselves and may even remove you as a connection.
4. Talking Politics
There’s a time and place for political opinions — but unless politics is your career, it isn’t a great idea for LinkedIn. And this isn’t just the case for inflammatory political opinions either — it’s impossible to know what political comments may be distasteful to others or rub them the wrong way.
If your organisation is listed on your LinkedIn profile — as is the case for many — it’s vital to remember that you represent that organisation on the site. LinkedIn is not the appropriate forum for political discourse, especially when you are representing your employer.
5. Posting Selfies
I admit, I’m not a fan of taking selfies – no matter the social platform. End of. I don’t like seeing just a face – I prefer to see more of what the person is doing. I view it as self-obsessed or simply just obnoxious, but either way, I just scroll past without reading the post and I know many others that do the same.
Don’t forget about what I said earlier – LinkedIn is a professional network. What you get away with posting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, doesn’t mean you should post it on LinkedIn. At least this is my view. Maybe I’m just hideous! It’s a case of knowing your audience and what works on one social platform, doesn’t mean it will work on another.
Having said all of the above, LinkedIn is a great platform for business, but it’s far more effective when you use it correctly and don’t try to force things in an unnatural way. Stopping these five things will make you a better networker and hopefully help you to build more positive professional relationships.
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