LinkedIn is a great medium to keep in touch with your network, to show your professional self to the working world, and to stumble upon new opportunities – a professional must-have, one might say. But what is the ‘proper’ way to behave on LinkedIn? Anne discusses her LinkedIn uncertainties.
Google gives me 3.760.000 results to the search terms ‘LinkedIn etiquette’, suggested articles include: ‘LinkedIn etiquette guide”, The 3 LinkedIn etiquette rules you should never break’ or ‘How to behave on LinkedIn?’
Obviously I am not the only one who struggles with LinkedIn uncertainties. Personally, I think LinkedIn is really great. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with people in your network that you do not speak to often, and it’s very handy for keeping up to date with opportunities or events in the professional fields you are interested in. However, not knowing what is the ‘right’ way to behave prevents me from making full use of its services.
For me the most difficult thing is keeping in touch with people you are connected to. In some cases this is not a problem at all, as you know what the other person is working on, and you might see him/her in person every now and than. Rather, I am talking about the type of contact you think could be really valuable, the high-up contacts you somehow managed to get in touch with, or the boss you used to work for about a year ago. Do these people still know who you are? Do they care? Would they want to be contacted by me? And what, except for asking favours, do I have to offer as a recent grad who is desperately looking for a job? From discussions I have had with friends, many young professionals and students seem to have this LinkedIn anxiety. Is there such a thing as the LinkedIn-nobody?
Another uncertainty I experienced, and hear about quite often from friends, concerns the ‘timing’ of connecting to somebody. Imagine you have spoken to somebody one the phone after some email contact, and will meet him/her in, say, two weeks for a possible job or internship. Do you connect to this person in LinkedIn? Do you wait until after the meeting? Do you at least ‘check out’ this person, or do you then risk that the other person sees that you have done so, without connecting? Do they check your profile?
Thirdly, all the above guidelines, as well as career services, tell you that your online presence is really important. You need to appear active, interested and enthusiastic through way you manage your LinkedIn profile. I do not think I have status updates that suit this professional ‘realm’ or are particularly interesting for others in my network. I cannot post about interesting upcoming events in my sector or business – as I am not in it. So, how does one manage one’s online presence, if your offline presence in the professional world is limited? Do you post for the sake of posting? Do you only ‘like’ other people’s updates? Do you connect your profile to your twitter account?
I would hate to just provide you with questions, so I will share some of my newfound knowledge (thank you Google) with you. Some of this sounds quite straightforward to me, but apparently these are the mistakes made most often by the users of LinkedIn, and these are definitely avoidable!
-Personalise every message, default texts are not appreciated.
-Check your spelling and grammar, do not be to informal.
-Do not connect your twitter account to your LinkedIn profile.
-Only connect, or ask for recommendations, from people you actually know.
Please feel free to share any LinkedIn knowledge you have, stories of great LinkedIn success (or failure). Make sure to ask us any other questions you have regarding LinkedIn etiquette, as we will try to get one of our coaches with much HR experience to share her view on LinkedIn usage!