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LinkedIn Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn Marketing

Mar 11, 2016
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When it comes to social media, Facebook is king. With more than 1 Billion users on their network no one else comes close. But just because they are the biggest, doesn’t mean Facebook rules apply to the other networks. LinkedIn is designed and built for professionals looking for ways to connect with others in their industry, search job opportunities and learn from industry leaders. One of the biggest pet peeves for LinkedIn users is when people use this business social platform in the same way they use Facebook. So let’s take a look at what makes LinkedIn unique and some best practices when using the platform.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that when we go from Facebook to LinkedIn you need to flip a switch in your mind and adjust every time. Since this is a network for business professionals, the key is to keep it professional. The ultimate purpose of this social media site is networking and those that use it for that purpose have a lot to gain professionally. There are a number of ways you can use LinkedIn to connect and some big things you need to avoid.

What Not to Post on LinkedIn

To kick things off let’s get into some of the things you shouldn’t post on LinkedIn. Because this is a professional and business focused platform, what you post on LinkedIn will reflect on your professional reputation. Most LinkedIn users will agree that the following do not belong on this network and should stay over on Facebook or one of the other social sites.

  • Selfies
  • Math problems
  • What you're eating for dinner
  • Cat videos, etc

Avoid the Sales Pitch

Another thing to avoid on LinkedIn is the “Sales Pitch.” There is nothing wrong with posting updates to promote and market your product or service if your strategy is to inform and add value. But this should only be done if you are engaging with your connections on a regular basis. If you are rarely on LinkedIn and you are not actively connecting with others, a “hit and run” update with a link to your website to sell products or services looks “spammy” and will reflect negativity on your brand and your professional reputation.

Keep It Professional 

The last thing to avoid is controversial material. We’ve all seen it before; a news story about a public figure posting something on Facebook or Twitter that someone else found offensive and then they had to retract the statement. Thankfully for them, these platforms are much more forgiving when it comes to making these mistakes, LinkedIn is not. Here is a good rule of thumb, any material that is not appropriate in your work-setting will also be inappropriate on LinkedIn. This includes any updates of a sexual, religious or political nature.

If you are used to using Facebook, keep in mind that material that is appropriate on that or other social media platforms may not be appropriate on LinkedIn. Don’t blindly post or schedule things from your social media management tool without first reading them over. You have to be proactive to protect your online reputation and professional brand.

What to Post on LinkedIn 

So hopefully at this point you have a good understanding of what not to post on LinkedIn. Now let’s look at how you should and can use this platform to promote your professional brand and image.

Share Your insights

LinkedIn is all about creating connections and adding value. Sharing your thoughts on others' posts and adding to the conversation is something every LinkedIn user should be doing. Your goal should be to add value to the careers and lives of your connections, as well as reinforce your professional brand and share your expertise and interests. 

Share Your knowledge

LinkedIn is a great place to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. We live in a fast-paced business world and in order to get ourselves noticed and connected with the right people, we have to set ourselves apart. If you have a blog, post updates to LinkedIn and share your articles with your connections. If you don’t have a blog or are looking for more places to add content, you can write on LinkedIn’s Pulse. This is their “blog” platform inside of the social media network and your articles will be saved to your profile.

Share Your Experience

LinkedIn will auto update major career milestones for you such as new jobs or anniversaries. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the extra step to share your experience. Use your knowledge to add insights to others' posts. Show off your experience. You worked hard to earn it and if it adds value to others you should be proud to let others know. This is not about self-promotion. This is about differentiating yourself from others and giving you a platform to share your experience.

Motivate Others

Now there are a few out there who don’t like when others post motivational quotes or images on LinkedIn. I disagree. Motivation and encouragement are key in building relationships. That's what making connections is all about right? The key here is to find quotes and motivational images that make sense to share. Seth Godin, ZigZiglar and Steve Jobs are some great business leaders and revolutionaries who also have some powerful quotes. When posting motivational material, keep it professional. Find quotes from leaders in your industry you can share or share your own quotes. The key is adding value and avoiding non-relevant posts.

While LinkedIn is a professional social media network, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the network. Just be focused, approachable and make sure you have fun. Don't post anything you wouldn't want a business prospect, a potential employer or a strategic partner to see. You don’t want people to question your abilities or second guess your dependability.

LinkedIn may be very different from Facebook and the other social media sites but it doesn’t mean you have to be boring, be stern or be lame. Don’t take yourself too seriously, just keep it professional, clean and respectful. LinkedIn is trying to keep and promote a higher standard of social interaction and we all have to do our part to keep it that way.

creating the ultimate LinkedIn company page

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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