New Media Newsletter
Four Reasons You Stink At LinkedIn
by Jake Potter on 07/10/2012
My name is Jake Potter, and I used to stink at LinkedIn.
I created my account my freshman year in college, not long after the network launched. Social media was the hip new thing – the blue fellow from my homepage, TheFacebook.com, came close to burning itself into my monitor – and I was excited to get five-figure internship offers from corporate execs who undoubtedly were clicking "refresh" and waiting for a candidate like me to come along. So I uploaded my poorly-formatted resume and waited.
I didn't get one bite. In fact, I could have counted my connections on one hand for a year, and one of those was my mom.
Fortunately, things got better. I started asking questions. Things began to make sense.
It's 2012, and social media today is a different beast entirely. (Confession: sometimes I still catch myself typing thefacebook.com into the URL box.) Access to how-to guides and best practices has never been greater. So, without further ado, here are the four LinkedIn lessons that helped me learn enough to be dangerous.
Four Reasons You Stink At LinkedIn
#1. Because you never log in and read the News Feed.
Part of the reason my LinkedIn profile did so poorly in the beginning was because I only spent time on my own appearance and didn't bother to invite others to connect with me. Today, LinkedIn shares a common bond with Facebook – a News Feed. Use it to your advantage and keep track of what your connections are up to. Do they have new jobs? Have you followed companies for their status updates? (As an aside, if you're not creating your own status updates, this is a great way to grow your visibility.)
#2. Because you still use the stock "invite to connect" language.
"I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" ranks highly among my most-despised phrases. It says to me that you don't put much energy into your invites. It won't stop me from accepting your invitation, but I'm more apt to remember a customized message, like "Great to meet you at the networking meeting Friday. Let's grab coffee sometime soon." Generally speaking, the more you can do to make your LinkedIn presence unique and conversational, the more likely people are to strike up a conversation. Funny how that works.
#3. Because you think you deserve Recommendations.
Many LinkedIn users find it awkward to ask people to write a Recommendation for them. I'm one of those people -- it's totally awkward. So here's what I do: I message someone and offer to write a recommendation for them, and kindly ask if they'd be willing to do the same in return. I guarantee results when you stick your neck out there and initiate the networking, with a LinkedIn experience that will dramatically improve.
#4. Because you wait for the action to come to you.
You can spend plenty of time fixing up your front porch, but unless you're hosting a BBQ, it's going to be hard to get people to just walk up, right? Now, replace "front porch" with "LinkedIn profile" and replace "hosting a BBQ" with "giving away paying jobs."
Simply put: even the best profiles often cannot pull in the desired amount of traffic without its owner rolling up his or her sleeves and reaching out to people.
Use the "People You May Know" tool. Browse your colleagues' connections for ideas. Ask someone to introduce you if necessary – it works well, especially if you offer to do the same for them in return.