LinkedIn Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts for Professionals

As the world’s largest professional networking platform, LinkedIn is a valuable tool for career development and networking. However, effectively leveraging LinkedIn requires knowledge of proper etiquette. This article explores the dos and don’ts of presenting yourself professionally on LinkedIn.

With over 900 million users, LinkedIn has become an essential platform for professionals. It allows connecting with peers, staying up to date on industry news, researching companies, and showcasing your skills. However, there are right and wrong ways to conduct yourself on LinkedIn.

 Profile Picture

Your profile picture is one of the first things people notice on LinkedIn. Follow these etiquette tips to make a good impression.

  • DO use a high-quality, professional headshot of just you for your profile picture. Selfies, group photos, or casual pictures don’t convey professionalism.
  • DO dress professionally in business or business casual attire for the photo. Avoid casual wear like T-shirts.
  • DO smile naturally and make eye contact with the camera. Warm, genuine expressions build rapport.
  • Don’t use distracting backgrounds like landscapes. Keep the focus on you. A solid color or subtle pattern is ideal.
  • DON’T include photos with sunglasses or hats which make you unidentifiable at a glance.

Your profile picture sets the tone for your brand. A polished, approachable headshot makes a strong first impression.

Headline

Your headline appears under your name and is valuable real estate for conveying what you do.

  • DO highlight your current job title and company so connections instantly know your role.
  • DO include relevant keywords that describe your expertise like “Digital Marketing Professional.”
  • DON’T make headlines too general like “Marketing Expert.” Get more specific.
  • Don’t rely solely on your job title if it’s cryptic. Expand on what you do.
  • Don’t be overly self-promotional or use gimmicky headlines. Keep it concise and informative.

An effective headline makes your expertise searchable and helps guide contacts on how to engage with you professionally.

Summary

Your summary section provides an overview of your professional background and capabilities.

  • DO devote time to writing a robust, keyword-rich summary that outlines your value professionally. This is a prime space to stand out.
  • DO tailor your summary to your target role and industry if actively job seeking. Reflect on the language those companies use.
  • Don’t just list past job titles and education. Expand on achievements, skills, and specialties.
  • DON’T use first-person pronouns like “I” or “me.” Keep the language objective.
  • Don’t leave the summary blank. Provide connections and insights into how you can collaborate.

A thoughtful summary gives contacts a full picture of your experience and professional brand.

Media

Posting rich media like photos, videos, and presentations strengthens your LinkedIn presence.

  • DO share new media regularly to keep your profile fresh and engaging for visitors.
  • DO infuse your personality into the content – behind-the-scenes photos/videos from work events, for example.
  • Don’t oversaturate with too much professional media that lacks variety or personality.
  • Don’t post unprofessional content like party photos. Maintain the workplace tone.

Tasteful, fresh media content makes you more memorable and approachable to new connections.

Connections

Growing your network in a meaningful way takes etiquette.

  • DO connect with colleagues, classmates, clients, industry peers, etc. Nurture real relationships.
  • DO personalize connection requests with a note addressing how you know them or share interests/goals.
  • Don’t connect randomly with strangers just to inflate your number of connections. Focus on quality.
  • DON’T use default connection requests. Take the time to add a personal message.

Making thoughtful connections, not just mass connections, strengthens your network and builds rapport.

Engagement

Thoughtfully engaging with other members’ content strengthens relationships and showcases your expertise.

  • DO actively like, comment on, and share posts from connections that inspire or teach you something new.
  • DO post your original insights and articles to establish yourself as a subject matter expert.
  • DON’T self-promote excessively. Your page shouldn’t just showcase your content.
  • Don’t post too frequently. Once or twice per day is typically sufficient.

When done right, engaging meaningfully makes you a valued member rather than just a self-promoter.

Recommendations

Recommendations from past managers and colleagues carry weight with recruiters.

  • DO proactively request recommendations from bosses and coworkers who can vouch for your skills and character.
  • DO offers to reciprocate by providing them with recommendations in return.
  • Don’t ask for recommendations from people who hardly know you just to expand your number of endorsements. Quality over quantity.
  • DON’T request recommendations from employers you left on bad terms. Negative remarks could follow.

Well-written recommendations that cite specific examples of your contributions make a big impact.

Job Applications

When applying for jobs through LinkedIn, maintain professionalism.

  • DO thoroughly customize your application with details on how your background meets the position’s needs. No generic applications.
  • DO follow up a week after applying if you haven’t heard back. Briefly reiterate your interest and qualifications.
  • Don’t apply for jobs where you lack the required qualifications in hopes they’ll overlook it. Be qualified.
  • Don’t apply just because it’s a prominent company. Make sure the role is an authentic fit.

Targeted, thoughtful applications tailored to the role stand out and demonstrate your professionalism.

Messages

Messaging contacts directly enables building rapport, but mind your manners.

  • DO customize messages based on what you know about the recipient from their profile and posts.
  • DO proofread messages before sending them to avoid typos or improper tone. Treat it like professional business correspondence.
  • Don’t use shorthand like “LOL,” emojis, or text speak. Maintain proper language.
  • Don’t overshare personal details early on before establishing a relationship. Keep it professional.

Proper messaging etiquette makes exchanges more meaningful and productive.

Groups

Joining relevant professional groups provides visibility to new connections while allowing you to share expertise.

  • DO become an active member of a few niche industries or topic groups aligned with your role.
  • DO contribute value by commenting on discussions and posting relevant articles. Position yourself as an expert.
  • Don’t join too many groups just to inflate your number of memberships. Pick a few where you can actively engage.
  • DON’T self-promote without adding value. Over-posting your content is spammy.

Active participation in targeted groups expands your reach and showcases your thought leadership.

InMail

InMail allows you to directly contact LinkedIn members, even if you’re not connected. Use judiciously.

  • DO utilize InMail to thoughtfully contact leaders and executives you admire but aren’t connected to.
  • DO personalize each InMail by explaining why you’d value connecting based on shared interests or expertise.
  • Don’t abuse InMail’s capabilities to spam people with pre-written messages. This will likely get you blocked.
  • DON’T contact extremely senior executives who receive excessive outreach. Target individuals more realistically.

When used properly, InMail provides access to influential new connections.

ProFinder

ProFinder allows LinkedIn members to find and hire freelancers. Present yourself professionally.

  • DO fill out your ProFinder profile completely, highlighting expertise, past projects, and reviews.
  • DO be responsive and thoughtful in communicating with prospective clients. View it as an audition.
  • Don’t apply for projects where you lack the skills or availability solely to get hired. Set realistic expectations.
  • DON’T submit generic proposals. Personalize each one to the client’s unique project needs.

A stand-out ProFinder presence can lead to lucrative freelance opportunities.

Conflicts

Disagreements on LinkedIn should be handled gracefully to protect your reputation.

  • DO disengage politely from heated discussions or provocative posts to avoid escalating negativity.
  • DO give constructive feedback privately if you take issue with a connection’s style or tone.
  • DON’T call out connections publicly even if you disagree. Take the high road.
  • Don’t burn bridges by making offensive or overly critical comments. These can haunt you.

Maintaining poise and professionalism during conflicts preserves goodwill and your brand.

Privacy

Adjust your privacy settings appropriately as your use of LinkedIn evolves.

  • DO periodically check your privacy settings and update them as needed as your career stage and goals change.
  • DO be cautious about sharing sensitive personal details like your address or birthday publicly.
  • DON’T accept connection requests from people you don’t know to protect your data.
  • DON’T leave your profile fully public if aiming to conceal a job search. Adjust visibility settings.

Prudent privacy settings give you control over your information and digital footprint.

Conclusion

Mastering LinkedIn etiquette enables professionals to maximize the platform’s advantages while avoiding missteps. A polished profile, thoughtful engagement, and professional communications are key. While learning proper conduct takes effort, the payoff in connections and opportunities is immense. With sound etiquette, LinkedIn can become a pivotal career development and networking tool. What best practices will you integrate starting today?

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