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Personal branding on LinkedIn: 11 mistakes to avoid

by Carolyn Hyams

Personal branding on LinkedIn: 11 mistakes to avoid

LinkedIn is a fantastic online business networking platform for professionals. And for job seekers, it’s a brilliant place to showcase yourself and your personal brand. But, if you’re doing the following, you’re NOT doing “Brand You” any favours:

1. Don’t use anything other than a professional looking photo — preferably head and shoulders.

Remember, LinkedIn is a professional platform, so a photo of you downing a beer at a pub, or in your bikini, should be reserved for other social platforms like Facebook. Some people don’t have photos at all. It makes me think they have something to hide and it’s just a little bit creepy (along with those to choose to be anonymous)... We live in a visual world and people want to see who you are and what you look like.

2. Don’t lie.

All your connections can view your profile and if you lie, you will be found out. It will be very embarrassing too. Look what happened to former Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson.

3. Don’t send people an invitation to connect with LinkedIn’s default text.

It makes them think you couldn’t be bothered to write a personalised message. Why would they bother connecting with you? Give them a good reason, especially if they don’t know you. Note: currently on smartphones, the iPad app, and some pages on the LinkedIn website eg. “People you may know” - LinkedIn sends off the invite without giving you the opportunity to customise the message. I always feel a little embarrassed when this happens. LinkedIn needs to fix this, but in the meantime, avoid these when sending requests.

4. Don’t use the “Friend” option when connecting unless you are a friend of theirs.

It’s a major pet peeve for many professionals on LinkedIn and they won’t want to connect with you.

5. Don’t forget to include all links to your other platforms — and name them.

Many people don’t even know you can do this in the “Contact Details” section of your profile. You can include up to 3 links under the “Websites” heading. So for example, I’ve included Firebrand’s website, Aquent’s website and Vitamin T’s website - all brands that I market. There’s another section to include your Twitter address. Again, you can include up to 3 links here (and name them). I’ve included my own, plus others I manage.

6. Don’t leave your LinkedIn profile incomplete if you want to be found.

LinkedIn has a “wizard” which guides you through completing your profile and tells you when it is 100% complete. Most important is your Summary, your Experience, your Skills & Endorsements, and your Headline. Make sure that they are “keyword rich”. Did you know that all these sections, and more, are searchable? So if you want to be found, make the effort to optimise your profile. You can also choose the order in which they are displayed.

7. Don’t be lazy when sharing links and updates.

Customise your message for LinkedIn. Many people post the same message on multiple platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ instead of customising their message. It irritates people when they see @Twitter handles and #Hashtags on LinkedIn status updates. Take an extra couple of minutes to customise and you’ll reap the benefits.

8. Don’t use LinkedIn groups purely for getting “linkbacks” to your website or blog

You will be flagged a spammer and won’t be able to post to groups again. A well managed LinkedIn group is tightly monitored and most will only allow discussions, questions, and commentary. Many will allow you to link to other people’s blog posts, but not your own. A bit strange if you ask me. Even if your post is totally relevant to the discussion; it is perceived as self-promotion.

9. Don’t spam your connections.

Don’t use your LinkedIn as your email marketing platform and spam people with news and events about your company. Most won’t be interested and will remove you as a connection.

10. Don’t ask people who DON’T know you well in a professional capacity to write recommendations for you.

It’s awkward for them and you won’t get a recommendation that you’ll want to publish anyway. Remember, it’s not about the quantity of the recommendations, it’s about the quality of them. And for the record, tit for tat, reciprocal recommendations look dodgy.

11. Don’t endorse people you don’t know.

You can read a post here that I wrote specifically about this. Not only does it devalue the whole LinkedIn endorsements system, but you end up looking like an idiot because the person on the receiving end is shaking their head and thinking “why on earth would someone I haven’t dealt with endorse me?”. Is there anything I should have added to this list? Please add your thoughts to the comments below.

About the author


As Marketing Director for Aquent, Firebrand Talent and Vitamin T in Australia, I am responsible for brand and digital marketing strategy across all three brands. I bring a wealth of local and international experience to the team, including expertise in digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, brand development and strategy, marketing strategy and execution, PR, sponsorships, events marketing and graphic design. 

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About Author

As Marketing Director for Aquent in Australia, I am responsible for our digital marketing strategy and execution. I bring a wealth of local and international experience to the team, including expertise in digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, brand strategy and development, marketing strategy and execution, PR, sponsorship negotiation and partnerships building, and design. I would describe myself as a self-motivated, results-driven marketer who isn't scared to try new approaches. I really dislike doing things over and over again and expecting a different result. A down-to-earth person, I love to share my knowledge, mentor and coach those with less experience than me; building relationships with industry influencers and connecting people who could help each other. Outside of work, I love good food and drinking organic red wine and single malt scotch. When I'm not eating or drinking, you'll find me exercising with my Mini Schnauzer Roxy, or on my runabout boat exploring the Sydney harbour.

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