No matter what industry you’re in, networking is the supreme principle in advancing your career. In most cases, modern networking means a strong LinkedIn presence. LinkedIn has cornered the market as the prime social media option for the professional world, and proper LinkedIn etiquette is a skill every professional needs to learn.
Part of that etiquette is knowing what NOT to do on the platform. LinkedIn isn’t the same as other social media platforms, and if you annoy your network, you’ll find yourself alienating your potential allies.
Your personal brand is important, and you don’t want that brand to be “an annoyance.” Unless you’re looking to be a nuisance, avoid these annoying LinkedIn behaviors.
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for getting in touch with people you otherwise may never speak to. You can research prospective employers, find informational interviews, reach out to those in new industries, or look into those previously employed at companies you’re interested in.
But you can’t simply fire connection requests and cold messages to every person on the website. You should take time to carefully craft any requests and take time to explain who you are and why you’d like to connect. Quality leads are better than quantity.
Josh Steimle uses mass tagging connections in posts as another type of spam to avoid. If you’re constantly looking for attention by overly tagging people, you’ll soon find yourself blocked.
LinkedIn itself, a pretty credible source on this particular topic, says to avoid coming across as “salesy.”The platform may be designed for professional development, but no one wants your service shoved in their face immediately. Treat your potential connections as actual people rather than pure customers.
Don’t be generic
Hand-in-hand with the above point, the more generic you are in your efforts, the less interested people will be in interacting with you. As Forbes’ William Arruda reminds us, spammers and bots are a plague on LinkedIn, and it can be detrimental to your efforts if you sound like one.
On paper, a high volume of messages sounds like a good way to get at least some positive responses. But like with applying for jobs, spray-and-pray techniques rarely work. Any pitch you’re planning on sending should be carefully thought out and provide value to your target. Make an effort to reference something they’ve done or how their experience inspired you. A generic pitch is wasting their time and yours.
“For some reason, people think it is effective to cold pitch people without any preparation or research. The funniest is when someone sends me a message on LinkedIn offering their totally irrelevant service and says something along the lines of “We see that at your company you do XYZ and thought you could use my product.”” -Hillel Fuld
It should go without saying, but don’t lie to your potential connections about what you can do for them. While your pitch should have value to the connection, it needs to actually be something you can deliver.
Trickery on LinkedIn isn’t just lying about your skills, experience, or connections. William Arruda uses the example of deceiving your new connection by asking for time to get to know them or claiming you’re doing research for a project when in actuality you’re trying to make a sale or ask for a job opportunity. Once it gets out that you’re taking advantage of the generosity of others, you’ll find it harder to make connections.
“If your true intention is to make a sale, don’t imply it’s about the joy of just getting to know and learn about people. This subterfuge is beyond annoying.” –William Arruda
“Weird Al” Yankovic once wrote a song called “Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me” regarding chain emails and overshared images that plagued the early internet days. Unfortunately, the song is relevant once again as LinkedIn spammers fill your feed with unwanted content.
Alexander Krastev notes useless polls, irrelevant tear-jerking or viral videos, cringey memes, and overly shared stories as the types of eye-rolling content plaguing the platform. While it can seem cruel to vilify this type of content, a good deal of it is fake and overshared simply to generate clicks and engagement.
LinkedIn is supposed to be a place for professionals to connect and share relevant content. While it doesn’t hurt to have some fun, save the off-topic content for Twitter and Instagram.
Don’t use it as a dating site
Speaking of keeping it professional, while LinkedIn is a social media platform, it isn’t meant to be a dating pool. Save the cracking on for Tinder or Bumble, and let LinkedIn remain a safe place to grow professionally.
Good LinkedIn etiquette shares much in common with good social media etiquette, or just good manners in general. Treating your future connections like actual human beings and not just avenues for gain goes a long way. Be authentic and offer value to others, don’t bombard the platform with irrelevant content to get attention, and keep things professional and you’ll be viewed as someone people wish to connect with. Happy connecting!