LinkedIn Rumors You Can Ignore

Stop Doing These LinkedIn Best Practices
by Jill Jacinto
Photos Stephanie Yang | November 03, 2016
True: Jill Jacinto is one of our mentors. Book a 50-minute one-on-one session with her to overhaul your own LinkedIn profile (or for help on pretty much anything else to do with your career). 
Sometimes it seems like everyone is giving you career advice, especially when it comes to building your LinkedIn profile.
Not all advice is good advice. Feel free to ignore the four common false LinkedIn tips below:

False: You need a professional photo

True: While you do not need to hire a photographer and spend a ton of money on your photos, you do need to upload a photo. People might advise you to invest in taking standard head shots for your photo. I say save your money and invest it in another career tool.

Have a friend or colleague with a good camera or even an iPhone take a photograph of you. This shouldn’t be any photo. You should think about creating a scene that truly captures you doing the work you love to do. If you are a professor perhaps it is you in front of your whiteboard. If you are an interior designer it is you in your studio with color swatches and sketches in the background. Or if you are in graphic design it is you with your computer and a few of your favorite designs on the screen. If you enlarge the image and it becomes pixelated, choose another. Placing yourself into the context of your work helps people immediately see you are a perfect fit. Always make sure to choose a photo in color, smile and pay attention to details.

By the way, you should avoid photos of you and your dog, husband, baby, you in a bikini, wearing sunglasses, or from your wedding. You might look great in these photos, but the only message they send is that you are not professional.

False: Skip the summary section

True: Always include a summary. I help many clients with their LinkedIn profiles, and I can attest to the fact that the summary section is often the most ignored bit of a LinkedIn profile, yet the most essential.

It's tough to write about yourself. I advise clients to think of this section as a cover letter, except instead of focusing on a specific person, role or company, you're simply advertising your work history and connecting the dots of your career. You also get a chance to show off your personality, which is why it's a good idea to write it in the first person. If you skip writing something in this section, you are running the risk of people not getting to know you, your career, or your aspirations.

You also should understand that the summary section is where you can really hook a client, a hiring manager, or a recruiter. If the first few sentences are engaging, you'll have a better chance of the reader staying tuned in for the rest of your profile.

False: Accept all people that connect with you

True: LinkedIn is NOT a numbers game like some of the other social networks. We have all received messages from people we do not know and either have no photo, no personalized message, or no information in their profile. You should not feel obligated to connect with everyone who sends you a message.

Instead, connect with people who will enhance your professional network. If you see an incoming connection request, I would advise you to explore that person's profile before making a decision. If it seems like this person and you could have a business connection, send them a message before you accept. Build your potential relationship by asking them about their career and see if you can discover mutual interests to move your LinkedIn relationship forward.

If after viewing their response, you think they would be a good fit for your network, connect away. If not, no worries. It is not a problem to turn them down. This person will never realize you didn't connect. People do not get a message saying, "Jill Jacinto ignored your connection request" so you are in the clear.

On the flip side, when you are sending connection requests, remember to always personalize them. Personalize requests to people you know and maybe have a loose connection with. Give these people a brief refresher on who you are and why you are looking to add them to your network.

False: Include all recommendations

True: It might seem counterintuitive to ignore a recommendation but hear me out. You do want to create a robust and engaging profile. Recommendations help amplify your skills and work ethic by having people who have worked with you sing your praises.

That being said, I was recently recommended by my college roommate's mom. We never worked together! She might know about me and the work that I do, but we never had a working relationship. Since this was not an authentic recommendation, I chose to not display it.

You need your recommendations to be genuine and authentic. They also should articulate specific details about your work and come from a range of sources: boss, clients, co-workers, assistants. If your recommendations are looking a bit sparse, offer to give someone a recommendation in exchange for one.

Give these people a bulleted list of what you'd like them to focus on so that they actually discuss the work and not say, "Jill is smart, a quick learner and a pleasure to work with." While that is a great review, it says a lot but doesn’t give a lot of information. Instead, "Jill recently created and led a career workshop with my team of 8 employees where she was able to boost morale, engagement and give them actionable takeaways. She also created 30 pieces of career content for our website."
What's your most nagging question about LinkedIn? Ask us below and we'll answer it for you in a future article. 
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