Talent Manager Laura Burns sent me a link this week to an article in Forbes Magazine about LinkedIn mistakes and since we are in the middle of a series of blog posts about LinkedIn, I thought you might be interested in my take on what Forbes thinks many people are doing wrong on LinkedIn.

Forbes emphasized the importance of LinkedIn for talent and companies alike and we agree.  LinkedIn is a great way to connect easily with the people you work with and meet through your work life and also a great way for companies to find talent and talent to find jobs.  But it definitely can suffer from the old “garbage in-garbage out” problem.  If you don’t use it well, it could hurt more than help.  Here are the mistakes Forbes says people are making and our opinion on them:

1.  Sending general invitations

Sure, if you click on that “Connect” button, LinkedIn will provide you with a little message box, already filled in with a message: “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” 

Oh, sorry, I got bored. 

You should personalize every invitation.  Remind your connection of where you met or your most recent conversation or where you worked together.  Be friendly and inviting and you are much more likely to get approved before your connection falls asleep.

2.  Ask for recommendations

BUT be sure you really know the person and be specific about what you are looking for.  Let them know what you would like them to talk about in regard to your experience and their relationship with you and they are much more likely to help you out.  Writing a recommendation without any parameters takes a lot more time than writing one with a specific purpose in mind.
3.  Never use default text. 
If there’s anything you want your professional connections NOT to think about you it’s that you’re lazy.  Write your own messages, always.
4.  Don’t link your Tweets to your LinkedIn Updates.  
If you were doing this, you’re not any more because this service has been discontinued, so lucky you! Read more… 
5.  Proofread, proofread, proofread.  
You can never proofread too many times.  Send a link to your profile to some trusted friends and have THEM proofread.  There are never too many sets of eyes on your professional materials, digital or print.

Forbes hit the nail on the head here, although they left out one of my favorites that newbies on LinkedIn like to do—don’t let LinkedIn populate your profile.  They can, but it won’t be in the right order and the details will not be presented in the ideal way.  Take the time to do it yourself here and when you connect and LinkedIn can be an asset whether you are a job seeker, employer or entrepreneur.

And if you find a typo in my Profile, please drop me a (personalized) note!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative