Having spent thousands of hours on LinkedIn, I have definitely made my share of mistakes. Part of the study of using LinkedIn (LinkedInology) is being a responsible user. Being such, I feel compelled to clear up some misinformation on the proper usage of LinkedIn. This has been prompted by some myths being spread by some ‘experts’ posting that logos are acceptable profile photos—they are not.
I’ve seen just about every trick in the book when it comes to being a smartypants with your LinkedIn profile. However, with all the good stuff LinkedIn offers us, we do as users sign a ‘user agreement’, encouraging us to be good LinkedIn citizens.
1. Don’t post a quirky, funny, or ‘creative’ profile photo.
(This contravenes legal agreement 25: [DON’T] Upload a cartoon, symbol, drawing or any content other than a headshot photograph of yourself in your profile photo.)
The LinkedIn smartypants will find any way known to humanity not to post a professional headshot. I’ve seen husbands, wives, dogs, cats, cows, and brides in that headshot and, of course, the ever popular company logo. I even read a slideshare presentation by a Melbourne LinkedIn ‘expert’ who advocated this practice!
Excuses roam far and wide: I’m just demonstrating my creativity; standing out: doing something different; I’m too ugly; everyone else has logos, avatars. Guess what? You and 500,000 others posting a logo graphic where your headshot should be, makes you look just plain ignorant, not creative at all.
Why not a company logo or design, I hear you cry? It’s not a human face, and LinkedIn is about connecting with people NOT companies. The company photo is the spot for the company logo. On LinkedIn you can follow company news, but you first need to connect with a human professional.
In addition, a professional headshot is about personal branding which has real value and currency separate to your business or company branding. LinkedIn is a huge opportunity to whip up your company’s SEO by linking your professional and company profiles with the appropriate online brand images.
2. Don’t connect with as many people as fast as you can, to build a database and email them all.
(This contravenes agreement 28F: [DON’T] Upload, post, email, InMail, transmit or otherwise make available or initiate any content that [constitutes] any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, ‘junk mail’, ‘spam’, ‘chain letters’, ‘pyramid schemes’, or any other form of solicitation. This prohibition includes but is not limited to:
(a) using LinkedIn invitations to send messages to people who don’t know you or who are unlikely to recognize you as a known contact;
(b) using LinkedIn to connect to people who don’t know you and then sending unsolicited promotional messages to those direct connections without their permission; and
(c) sending messages to distribution lists, newsgroup aliases, or group aliases)
Sorry smartypants, this is the least clever approach and went out with Privacy Law in Australia in the year 2000. Just connecting with people you don’t know and then emailing them is akin to being a spammer. And a great way to get blacklisted, hoisted into a phishing scam and having your own LinkedIn contacts spammed.
In addition, it uses the old method of marketing to, rather than engaging with. Every person in my LinkedIn network I have engaged with either in person, on the phone, within groups or in discussion over news or updates. And if they’ve got a funny quirky photo or are open networkers I’m always a bit suscpicious that at one time or another they will spam me.
3. Don’t post jobs in discussion forums because ‘its inexpensive and gets my business noticed’.
(This contravenes agreement 28: [DON’T] Upload, post, email, InMail, transmit or otherwise make available or initiate any content that [constitutes] … any other form of solicitation.)
Guess what smartypants, it doesn’t get you noticed because every other recruiter is doing it and its being moved into the job queue anyway. It’s also a way to really annoy other LinkedIn members as it’s the art of the old-fashioned interruption based method of getting noticed. Groups discussions are for discussions, not jobs.
I know the competition is tough for good talent but perhaps driving traffic toward you by offering value to group members is a smarter strategy than bursting into the room and yelling at a networking function: ‘I have a great job as a Digital Account Manager.’ Not only smartypants behaviour, but just plain rude.
4. Don’t advertise home-based business, opportunities based on pyramid, MLM or similar commission based schemes.
(This contravenes agreement 29: [DON’T] Participate, directly or indirectly, in the setting up or development of a network that seeks to implement practices that are similar to sales by network or the recruitment of independent home salespeople to the purposes of creating a pyramid scheme or other similar practices.)
Now smartypants, this is mine and many other legitimate LinkedIn networkers pet hate, which you should know is complete spam, against the LinkedIn rules and false and misleading advertising, as it’s not really a job, is it? Because there are no minimum pay rates nor basic employment conditions met (which are required under the Fair Work Act to constitute a job).
Plus you never post the name of this ‘home-based business opportunity’. Each post is a carbon copy spiel: “Fantastic home-based business opportunity with globally expanding international education and media, documentary producing company.” The following URL will read: live4wealth, or freedom4you or some such thing. The Trade Practices Act 1974, renamed the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, covers these issues.
Marketing 101 says you need to stand out from your competition, so do something different. This is absolutely true and there are hundreds of ways you can do this on LinkedIn without contravening the LinkedIn Terms of Service, which you read and agreed to these prior to obtaining your free membership.
(The Do’s and Don’ts of service terms, which are legally binding can be found here:
1. Log in to LinkedIn.com
2. Click on user agreement at the bottom of the screen, mid left.)