7 LinkedIn etiquette rules you need to follow
LinkedIn is arguably the largest and most frequently used professional network online. And it's growing at a very fast pace. As of December 31, 2012, LinkedIn had more than 200 million members in over 200 countries, with new accounts being created at a rate of approximately two per second.
If you're a small business owner who targets professionals and other small businesses, you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. But keep in mind that LinkedIn is a very different animal than other social networks you may be using in your business. The LinkedIn etiquette rules below will help you make stronger connections and build a better network that will help you grow your small business.
- Use a real photo of you – One key part of completing your LinkedIn profile is uploading a headshot or photo. Sure, you could use a picture of your dog, Fluffy, but keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional network. In order to form genuine connections, people want to know who you are. A professional headshot is always the best choice.
- Check your account on a regular basis – You don't need to be logged into LinkedIn all day long, but if you're interested in growing your network, you should log in at least a few times a week to respond to messages, accept connection requests and interact with other users.
- Customize your connection requests – When you request a connection with someone else, delete the LinkedIn message template that says, “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” and write a short, personal message that highlights how you met or know each other and why you'd like to connect. This personal touch will go a long way!
- Keep your social updates off LinkedIn – Each network has a different audience, so syndicating your updates is generally not a good idea. Avoid using apps that allow you to feed your Twitter and Facebook updates directly into your LinkedIn profile. Instead, aim to be more deliberate about what you're posting to LinkedIn and know whom you're trying to reach with your updates.
- Find your posting sweet spot – While you're thinking about relevant and useful status updates you can post on LinkedIn, consider timing. LinkedIn suggests posting 2-4 updates per day, during LinkedIn’s busiest hours – morning and midday, Monday through Friday. If you post many more updates than that, you may be considered a spammer.
- Select your groups carefully – You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn, but that doesn't mean you should! Limit your groups to those you are most interested in and make sure you engage in activity in your groups on a regular basis.
- Don't let the networking end with a connection – Connecting with someone on LinkedIn is only the first step. The real networking starts once you're connected. If you don't know new connections well, explore his or her profile and send a message to introduce yourself. Once you get to know each other, you can make introductions, referrals and possibly even meet offline.
LinkedIn is a robust professional network that can help you make connections, find new opportunities and grow your business. Follow the tips above and you will be able to use the network to your full advantage.
Alyssa Gregory is a small business consultant, writer, speaker and collaborator who has been helping start and grow small businesses for 13 years. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a free social, educational and collaborative community for small business owners, and author of the Connect Startup Toolboxes currently available on U.S. Bank Connect.
Connect with other small business owners and experts in the U.S. Bank Connect Small Business Forum, our new LinkedIn Group. It’s a great place to learn about topics that are important to small business owners, share knowledge and expertise, and get inspired through meaningful conversation.