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Member Appreciation Month Tip: Minding Your LinkedIn P's and Q's

Welcome Desk4Success-ers to Week 2: Polishing Your Professional Presence! Today we're exploring proper LinkedIn etiquette for better business networking.

LinkedIn is for Business (Only). LinkedIn differs from other social networking platforms in that it's only meant for business. So those family photos, political comments, and videos of you puking rainbows — all that should stay off of your LinkedIn profile.

Not on LinkedIn? Check out these YouTube videos on creating a LinkedIn account and updating your account for 2017.

The Golden Rule. The most important thing to remember when using LinkedIn is to treat your connections online the same way you would IRL. Build rapport. Be respectful. Don't overstep.

Making and Accepting Connections. 'Connecting' is to LinkedIn what 'Friending' is on Facebook. Once you've 'connected' to another person — either by their invitation or yours — you are considered a 1st-degree connection. And, like the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, you have an extended network of connections made up of people that your connections know. (Learn more here.)

Here are our some common do's and don'ts when it comes to connections:

  • Do send out invitations to connect soon after making a new acquaintance.
  • Don't send more than 2 connection requests to the same person.
  • Do open up a dialogue with a new connection by sending a personalized welcome message.
  • Do reply to connection requests in a timely manner...but don't feel obligated to accept every request you receive.
  • Don't play the numbers game and randomly send out invitations to connect without a good reason. 
  • Do connect with recruiters if you're job seeking, but don't send a request to connect to hiring managers. On the latter point, it may make the hiring manager uncomfortable and work against you.

Requesting and Providing Skill Endorsements. Like the 'skills' area on your CV, this is the section that lets you show off your areas of strength. Choose up to 50. Need ideas? Check out this list of top skills for attorneys.

Once you've added skills to your profile, your connections are able to 'endorse' them with one click. Likewise, you are able to endorse any skills listed on your connections' pages. 

Here are our do's and don'ts for handling endorsements:

  • Do ask your connections to endorse you.
  • Do personalize your endorsement request by asking your connection to endorse specific skills that make sense given your background working together.
  • Don't send endorsement requests to people who haven't worked with you. Read more about it in this IBJ article regarding the ethics of endorsing.
  • Do offer to reciprocate when appropriate.
  • Do make a habit of endorsing your connections' skills when and where appropriate. Be generous but make sure it's an endorsement you'd stand behind.
  • Don't forget to thank people who've endorsed you.

Requesting and Providing Recommendations. Again, if we're comparing this to your CV, this is the 'letters of recommendation' area of your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations are what really sell you, but they require a time commitment from the connection who's recommending you, as opposed to a one-click endorsement. 

The do's and don'ts listed above for endorsements also hold true for recommendations. Here are a few additional ones to keep in mind:

  • Do put more effort into personalizing any requests for recommendations. Let the connection know if there is something specific you would like them to include, if they choose to write one.
  • Do protect your reputation by being selective about whom you will recommend and the scope of that recommendation.
  • Do remove recommendations from your profile that you no longer want. If the recommendation promotes skills that are no longer relevant or is a lack-luster review that hurts more than helps, get rid of it.
  • Don't solicit recommendations from friends or connections that haven't worked with you. People expect to see recommendations from either your boss, work colleagues, or clients.

Other Best Practices. Here are a few more things to keep in mind...

  • Do present a professional visual image in your profile picture. No selfies.
  • Do keep it professional at all times, or risk ending up in hot water like this barrister.
  • Do disable your notifications when making lots of changes to your profile in one day (so you don't annoy your connections with multiple notices). Do turn it back on when you're done.
  • Do nurture your business relationships. Leave positive comments and congrats messages for others when you get a notification about their achievement.
  • Do matchmake between your connections in the hopes they will do the same for you.
  • Do keep it positive, especially when commenting on other people's posts.
  • Don't over post. Two a week is ideal, but no more than one status update per day.
  • Do provide content that is valuable and not just self-promotion.
  • Do use 'groups' to find connections at your dream company.
  • Don't be afraid to view the profiles of non-connections. People are expecting others to look at their profile and the assumption is that your interest in them is professional.

By minding your P's and Q's on LinkedIn and keeping your profile current and lively, you should be able to avoid missteps while cultivating new business relationships.

Follow ISBA on LinkedIn

Grow your career and develop relationships! Our company page will help you stay up-to-date on the ISBA community, membership benefits, job openings, upcoming CLE opportunities, and thought leadership. You can also build your professional network by connecting and engaging with like-minded attorneys by requesting to join our members-only ISBA LinkedIn Group.

Posted on May 8, 2017 by Sara Anderson
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