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Keeping It Professional on LinkedIn

May 14, 2021
The networking platform is moving in more than one direction, and as the user base grows and changes, the platform’s norms will change. For individual users, adaptation is the name of the game.

There are two movements happening right now on LinkedIn, the social media platform for professional networking: One is an effort to “keep it professional” and another is to create Facebook-lite, with side helpings of Instagram’s visuals and Twitter’s immediacy.  No matter which side of this social divide you fall on, there are still a few things you should not do on LinkedIn.

Things not to do on LinkedIn

Hawking your vacation property on LinkedIn? Not so helpful to your professional connections as say, posting a job or offering an informational industry article.

Offering your personal political commentary on LinkedIn? It’s done, but there is a huge difference between folks with an opinion on a singular issue versus those with a never-ending political agenda

Copy and paste someone else’s story into your post with a H/T: Name Name notation? While it can be eye-catching, it’s the social media equivalent of plagiarism. It also leaves the audience wondering what other professional ideas from others that you espouse as your own.

The cute story about your children’s life lesson? Exploitative. LinkedIn now allows 16-year-olds on the platform -- the idea being that they can start to make connections to grow their business network for internships. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is a searchable platform -- if your profile is set to public, the information is only as far away as a Google search. How would that child feel about that “cute” story of her 8-year-old self as she tries to create her professional persona?

Use it as a dating site? No … ‘nuff said.

Humble brag post with gratuitous selfie? People do it all the time. It is something one used to see on Facebook, five years ago.

At the end of the day, I view LinkedIn as a professional watercooler. Somebody is always going to overshare, just as they would at the office. But, if you know you have limited time to catch your CEO’s eye or check in with that client, you would certainly mind your Ps and Qs. You would have your best foot forward.  There are simple ways to do that on LinkedIn.

Things to do on LinkedIn

You must understand that the platform’s algorithm will push information you like or interact with into your connections’ feeds. Are you posting and interacting with content that’s helpful, interesting or useful to your connections? Interact with intention.

Know how to use the platform. @ posts to highlight people or companies in a way they will see it. The algorithm does not favor short-time posts; it is built for posts to grow in outreach over time. It also rewards posts that kick off quick interaction with larger reach. Additionally, the algorithm favors a limited number of hashtags -- very different from Instagram. Knowledge is power.

Enable your messaging. If you have a LinkedIn profile and are not regularly checking your messages, you are missing both messages and opportunities. This is how former colleagues, former or current clients and recruiters reach out to you. Stay in communication.

Keep engaged even when you aren’t looking for a new job. Nothing clues in your current work colleagues to your job search like a sudden surge of activity, to say nothing of all the potential opportunities you miss happening on a timeline different than your own. Consistency builds results.

But these are just one professional marketer’s opinions. (Marketer = someone who deals in communication and brand presence all day.)  The truth of the matter is that wherever we are, we bring ourselves, which means that the social media norms change as the user base changes.

Whatever my personal opinions are on the horror of LinkedIn’s selfie + humble brag posts, the norms of the social platform become those of its users. As the user base grows and changes, the social platform’s norms will change and other users have a choice of becoming marginalized or adapting.

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Manager at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.