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LinkedIn Connection Requests – Don’t be THAT Guy!

I am as big a fan of LinkedIn as the next guy. I have found it to be a valuable tool to build my network, enhance my professional brand and recruit for my company. I would say that for many people, myself included, LinkedIn has been become a virtual extension of their professional persona. In fact, in many ways and depending on who is looking at my profile on LinkedIn, it IS my professional brand – at least at that moment in time.

So, my advice to people who are either on LinkedIn (but not actively managing their account) or are thinking about joining LinkedIn is to make sure that what you (eventually) portray on LinkedIn is in line with the professional brand/image you want to be identified with. In fact, because LinkedIn forms such a vital part of anyone’s professional network and image, I have blogged many times about proper LinkedIn etiquette on a variety of topics that can be found here , here, here, here, here and here.

Linkedin Meme

However, today’s topic is focused on one particular area of etiquette violation that seems to be an increasing trend on LinkedIn and that is the “Connect and Sell” request. For those that have received these types of requests and emails you know exactly what I am talking about. You receive a connection request from someone that you don’t know, in the spirit and intent of LinkedIn you accept the request, only to have this person minutes (maybe hours) later send you a sales pitch to either buy their latest piece of software/technology, use their recruiting services or subscribe to their training services. Sorry to pick on these folks but in my world that is what I experience. Seriously!? Is this how we do business now? There is no way that anyone can tell me that this approach works! I know what I do when I receive those requests…nothing. Yup, nada. In fact, it makes we want to “disconnect” with that person right away.

So, if you are one of the spammy spammers doing this – please stop.   No one appreciates this approach and it reflects poorly on your professional brand and probably your company. You are the source of memes everywhere. Think about it – if you were selling a software package to someone that you NEVER had any contact with before, would you walk up to them on the street and say, “Hi, my name is Joe from ACME Software. We have never met but I would like to meet you. Thank you, would you like to buy my software product?” It truly is as INSANE as it is written there!

Going forward, do yourself a favour. Use LinkedIn to make connections and build relationships. It is NOT there for you to use as a cold calling (cold emailing?) tool. Take some pride in what you do and how you define your professional brand because this approach reflects poorly on you. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

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Do’s and Don’ts for your LinkedIn Profile Picture

It has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. If this is true, then your profile picture is the window to your LinkedIn identity! I get asked a ton of questions about LinkedIn, ranging from “what is LinkedIn” to “how do I increase views of my profile.” I don’t consider myself to be an uber-guru of all things LinkedIn like the awesome Stacy Donovan Zapar; however, having been using LinkedIn since the early days of its inception and having used it to recruit staff for an equal number of years, I feel “qualified” to offer up a bit of advice on the subject matter. Plus, consider this advice is coming from someone who has been recruiting and hiring staff for 19+ years so I spend a lot of time looking at resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

LI Logo #2

If you do a Google search for “LinkedIn tips”, you will get over 301 MILLION hits! Suffice it to say, there is a lot of advice out there. While I have blogged about LinkedIn a lot with specific posts on tips and tricks, I want to hone in on one particular area that I think folks could use a bit of specific advice in and that is the LinkedIn profile picture. To that extent, here are my top tips when it comes to managing your profile picture:

  1. Do have a picture – this is not optional. Do not have the shadow/silhouette figure up there. Nothing turns a recruiter off more than seeing this, so do yourself a favour, get someone to take a decent professional picture (plain background) and get it up on your profile page –ASAP.
  2. Do not use an image or logo as your picture – unless you are some well- known graphics designer and you have a recognizable image, you need to have a picture of you up there and not an image of something.
  3. Do not use a picture of you at a party, wedding or other social event. It makes you look like an amateur if your profile picture is cropped from some social event. Worse yet, you often see the creepy arm of another person on you or vice versa. Resist the urge to be lazy and make sure you get a decent picture done.
  4. Do not use a scan of another picture as your profile picture –believe it or not, I have seen people use a scan of their passport or driver’s license photo as their profile picture. Suffice it to say, this looks less then professional – especially with the security lines showing through it.
  5. Do not have an action picture as your profile picture – it is cool that you are a great surfer, skier, runner, etc.; however,  we do not need to see a LinkedIn picture of you doing that – save it for Facebook.
  6. Do not use pictures of you on vacation as your image – see point #3 above for reasons. We get it, you enjoyed your trip to Paris and the Eiffel Tower is awesome, but it isn’t something we want to see on LinkedIn…put it on Facebook instead.
  7. Do make sure the picture is representative of your professional image. Pictures of you in a track suit or sports jersey, regardless of the quality of the image and/or success of your particular team, this is a big no-no.
  8. Do make sure your picture is shoulders and above only. Once you start getting into full length photos and trying to include background images, your photo quality and overall image rapidly deteriorates.  In the same vein, a picture that is a close up shot of just your face, is well, too close…and really creepy.
  9. Do not have a profile picture that includes your family, children or pets. It simply isn’t professional and not the image you want to portray. Again, those pictures are for Facebook, not LinkedIn.
  10. Do not have a profile picture where you are wearing a hat (baseball, sun, cowboy, etc.) of any kind (or sunglasses). You wouldn’t show up at a job interview dressed like that, so don’t portray yourself on LinkedIn that way.

Bonus tip – Do make sure your picture uses up the majority of the allowable space/sizing. Nothing is worse than that teeny tiny 2cm x 2cm square picture that is dropped in the middle of the larger spacing that you have. Utilize the space provided and make sure your profile picture pops!

There you have it, my top 10 plus bonus do’s and don’ts for your profile pic. Do yourself a favour and take 5 minutes to see if you are committing any of these faux pas. If you are, take action and correct immediately. This typically starts by getting a decent digital photo of yourself taken by someone with a little bit of photography know how.

Is there anything I have missed? Hit me up in the comments and I will add it in. Want to know if your picture is up to par? Drop me a line and I will let you know – if you can handle the truth that is. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Do you REALLY want to connect with me on LinkedIn?

Last week I blogged about a pet peeve of mine which is the canned LinkedIn connection request of, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Based on the number of views and comments I have received about this post I must have hit a nerve. I have had comments in full on support of my post and those that provided a differing point of view. I truly appreciated all the viewpoints and took the time to engage with everyone as I am always interested to learn more about user experiences with LinkedIn.

Of note, on the differing point of view side of things, some people raised a couple of valid points as to why the eleven-word canned connection request statement is used so much:

  1. If you are trying to connect with someone that isn’t a 2nd or 3rd degree connection already, it is almost impossible to have a connection request get sent any other way
  2. If you are using LinkedIn on a mobile device that is often the only way to send off a request (i.e. the issue is with LinkedIn and their app making it too ‘easy’ to do this, not the user).

LinkedIn ChocolatesWhile I can accept both those counter arguments, my personal experience with this is a bit jaded. You see, what I (used to) do is when I received invites from people I don’t know, and that contained the “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” I would not accept them at first, but would reply back. Yes – you can do that! So, I would hit the reply button and send back a quick note that would state something like, “Thanks for your connection request, I can’t remember if we have met before, if we have, could you please remind me? If we haven’t, in the spirit of connecting, I would like to know how/why you would like to connect with me?”

How often do you think I received a response back to that question? Answer – less than 1% of the time! Of those that did respond back to me, I actually received a great email back from the requestor and happily accepted the connection invitation at that point. I mean, all I was really looking for was to make sure it was a real person looking to connect with me and that they gave it 2 seconds of thought. In other words, I didn’t want to be a baseball card added to someone’s collection because at the end of the day, I value my network I have built up and I don’t feel like giving just anyone access to it…especially a spammer!

So, I guess in all this I remain a bit jaded but I am still open to hear your feedback on this. I am going to need some convincing though. My feeling is that if you send me a connection request and I email you back and you don’t respond, my question to you is, do you REALLY want to connect with me on LinkedIn…or are you just trying to collect names and/or get access to my network? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of Nan Palmero/Flickr.com

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”

Those have to be the eleven words I hate to see the most when I receive a LinkedIn request. There is absolutely no context or effort involved with these types of requests. It is simply a case of someone clicking on your profile and sending you an invitation while using the standard LinkedIn text. It also gives the impression that you are simply looking to add names to your LinkedIn database collection. Bottom line, you should always take the time to personalize a LinkedIn request.

LinkedIn company name pictureThis is true whether you are a job seeker or looking to make a sales connection. At the very least, a personalized request note is a “softer” request and lead in. Look at it this way, if you were attending an in person networking event, you wouldn’t walk up to someone you never met before and say to them, “I’d like to add you to my professional network can I have your business card?” So why do we do this on LinkedIn?

Here is the thing, you may be committing this faux pas and not even realizing it – so I am here to help! If you are in the “People You May Know” section of LinkedIn (within your account) and you click on “Connect” under the picture of any of the people there, they will automatically get that horrible 11 word request email to connect. Bam – that is it…no opportunity for you to edit the message at all and you probably aren’t even aware of what you have done.

Here is what you should do when you are looking to connect:

Click on the person’s picture/name profile so you can link to their actual profile landing page. Then you can click on the blue connect button where you have an opportunity to personalize a message. The same standard 11 word intro comes up, but NOW you have an opportunity to edit and personalize your request. My advice – take advantage of this opportunity!

So, let’s assume you have followed this advice so far and you are providing yourself an opportunity to customize your connection request. Now it is all up to you This part isn’t hard, but it does take a bit of effort. All you need to do in the request is write a few sentences on why you want to connect with the person. Do this and your LinkedIn life will change forever. For example, in your connection request you could refer to one of the following types of situations:

  • You met them at an event (this is the easiest isn’t one of all)
  • You know of them through someone else and want to connect for business reasons
  • You read an article, blog post, etc. that they wrote, it resonated with you and now you want to connect with them
  • You heard them speak at a conference or event, you enjoyed the content and would like to connect with them
  • You follow them on Twitter (or read something they shared in a LinkedIn group), they share great content, so now you want to connect with them and hopefully you can help them as well.

That’s all there is to it. Personalize the message by providing some context. Most people will accept your invite if there is a bit of a covering note/reason to the request. Hopefully these tips will help you out moving forward, especially if you are a job seeker. I would really like to see that you are doing everything in your power to improve your chances of expanding your network and finding gainful employment. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of Shekhar_Sahu/Flickr.com

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