June 13, 2013

Five Steps to Protect Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn


Social media's rise in popularity has led to an entirely new way of networking, communicating and keeping track of what your coworkers and peers are doing. We often hear about the negative consequences of an inappropriate picture or post on Facebook, but what about LinkedIn? Can the social network for professionals negatively affect your image as well? Simply put, of course it can.

LinkedIn can be an incredibly valuable network and professional resource provided that you properly set up your profile and keep the platform's nuances and etiquette in mind. These five simple steps will ensure that your LinkedIn profile will work to bolster your personal brand.

1. Fully set up your profile

Many LinkedIn users will only partially fill out their LinkedIn profile, leaving vital information about you and your professional past offline. It is important to complete each section of your LinkedIn profile (meaning that you should aim to get as close to 100% in your profile progress meter as possible) and to ensure that all your information is in sync and matches what you've posted elsewhere. It's a big LinkedIn faux pas when the information on your profile doesn't match what you've submitted on your resume or in a cover letter.

2. Choose your profile picture wisely...

...and no, that doesn't mean that you should choose the one where you're on the beach in Mexico wearing a Speedo or a bikini that 70 of your friends have "Liked" on Facebook. Your LinkedIn profile picture should be a clean and professional-looking headshot of yourself and nobody else. That means no pictures of you and the girls out at a bar, no lovey-dovey boyfriend shots, no mirror selfies and so forth. However, keep in mind that an equally egregious mistake is not posting a picture at all.

3. Do not connect with each and every person

Let's make one thing clear: LinkedIn was not designed to be a networking free-for-all! Sending requests to everyone who is connected with a friend of a friend of a friend is not acceptable behavior on LinkedIn (and quite frankly isn't acceptable on any social network, but that's the subject of another blog post). Despite what you may have heard before, it's not a desirable trait to be a LION (which stands for LinkedIn Open Networker). Make sure you use discretion; when connecting on LinkedIn, be sure that you've already established some sort of relationship, either on or offline.

4. Request Introductions

With LinkedIn, you can request to request introductions from your connections for people who you do not yet know. You can send a message to a mutual friend who can then forward along your message. However, make sure your InMail is professional in tone and has clear next steps outlined, as your connection will undoubtedly act on your request and forward the message you've sent him or her to the person with whom you are trying to connect.

PRO TIP: Of course, you can also use Contactually's new introductions tool when it comes time to reciprocate introducing the people in your network.

5. Make Yourself Anonymous

Did you know that LinkedIn will let people know when you've viewed their profile and how many times you've done so? Any LinkedIn user can see who has viewed their profile, and if they don't know who you are they may find your 20 views in 2 weeks a bit disconcerting. Prevent these awkward occurrences from coming to fruition by making yourself anonymous, which prevents LinkedIn from tracking and reporting on the profiles that you view. Simply edit your settings by clicking "Select what others see when you've viewed their profile" and you can continue your LinkedIn surfing without fear of being discovered.

Do you have any other tips that you've used to master LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments, or Tweet us @Contactually.