LinkedIn is a great resource to further your career and grow your network. We’ve also reached the point where not having a profile may hurt your job search. Now more than ever, it’s important to have a profile set up and active. However, since it is a professional social network, it behaves slightly differently from the likes of Facebook and Twitter. There is also a different set of rules. Today we’ll explain some of those rules and why you shouldn’t break them.

  1. Connecting With Strangers

If you’re new to LinkedIn, you’ll notice LinkedIn sometimes you receive connection requests from people you don’t know. These people typically have something to sell, or just want to aimlessly grow their network. It’s easy to want to connect just to boost your network, but that’s not the wise move. Unless you know them in some capacity, it’s not advisable to connect with a stranger. If you think they may have a good reason to connect with them, send a message asking if they know you, or why they want to connect. Otherwise they will just clog up your feed, and do you no good. The value of your network on LinkedIn lies in the quality of those connections, not the number of connections you have.

  1. Using The Standard Connection Message

When you do decide to connect with someone, LinkedIn will auto-fill a standard message. It may be tempting just to hit ‘Send’, but it’s not in your best interest. Thousands of these cookie-cutter messages are sent to professionals on LinkedIn each day. What really stands out is if someone takes the time to write a personal message. It could be about how you met, or why you want to connect. Either way, you will set yourself apart, and it will greatly increase the likelihood that your connection is accepted.

  1. Asking For Something Immediately After Connecting

It’s an exciting time when someone accepts your connection! However, if you’re trying to ask for an introduction, or push a product, you should hold off. Asking a favor of someone immediately after connecting will likely push them away. People never like to feel used, and this holds true on LinkedIn as well. Although it’s a professional social network, it’s still important to be polite. If you’re asking for a favor, make sure you do it appropriately, or you may lose a connection.

  1. Requesting Endorsements From Your Network

Endorsements are great. They allow you to recognize someone else in your network for having an outstanding skill in a certain area. However, when these endorsements are requested, it diminishes the value. It’s impossible to distinguish a genuine one from a requested, but asking may turn away your connections. It’s also important to remember that companies do check LinkedIn. If you’re highly endorsed for a skill, they will expect you to be proficient in it. If you have to, only ask close friends and colleagues for endorsements. On a side note, endorsements changed when LinkedIn updated their UI. 

  1. Leaving Your Profile Photo Blank

This is likely the most important recommendation on the list not to do. Leaving your profile photo as the default silhouette is a big mistake. Profiles without a photo get significantly less views compared to those that have them. If you’re going to go through the effort of setting up a LinkedIn profile, do it right! Make sure you have a professional head-shot. If you need more advice on what type of photo to use, check out this guide from LinkedIn.

  1. Removing Old Jobs and Experience

Removing irrelevant work experience from a resume is the right move as time goes on. It showcases the most relevant experience and appropriate skills. However if you do this on your LinkedIn profile, people may wonder what you’re trying to hide. It’s typical to have all of your volunteer, professional, and educational experience present on LinkedIn. LinkedIn ultimately tells the story of your career, and it’d be odd to have some pieces of  the puzzle missing. Do the best you can to keep the full narrative of your career present on LinkedIn. It will help you, and a prospective hiring manager to understand your background.

  1. Waiting Until You Need a Job to Use It

Finally, one of the greatest mistakes professionals make is waiting to use LinkedIn until they’re out of a job. When you’re active on LinkedIn posting and interacting, your connections will recognize you and think of you. This can result in many opportunities coming your way. However, there is typically a short window with those opportunities. By only using LinkedIn when you’ve lost your job you not only miss out on opportunities, you also lose most of the benefits of being on LinkedIn. Don’t wait until crunch time to start utilizing your profile!

There are many more faux pas than we’ve listed here, but these are the biggest transgressions. Remember that you are on a different type of social network, and adjust your behavior accordingly. Too many users treat LinkedIn like Facebook or Twitter and it devalues their experience. Be smart on LinkedIn, and you will discover why it is the most powerful networking resource!