Top Mistakes Executives Make With LinkedIn

Authored by one of the Senior Writers at

LinkedIn is quite possibly the best social networking tool for executives - it enables you to simultaneously promote your personal brand, develop new networks, re-connect with old network resources, and either sell services or locate new work, including contracts and jobs. But much like the three-martini lunch, when used incorrectly LinkedIn can be a dangerous implement.

Here are some key misuses or mistakes that can negatively affect the performance of your LinkedIn profile:

Incomplete Information

Two of the most important parts of the LinkedIn profile are the Employment and Education sections, and yet executives often provide minimal information in these areas. Much like on resumes, it’s vital to provide a detailed description of each position you’ve held, with special emphasis on accomplishments for the Employment section. You have 2,000 characters to work with. Don’t be stingy. While your resume is often limited to two or three pages at the most, you don’t have a page limit on LinkedIn. Now is the time to really make sure your accomplishments are highlighted. And in the Education section, don’t forget to include your degree title and major. Too often we see these areas only partially filled out.

Poor Headlines

The Headline is the first thing people will see when they search for you, so make sure it brands you effectively. This is not the place for a job title or company name. This is where you need to have a single-sentence marketing statement that effectively describes you to everyone who comes to your page.

No Recommendations

LinkedIn suggests that you have at least three recommendations. This is important for two reasons. First, there are a lot of fake profiles on LinkedIn. Having verifiable recommendations is a good way to demonstrate your profile is real. Second, it shows that you have interacted successfully with others within, and outside of, your industry. These recommendations are just like having letters of recommendation with you when you go into an interview, or having customer testimonials on your corporate website. It’s like having free marketing. Why waste the opportunity?

An Unprofessional Photo

Better you have no photo at all than you have one of you wearing a baseball hat or a bathing suit or that funky Hawaiian shirt from your last vacation. Being on LinkedIn is like having a pre-interview or business meeting posted on the web at all times. Your photo should represent you the way you want potential customers or employers to see you.

No Connections

Much like having no recommendations, having no Connections shows that you’ve either been lazy or ineffectual at ‘linking’ with others. Also, the more connections you have, the more often you’ll come up in searches, and so the more often people will be able to find you.

Not Using LinkedIn to its Potential

There are other important aspects of LinkedIn that help you promote yourself with maximum efficiency. Making sure you have a good sampling of keywords in your Summary. Personalizing your LinkedIn URL. Maintaining a business-related “what are you working on” section. And making sure you list your business-related websites.

LinkedIn is a great tool, but like all tools, it’s not going to work for you if you don’t know how to use it.