LinkedIn don’ts

The relentlessly helpful® blog by John Espirian

30 July 2021
LinkedIn don'ts

A recent discussion on Clubhouse with #FridayShout member Wanita Z led me to post some “don’ts” about LinkedIn. To contribute to that post, see here.

The responses in the comments were enough to suggest that this topic warranted a blog post, so here are lots of craptacular actions to AVOID on LinkedIn.


❌ Salesy posts and DMs.

Sure, state what value your product or service offers in occasional posts. But pushing salesy stuff down people’s throats in public or private is not the path to building trust.


❌ Self-promotional posts.

Telling the world how great you are isn’t a good look. Sharing powerful and relevant client testimonials can work but use this approach sparingly.


❌ Post for attention.

Anything that is based around “look at me” is probably not delivering any value.


❌ Post low-value clickbait.

If the body of your post doesn’t fulfil the promise offered by the first few lines, it’s clickbait. No one has time for that.


❌ Write your About statement in the third person.

If you’re The Rock, it’s fine; otherwise, no.


❌ Use automated tools.

LinkedIn seems to hate the use of automated tools. Be careful as you might get yourself banned.


❌ Create duplicate profiles.

The rules say that you’re allowed to have only one LinkedIn personal profile. You can set up multiple company pages, though.


❌ Troll or attack people instead of questioning ideas.

Robust debate about ideas is great. Don’t attack the individuals in the discussion, though.


❌ Connect with anyone and everyone.

Being a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) means that your network is made up of all sorts of people instead of being a curated group of supporters and clients. Which would you prefer?


❌ Build your network too quickly.

Racing to connect with 100 people per week (the current limit for outbound invitations) means you don’t get the time to learn anything meaningful about each person in your network.


❌ Skip reading profiles before connecting.

Why would you connect with someone before attempting to learn something about them?


❌ Send empty or automated invitations.

This is like putting your business card in someone’s hand without first introducing yourself. 70%+ of invitations I receive are like this. Not good.


❌ Stay silent in DMs after connecting.

No one expects you to be best friends and of course we’re all busy – but at least make an effort to exchange messages with new connections. I love using voice notes for this, to help personalise my communications.


❌ Make sexual advances in DMs.

Anyone who needs this message isn’t reading this blog.


❌ Like or share posts only instead of commenting.

Engaging on posts is a valuable way to help that content spread through the network, but liking and sharing alone aren’t enough. The best accelerant for content visibility is substantial comments. Write more of them to help others succeed and to give a platform to your thoughts.


❌ Leave short “great post!” comments.

Short, low-value comments aren’t worth your time. You might as well just hit the like button. Write a couple of sentences that truly contribute to the post or don’t bother.


❌ Get hung up on engagement stats.

Posts with lots of views, likes and comments don’t necessarily generate business. Posts with very few of these engagement measures could generate a lot of business. Generally speaking, more engagement is a good thing, but likes alone don’t pay the bills.


❌ Mindlessly scroll your feed.

Use your time intentionally. You’ve probably got better things to do than scroll social media.


❌ Join engagement pods.

These are unholy alliances where people agree to engage on each other’s (usually terrible) posts, so as to boost the visibility of their content. It’s against the rules and I don’t think it’s a valuable use of your time.


❌ Ask for endorsements and recommendations too quickly.

Only ask for these when the other person can really vouch for you. Otherwise, they’re meaningless.


❌ Lack clarity in your headline and About statement.

Your content tells but your profile sells. If you’re not clear about your value proposition in an interesting, informative and intriguing way, you’re leaving money on the table. If that sounds familiar, my book Content DNA might be for you.


❌ Call yourself an expert 5 mins after you arrive.

Fair enough if you’re an expert from a different field and have just rocked up on LinkedIn. But if you’re trying to claim LinkedIn expertise when you’re relatively new, you’d better have some compelling proof.


❌ Create videos without captions.

More than 80% of social video is watched with the sound off, so captioned content is essential for reaching your video audience. It’s great for accessibility, too. Here are some video captioning tips.


❌ Include external links in all your posts.

Links in posts are fine if used sparingly but don’t expect your audience to be happy if lots of your posts are pointing them away from LinkedIn. Serve them where they are.


❌ Fill posts with hashtags and mentions/tags.

Hashtags aren’t great for readability. Use only a few per post and leave them for the end. Using @ mentions to tag others should be done sparingly. No one wants to be part of a tag wall.


❌ Steal or reuse content without attribution.

Thanks for the suggestion, Ralph Birnbaum! Reading other people’s content and taking inspiration is fine. But outright pinching of other people’s content isn’t cool.


❌ Make pithy inspirational quote posts.

Think about delivering something of value. Inspirational quotes can make people think but you’re probably just repeating something that’s been done a million times before. Tell us what you think, not what some other guru said.


❌ Post and ghost with a scheduling tool.

Engagement is essential if your content is going to succeed. Posting and then not showing up to reply to comments is bad practice. This is all too common when people use a “set and forget” scheduling tool to pump out their content. Try posting less and engaging more.


❌ Ask to hop immediately on a Zoom call.

Don’t assume that new connections will be available to drop everything and do a video call with you. When someone wants 1-to-1 time with me, I often point them to my consultation page. It’s a great way to dodge timewasters.


❌ Pointless or poorly constructed polls.

LinkedIn polls tend to get good visibility, which has led to people posting a glut of them. I don’t have anything against meaningful polls, but many of the ones I see have very little value or relevance. “Do you like tea or coffee?” I mean … who cares? Even when the question is more meaningful, the set of answers often isn’t clear or the options overlap so that respondents can’t provide a proper answer. Coming up with a good question and a good set of answers isn’t easy. Think before you create your next one.


❌ Co-opt people into group DMs.

Always ask before adding someone to a group chat or assuming that they’re ready for an introduction to someone in your network. It’s polite to ask before handing people an unexpected communications task.

Let’s wrap up.

Think like the human you are and remember that you’re building your LinkedIn presence to demonstrate skills, experience and personality to those you most seek to influence. If you keep that in mind, you should naturally avoid most of the crappy practices above.

If you want to do more of what works, check out the rest of my LinkedIn Learner Lounge content.

And if you want my very best thinking on how to win at LinkedIn, take my LinkedIn course, the LinkedIn Leaders Playbook.


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John Espirian

I’m the relentlessly helpful®️ LinkedIn nerd and author of Content DNA

I teach business owners how to be noticed, remembered and preferred.

Espresso+ is a safe space to learn how to ethically promote your business online and get better results on LinkedIn.

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