Linked-In has established itself, for better or worse, as the career builder among social media outlets. However, many people, especially college students or recent graduates, make the mistake of using Linked-In the they use Facebook. In reality, the two have very different purposes, and what is acceptable on one is not necessarily appropriate on the other.
While both platforms fall into the category of “social networking,” LinkedIn should exclusively be used to build your professional reputation. Please consider the following tips when using LinkedIn:
- Instead of focusing on how many “friends” one can acquire on platforms like Facebook, Linked-In users should focus on the quality and impact of their connections. It’s not about reconnecting with former classmates or sharing photos of your children.
- If you post a photo, make sure it is a professional looking headshot. Don’t post photos of pets or children or of yourself in a bathing suit or at a party.
- Keep your updates professional. For example, share news about your industry or updates about projects you’re working on. It’s not about sharing 10 status updates every day about what you ate for lunch.
- If you want to connect with someone who is in your industry but who you don’t personally know, write a message first introducing yourself. For example, I have used Linked-In to connect with freelance writers in my geographical area to discuss potential work.
- Don’t ask someone for a reference unless they have first-hand knowledge of your work and skills. Being someone’s neighbor, former student or friend of the family does not, by itself, qualify them to endorse your work. It’s not a character reference.