- Don’t Dismiss LinkedIn as Something Only for People Who Are Looking for a New Job. The best time to build your LinkedIn profile, connect with people, and participate on LinkedIn is now — before you need it. If you find yourself suddenly unemployed and decide that now is the time to start using LinkedIn, you’re going to be playing catch up. Instead, take time to “dig your well before you’re thirsty,” as author Harvey Mackay says.
- “Set it and Forget It.” Your LinkedIn profile is a forever evolving snapshot of you. Update it regularly with new connections, status, and activity (especially within LinkedIn Groups).
- Don’t not Ignore It. Check-in on LinkedIn regularly (at least every other day if you are in an active job search mode or once a week for a passive job search). It will help if you plan on adding a new status update each time you log in.
- Don’t Be A Wallflower. LinkedIn is most effective when you actively engage with it. Seek out opportunities to connect with known thought leaders within your industry and join 3-5 related groups and then review and participate in conversations.
- Don’t Be Selfish. You will get more out of LinkedIn if you focus on how you can help others, not how they can help you. The phrase “give to get” is very powerful on LinkedIn. You can earn the respect of your peers and people of influence if you “help enough other people get what they want,” in the words of Zig Ziglar.
- Don’t Wait for Others To Find You. Use the LinkedIn search function to look for people you know and invite them to connect with you. You should aim to add 2-5 new connections each week if you are a passive job seeker, and 6-10 contacts a week if you are actively searching for a new job.
- Don’t Forget to Explore the People Your Connections Know. One of LinkedIn’s most powerful functions is the ability to connect you with people who are connections of the people you know. Follow LinkedIn’s guidelines on connecting with these folks (using InMail or requesting connections through your mutual friend) so that your account doesn’t get flagged as spam.
- Don’t Indiscriminately Try to Connect With People. LinkedIn’s strengths are the connections you make, but it’s not a race to get to 500 contacts. Have a reason for each of the people you connect with — either it’s someone you already know or a relative, or someone it would be a beneficial connection. If you don’t know someone, get to know them a bit before sending a personalized connection request. (You can do so by seeing whom you have in common — or whom they are connected to, checking out their LinkedIn summary and work history, visiting their website or blog, and seeing what Groups they belong to).
- Don’t Forget to Give Recommendations. Acknowledge and recognize the contributions of people you know by providing unsolicited, genuine Recommendations for them.
Finally, Don’t Restrict Your LinkedIn Networking to Online Only. Use LinkedIn to connect with people, but then request in-person get-togethers, when possible. Meet for coffee or lunch to catch up.