Seven things you should never do on LinkedIn

LinkedIn might be social media, but it is also a powerful job finding tool. Make sure you are using it to its full potential!

Jeff Weiner/AP/File
LinkedIn's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. LinkedIn reports quarterly financial results on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.

How dialed in is your LinkedIn profile? As the world's most successful social business network (at last count, the site had 380 million members across more than 200 countries and territories), LinkedIn has become synonymous with online career-building. And with such a mind-boggling reach, it's worth making sure you're not locked out. Here are seven things you should never do on LinkedIn.

1. Confuse It With Facebook

The distinctions are obvious to most, but some lump all social media tools together in a bucket marked "anything goes." Don't be one of these people.

LinkedIn connections, messages, and posts should be reserved for building your professional network, joining groups of people who share your interests, expanding your career skills and knowledge, and learning about new work opportunities. Don't use it for a casual social interaction, posting office party selfies, or anything else that might turn a potential employer off.

2. Send a Standard Connection Request

If you're interested enough to make a connection on LinkedIn, take a moment to do it with a personal message. Remember, be professional and polite. If you've met, remind the person of your affiliation; if not, briefly explain your interest in connecting.

3. Pick the Wrong Pic

A great photo is an important way to get your LinkedIn profile noticed. But skip the one that includes your husband, your kids, your friends, or the family pet. Also, make sure the photo is clear, professional, and relatively recent (no vintage glamour shots, please).

4. Write Wrong

LinkedIn is a continuous online snapshot of who you are professionally. And just as there's an art to writing a great resume, there's an art to crafting great content on LinkedIn. Even though it's a social media site, grammatical errors on LinkedIn can immediately cast you in bad light. Proofread every word you write; even quick status updates and link introductions should be polished and perfect.

5. Solicit Recommendations

Soliciting recommendations from previous employers and co-workers is tricky. First of all, never overwhelm new connections with a recommendation request right away. Second, don't spam your entire network with requests. Be tactical and tactful; only reach out to those with whom you have (or have had) a strong professional relationship. And keep in mind, people are more likely to respond to requests that are simple and easy. Explain the specific skill sets you're hoping to emphasize on LinkedIn and then politely request a recommendation — once and only once.

6. Ignore Your Privacy Settings

Privacy on a professional networking site is an essential feature for obvious reasons. If you're currently employed, but actively looking for your next opportunity, you'll naturally want to maintain a certain level of discretion. If you're engaged in a job search, customize your privacy settings so your boss can't see what you're up to. You can find LinkedIn's privacy options by scrolling over the small version of your profile photo in the upper right hand of the homepage. Navigate to "Privacy & Settings" and make the necessary adjustments.

7. Be Passive

Active users make LinkedIn a vibrant community and a valuable tool. Be part of it by updating your status a couple of times each week. Updates on promotions and professional pursuits or links to events keep things fresh and gives potential employers a reason to reach out to you. Joining groups, sharing articles, and growing your network are other important ways to show you're more than just a lurker.

Today, learning to use social media effectively is a big part of professional networking basics. With some time, attention, and discipline, LinkedIn can become a powerful career-building tool… just as long as you don't post those glamour shots.

This article is from Kentin Waits of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

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