linkedin mistakesA prospect emailed me inquiring about my services. Promptly, I went to his company website to learn about their software product. Next, I checked out the About page to meet the people behind the company. It was a general description of the company. No names. No photos. Nothing.

So I did a search on the person who contacted me. The first item that showed up was his LinkedIn profile. His profile had his company’s logo, I clicked that to be taken to the company’s LinkedIn page. Bare bones. And only two of its employees were on LinkedIn.

After the initial search, I didn’t have a good feeling about this prospect.

It’s hard enough to obtain new leads. The last thing you want to do is for them to move on to someone else because your LinkedIn profile didn’t deliver.

LinkedIn ranks high in search results. Your profile as well as your company’s can affect whether others do business with you. A simple thing like having no photo could mean the difference between reading your profile and skipping it.

Don’t make these seven mistakes that are easily avoidable.

1. Don’t skip the professional photo.

One of the first things you want to on LinkedIn is to upload a good quality photo. People tend bypass profiles without one. If you don’t have a good one, try to find an older one that will suffice until you get a new one posted. If necessary, find a group photo that you can crop. Ensure the cropped image doesn’t show someone else’s hair or shoulder.

Eschew photos that show you having a good time. These don’t go over well on a professional network like LinkedIn. What may be OK to post on Facebook doesn’t always pass muster on LinkedIn.

Go to a professional photographer for a headshot with a blank background. This ensures nothing distracts from your headshot. If it’s a matter of time and cost, a mall photographer will work. It’s easy to get in with them and they’re more affordable. Some accept walk-ins. Here are more tips to improve your LinkedIn profile photo.

2. Don’t do unusual things with your name.

Some people enter their name in all upper case or all lower case. Some people use a company name on an individual profile. These compel people to click away. I’ve noticed that users who do any of these often appear lower on LinkedIn’s search results pages. I’ve run a few test searches and not one of these appeared within the first 15 pages.

Also avoid using symbols as some view them as spammy. Just enter your standard name with proper capitalization.

3. Don’t let your LinkedIn profile gather dust.

Outdated profiles list previous jobs as the current one. Some are even two or three jobs out of date. Whenever you change companies, jobs, or positions within the same company, make it a priority to update your LinkedIn profile.

You also want to refresh it when you win awards or accolades, volunteer with a nonprofit organization (it makes you look good because it shows you care), complete any type of education or certification, and get quoted in a publication (demonstrates expertise).

4. Don’t post improper updates.

Just like with photos, what you say in Facebook or Twitter may have no place in LinkedIn. This isn’t the place to discuss your favorite TV shows, post political commentary, or share religious beliefs. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t say it in a business meeting, you shouldn’t say it on LinkedIn.

High quality status updates share relevant professional information that add value. It’s not a rant about a rude customer service rep or what was for lunch. You can share inspirational quotes and office-appropriate humor. When in doubt, leave it out.

5. Don’t talk about yourself and your company all the time.

Ever get stuck in a conversation with someone who goes on and on about himself and his company? What did you think? Most likely, you wanted to leave the conversation. Avoid pouring self-serving information in status updates, LinkedIn Group posts, and blog posts. Work to be a valued resource instead of a walking advertisement.

6. Don’t neglect LinkedIn.

You’re too busy with your work and your personal life. That’s understandable. Many can relate. You don’t have to spend hours each day. You can do a lot of the 10-step LinkedIn Daily Action Plan in one hour each week. Start small. Schedule 30 minutes one day a week. Up it to an hour or two 30-minute sessions.

7. Don’t do the hard sell.

I’ve noticed an unhealthy trend on LinkedIn: spammy sales email messages. While anyone can send the hard-sell LinkedIn email, it usually gets deleted fast. Instead of trying to always be closing, work to build the relationship on LinkedIn. Ask yourself how you can add value to the person you’re contacting. How would you feel receiving the same message?

For more insights on what to do or not do on LinkedIn, you might like these 14 tips you must know about LinkedIn etiquette.

Don’t let a single opportunity go to your competitors because of these LinkedIn profile problems. They’re easy to fix and most take only a few minutes of your time.

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