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September 21, 2011

How to Miss the Boat and Get Nothing Out of LinkedIn as a Social Media Platform

Guest Post by Karl Walinskas

LinkedIn is a rapidly growing social media platform that caters more directly to business people than do Facebook or Twitter; particularly, business-to-business (B2B) opportunities. You probably know that already. Most of those folks are looking to succeed with LinkedIn marketing and generate new leads, business, or career opportunities. What you may not know is how profoundly you can fail on LinkedIn as a super-busy entrepreneur or small business owner. It’s easy! Just follow these 10 easy steps.

1. Don’t fill in your Profile Summary section
This is critical to failure on LinkedIn. Many people want to come up in People searches, but not a maverick like you. Leave that Summary section blank since it is the primary area that the LinkedIn search, and Google for that matter, index to learn about your value. Who needs it? Anonymity rules!

2. Limit how many people can see you and contact you
People can be downright annoying, so keep your settings such that you’ll minimize contact with them. Go to your privacy controls on the Settings tab and select the most minimalizing restrictions, like turning off your activity broadcasts (you’re not doing them anyway!), making sure only you can see your activity and networks, and ensuring that you snoop other profiles incognito. Victory is yours.

3. Put your current job only
Reality says that no one is concerned about your past work history anyway, so only post your current job. Remember the KISS principle, so keep it simple and short and avoid using redundant phrases that these SEO types call ‘keywords’. By posting only one job, you won’t have to worry about having to mess around with the boring writing of keywords in your former positions either.

4. Don’t post a photo
Photos are for supermodels. As a programmer, consultant or other business pro your work speaks for itself and your face ain’t your money-maker, so screw the personal comfort level that humans since date of birth seem to feel when they see a real person’s face behind the computer lingo. This is business, not warm and fuzzy socialization!

5. Avoid References
These are faked and everybody knows it, so why bother. Who cares if LinkedIn references actually hyperlink back to the referrer for easy verification of who’s doing the talking? If I ask other business schmos for references, they’ll just want something back from me, and who has the time?

6. Be Picky About Connections
Hold your connections close to your vest and only have that handful of network contacts that you currently do business with, that way you can call on any of them with a request and not feel guilty about it. What good can a large number of contacts do for you anyway, they’ll just bug you for their little pet projects you have no interest in whatsoever. It’s not as if LinkedIn works like Google and those contacts are like backlinks that increase your search relevance to get on page 1 when your keywords are—Ouch! No keywords written into our profiles in an easy to understand manner.

7. Don’t show your work
LinkedIn offers Applications for you to post more stuff about you, supposedly to distinguish you from other professionals. The “theory” is that when people get to your profile, you stand apart by already demonstrating what you do well via slide presentations, case studies, video (ah-hem!) and the like. Balderdash! Just something else to maintain. Why put something up that only 10 or 20 people might read or look at.

8. Groups are for wussies
Subject matter interest groups abound on LinkedIn, from job search groups to industry verticals. Who has the time to listen to a few “experts” spout off about one topic or another and post links to their blogs to generate conversations. Besides, why should I share my valuable knowledge about my industry for FREE? I’m not crazy! I get paid to offer expert commentary. Damn straight!

9. Once and done it
The beauty of a LinkedIn profile or any website is that once you get it ‘live’, you are done with it forever. The more you change it the more you can mess up your search engine rankings, right? That is the perfect slogan for LinkedIn failure. Don’t you wish you thought of it? Changing stuff around takes a lot of time to boot. Post the darn thing and be done with it.

10. SPAM your contact list with mail
If you’ve got a few contacts, you can make it even fewer by making frequent request or pitches to buy your product or service or go to your website. Contacts will drop you faster than if you tried to delete them, because they’ll do it in mass, so send out a few overly smarmy emails every week and your LinkedIn failure will be complete.

The reality is, you’re not trying to fail on LinkedIn. You want to succeed as well and generate more Linkedin business leads and use LinkedIn as a bona fide marketing took for your site, but maybe you just don’t know how. If you’re like a lot of small business owners, however, and can look yourself in the mirror and see any of the Top 10 LinkedIn Failure Methods listed above in your talk or actions, perhaps it’s time to question assumptions and change your approach. It’s opposite day and this ain’t Seinfeld, so take a look at what NOT to do, and do something else and then notice your LinkedIn statistics rise and your phone start to ringing.

If you actually want to SUCCEED on LinkedIn, check out LinkedIn Profile Optimization help by Smart Company Growth, a company owned and operated by Karl Walinskas to provide unique lead generation tools to white collar professionals. He’s authored Getting Connected Through Exceptional Leadership and many, many articles published in print and online.