Lots of articles describe how to create a more marketable LinkedIn profile, how to find the right groups to join, how to choose the best profile photo... I should know, I'vewritten about that. Oh, and that. Yep, and that too.
Since most people understand the value of taking those steps, let's go deeper. To really harness the power of LinkedIn, don't make these mistakes:
1. You give only because you expect to receive.
Connect with people on LinkedIn and you can write a recommendation that gets displayed on their profiles.
That's awesome, unless you're only giving recommendations because you want one in return. Then it's tacky.
For example, say you're a plumber. A pipe burst and we call you at three in the morning. You immediately rush over, fix the leak, and save us from inadvertently converting our basement into a swimming pool. I'm extremely grateful and I write you a deservedly glowing recommendation.
Then I ask you to write a recommendation for me.
The problem is, you don't know me professionally. The only thing you really know about me is that I could be heard in the background screaming like a little girl when my wife called you. How can you recommend me? You can't. You shouldn't. And you shouldn't be asked to.
Give sincere recommendations. Recommend because you want to, not because you expect to receive a recommendation in return. The people who know and respect you may return the "favor." If so, great; if not, also great. Either way you've given credit where credit is due.
2. You don't give at all.
Great networking is based on giving, not receiving. Endorsements are an easy way to give: Go to someone's profile, click a few boxes, maybe click a few plus signs--done.
Endorse another person's skills and you not only give them a virtual pat on the back, you may also help them show up in search results.
Show other people you respect their skills. Sure, it may be a good networking move, but making other people feel good about themselves is reason enough.
3. You wait until you have a need.
If you put off making solid connections until the day you need something--customers, employees, a job, or just a better network--then you've waited too long. Think about where you someday want to be and start now to build the connections, the network, and the following that will support those goals.
Building great connections is a parallel, not a serial, task. Later is always too late. Read the Inc.com article to learn the other six mistakes.