4 LinkedIn Rules of Etiquette for Professionals

First and foremost, LinkedIn is a professional networking site. In fact, the site even declares its mission as simple:

“Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

And yet, despite this mission statement, some LinkedIn feeds occasionally feel like they belong on a social networking site. So, how can you present yourself more professionally on LinkedIn? Simple! Follow these four rules.

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Rule #1: Understand That LinkedIn is Not Facebook

From a social media angle, we have multiple options to share pictures of our meals, our children, and our life. Funny GIFs, silly videos, and jokes all have a place on social media, and that place is NOT LinkedIn.  

Go crazy on Instagram. Post the results of a quiz on the number of children you should have on Facebook. Snapchat with silly filters until your heart's content! But steer clear of LinkedIn when you want to share that sort of stuff.

As you scroll through your LinkedIn feed, you should see work-appropriate updates, job postings, and links to great content geared toward professionals. This is likely why you came to LinkedIn in the first place - to network with other professionals and make valuable business connections.

Do you have some friends in your LinkedIn connections?  Probably. Is it smart to wish them “Happy Birthday” there? No. That can be reserved for Facebook or somewhere else.

The same goes for politics - we don’t need any political arguments on yet another social networking site. Conversations on LinkedIn should remain true to the purpose of the site, and focus on career-oriented issues, free of political alignment.

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Rule #2: Know Who You’re Connecting With on LinkedIn

Who should you connect with? Well, that depends. Job hunters should connect with everyone they have ever met, because networking is the #1 way to get a new job.  If you do not have a job, then let everyone, recruiters included, know that you are looking. There is a new(ish) feature on the Dashboard of your LinkedIn Profile that you can use to let recruiters know you are open to new opportunities, and you can select what type of opportunity you’re looking for.

If you have connected with someone and they don’t respond to your private message, don’t worry. Be patient; not everyone checks their LinkedIn regularly.

If you have a recruiter spamming you with job opportunities that you’re not interested in, politely reply to let them know you’re not interested. Remain cordial and professional in order to keep the channel open, as you will never know if your paths will cross in the future.

If you are asked to connect with  someone you don’t know, check out mutual connections, shared work histories, educational backgrounds, and LinkedIn groups. If the connection request appears sketchy, don’t accept it. LinkedIn wants you to only connect with people you can trust.


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Rule #3: Keep Your LinkedIn Profile Up to Date

Remember to regularly update your profile, but try not to do it every day. Unless you’ve adjusted your privacy settings, each of your connections will get a notification that you have made a profile change, big or small. LinkedIn offers tips on how to avoid alerting everyone of a profile change.

LinkedIn also offers a cool learning tool to help expand your skills. It provides a wide variety of subjects to choose from, from Giving Your Elevator Pitch to AutoCAD Essentials and even Designing A Resume.

social networking etiquette

Rule #4: Be Kind on LinkedIn

Remember the Golden Rule, do unto others and you’d have them do unto you. If you see something cool or of interest on LinkedIn, like it. If a former colleague earns a promotion, like the announcement and tell them “Congratulations.”

Follow companies you may want to work for someday. Seek out groups that relate to your industry or field of interest. When you decide to post an article or photo, remember to be professional about it. Your employer - both current and future - may be watching!

Article written by Annie Karp.

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