There are glaring mistakes that can be made using LinkedIn and the costs of making them can be painfully high. Realize that you often have only one chance to make a favorable impression. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these pitfalls so that they can be avoided—especially with new connections. In order to have an extraordinary experience on the LinkedIn platform it is essential to know what not to do as well as knowing what to do. Let’s get into the list….

Not Knowing Your Target Market

This error is surprisingly common even though LinkedIn is a “professional” network. A few explanations might include: Lack of planning, believing that it is enough to simply “post” a resume or dismissing it as an unimportant step. However, how does one craft an engaging profile for an undefined market? Imagine preparing a speech for a “mystery” audience—one you know nothing about. The consequences could be devastating and extremely embarrassing if you deliver an inappropriate or off topic speech.

Failure to Acknowledge the Actions of Your Connections

Given our busy schedules, it is easy to overlook simple courteous expressions to members of our network. Do you thank new connections for joining your network? Do you acknowledge and reciprocate to someone that has endorsed or recommended you? How long does it take to decide if you are going to accept or reject someone that is seeking to join your network? These can be missed opportunities to initiate or develop a promising connection. Create a template message page that can be utilized to message others’ actions and then personalize the message with the person’s name. Everyone likes to hear “Thank you”.

Using Resume Verbiage

Your profile should be written in the 1st person so that potential connections see you as someone that they can talk to and with whom they can grow a relationship. Think of it as a conversation with future clients. Also, a resume is mostly about what positions you held and what you did there. Clients are more interested in what benefits you offer or what solutions you can provide to them.

Bad Photo or No Photo

This mistake falls in the category of relatability. Clients want to know who they are dealing with before they will fully commit. It is a deadly error to appear unprofessional, uninvolved or unsuccessful. Present yourself in the best way possible. Hire a pro to get it done right.

Copycat Headline

Nearly 90% of the professionals on LinkedIn use a headline (the description area under your name at the top of the profile) that highlights a position or title. Doing so makes undistinguishable from others with that same title. Instead, emphasize your benefits so that your connections will know how they will profit from working with you vs. someone else. Amazingly, few use the full 120 characters that are available in the headline. It is the most important real estate on your profile since it follows you every time you post, comment or are “googled”.

Incomplete Profile

This is another common oversight. It conveys a perception that either you were too lazy to provide more details or thought it unimportant. High-value clients are going to want know your schooling, credentials and type of experiences—in detail. Lacking such information, they will seek out another professional.

No Recommendations

I think that it is wise to have at least 5 recommendations. The more specific that they are about what services or results were realized the more impressive that they will be for those that view them. How do you get them? Ask! Inform the person that is recommending you to write the recommendation using certain key words so that it helps your search engine ranking as well.

Not Using the LinkedIn Publisher Feature

LinkedIn made a remarkable change early in 2014 by extending the ability to publish “expert” articles on the platform to EVERY user. Previously, only LinkedIn Influencers could do so. These long posts (or extended blogs) become a permanent part of the profile and help to establish an expert persona. No other platform has this dynamic feature and it has become wildly popular among LinkedIn users.

Not Posting Regularly

It is simply not enough to just have a profile on LinkedIn. Social selling involves 3 stages: finding, connecting and engaging. You need to be social. Create conversations with your connections. Thank them for endorsing you or commenting on your posts. Remember, the ultimate goal for any social media campaign is to create long-lasting relationships. This takes time, shared value and trust.

Text Only

Just as you hate to be bored, so does your audience. Jazz up your profile with pictures, graphics and video. LinkedIn has become very accommodating for various forms of media over the past couple of years. A balanced profile should contain interesting content that visually tells your story as well as a descriptive narrative. Be creative and have fun in designing a unique and informative profile. Show the passion that you have for your service or product(s).

In summary, LinkedIn is an awesome platform for showcasing your skills or products. Over 100 million U.S. professionals currently use it and more are added hourly. Worldwide, an additional 250 million professionals could potentially find and connect with you. Time spent building a dynamic, vibrant and clearly focused profile will enable you to grow your influence and business ‘beyond belief”!

By Gary Kissel | LinkedIn Strategist | Speaker | Author