5 changes you need to make


LinkedIn is by far the most beneficial social networking tool available to job seekers and professionals today. Far.

So why is it that so many of us stink at the LinkedIn label?

It’s true, guys. We stink of it.

We send lazy generic login requests. We ask for recommendations from people we barely know. We’re ambushing people, ask for favors before we’ve ever spent even two seconds of time building relationships. We distribute our Tweets through our LinkedIn feeds, even though half of the people on LinkedIn care less about Twitter.

Want to use LinkedIn to your massive networking advantage? Then you need to start working strategically and thoughtfully. And before you even think about logging in next time, there are a few basic rules of etiquette that you need to understand.

1. Generic requests are for suction cups

I’m going to assume that you are using caution in selecting the people you are going to invite to your LinkedIn network (you should). Why then, do you send them this note: “Debbie indicated that you are a friend?”

This generic invitation is a huge is for the majority of LinkedIn users, especially those who get dozens of requests every week, or who don’t really know who you are or why you’re trying to sign in. (Done: I ignore every generic connection request I get.)

You absolutely need to send a personalized note to each person you want to connect with, telling them who you are and why you are inviting them to connect. Of course, some of these people are your buddies and they will know you right away. But in each case you invite a professional (or relatively unknown) contact? You should introduce yourself and describe your goals and intentions.

2. When asking for a recommendation, be specific (and know the person)

Obviously, LinkedIn recommendations can be hugely beneficial. Third-party approvals are gold when looking for a job, especially when they come from customers, supervisors, or top professionals. So, don’t waste this opportunity by sending a vague or reckless request for the recommendation (and certainly don’t ask people you barely know for an approval).

A great demand will let the person know why you are approaching, what exactly you are looking for and what you intend to use the recommendation for. Example:

Hi Susan, I am currently looking for a new project management opportunity and wanted to ask if you would be willing to provide a recommendation outlining your experience working with me. Specifically, I look at positions that require an ability to see the big picture and then pull together resources to ensure a project is completed on time and on budget.

If you could talk about my skills in managing both “big picture” projects and critical details, I would be very grateful. “

It’s also a good idea to email the person directly before sending the LinkedIn recommendation request. This ensures that no one feels ambushed or obligated.

3. Avoid default text like the plague

LinkedIn has some very nifty templates and default text, which makes it so easy to do things like request a presentation from someone’s contact. Do not do that. Just like you’re not going to send a generic connection request, you absolutely can’t use LinkedIn’s default text to communicate with business contacts. Make it personal. Make it specific. Make it clear that you are not the laziest person in the world.

4. Stop linking your tweets to your LinkedIn feed

I don’t care about simplicity HootSuite and TweetDeck do this so that you integrate your Twitter feed into your LinkedIn status updates. Resist the urge. You’re dealing with two entirely different audiences, with different personalities, writing styles, and jargon.

Twitter is like a summer cocktail. In all likelihood, few people will bat an eye if you get drunk and fall into the pool. LinkedIn is the mixer that tracks your big business conference. You can surely be conversational in your LinkedIn updates. You just can’t get drunk and fall into the pool. Big difference – and good reason not to integrate the two.

5. Review spelling and grammar as your life depended on it

I am continually entertained and horrified by botched mistakes that come to me in LinkedIn requests. Want to make a good connection or get a favor, introduction or recommendation? Spell well. Mark yourself from the start as an intelligent, articulate and precise human being.

When it comes to LinkedIn, stop stinking, start thinking. And use these rulers as a compass.

This article was originally published on The daily muse. To learn more about using social media in your professional life, see:

Jenny Foss operates a Portland, OR based recruitment firm, Recruitment group by scale, and is the creator of the blog JobJennyYour job search best friend and expert in love to find career passion, Jenny recently wrote her first eBook, Who it may concern: or how to stop sucking during your job search. You can also find Jenny on Twitter @JobJenny.

Photo courtesy of smi23le.

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