LinkedIn Etiquette: 14 Tips You Must Know

online networking linkedin etiquetteI recently received an unusual message on LinkedIn. Let’s just say it was the kind of message you expect from, not LinkedIn. It made me uncomfortable, so I promptly removed that person as a connection.

Every social media network is different and has its own unwritten rules. It may not be black or white, but with experience, you get a sense of what’s right and what’s not. Sometimes, it doesn’t become obvious, especially with a professional network like LinkedIn.

Clients often ask questions about LinkedIn like “If people endorse or recommend me, should I endorse or recommend them back?” and “A competitor sent me a connect request. Should I accept?”

For endorsements and recommendations, you can simply thank them. Only endorse and recommend if you know them and would be comfortable with everyone seeing what you said on their profile.

As for competitor connection requests, you can accept it if you think their network would be useful to you. On the other hand, if you’re worried about them connecting with your clients, you may not want to connect with your competitor.

You can manage your LinkedIn Profile privacy controls to dictate what the public and your connections see in your profile. It’s also possible to control what your public LinkedIn profile displays.

Here are 14 rules to help you remain professional on LinkedIn.

1. Avoid using the default connect request.

When sending a connection request, personalize it by letting people know who you are, how they met you, and why you want to connect. Be careful sending connect requests from the LinkedIn mobile app because it typically doesn’t allow you to include a customized message. This can also happen on the website on the “People You May Know Page.” For these, click the person’s photo or name instead of “Connect.”

2. Skip clicking “I don’t know” or “spam” for connection requests.

Not even when you’re contacted by someone you don’t know. Either ignore it or click “Ignore.” Clicking “I don’t know” or “spam” can hurt the person’s account. It’s better to leave it alone.

3. Limit status updates to one or two a day.

This prevents you from dominating someone’s LinkedIn news stream. People want to see updates from a variety of people, not the same person repeatedly.

4. Share useful news.

When posting news, think business news or information of value. Personal news doesn’t go over well on a professional network like LinkedIn.

5. Post appropriate photos and graphics.

Posting photos, images and graphics can increase engagement. Just remember to keep it professional. While there’s nothing wrong with cute cats making mischief, these cutesy photos aren’t appreciated on LinkedIn as they are on Facebook or Instagram.

6. Skip the hashtags.

LinkedIn doesn’t convert hashtags into clickable links. Because of this, it looks like you’re reposting a Tweet.

7. Write recommendations when it’s appropriate.

If someone recommends you, it is polite to recommend them back. However, don’t do it unless you are comfortable having other people view your recommendation on that person’s profile.

8. Respond to endorsements as you see fit.

You do not need to endorse people back if they endorse you. Instead, you can send a quick thank you message.

9. Shun asking for endorsements.

And especially don’t endorse someone and then send a message saying you endorsed them and ask them to endorse back. A better way to get endorsements is to endorse others as appropriate. Many will return the favor.

online networking etiquette10. Ask for recommendations from people who can recommend you.

Don’t ask for recommendations from strangers or casual acquaintances. The people you ask should be familiar with some aspect of your work.

You’re more likely to get a good recommendation if you draft one for them, and let them edit. You can bring out the aspects of your work you most want them to mention, and quote stats if you have them. Just say “I was hoping you would be comfortable saying something like this…”

11. Ignore recommendations and endorsements from strangers.

If people you don’t know ask for recommendations or endorsements, you don’t need to get back to them. Just ignore their request.

12. Manage your recommendations and endorsements.

Remember, you can choose which recommendations and endorsements appear on your public profile. If you accept an endorsement or recommendation, you don’t have to show it.

13. Disconnect from people who make you uncomfortable.

If someone spams you repeatedly, hits on you, or sends other inappropriate messages, disconnect from them. If their message is particularly abusive or illegal, report them. Don’t feel pressured to respond to an off-topic request. For example, someone said I was perfect for a job for which I had no experience.

14. Provide value in LinkedIn Groups.

Unless a LinkedIn Group says it’s OK to post self-serving content, don’t do it. Focus on providing responses that add value. People are more likely to contact you when they see you share your expertise and do it in a positive way.

Ensure your posts are always positive, even those that express disagreement. It’s fine to disagree, but not when it comes across as critical or negative.

Focus on building relationships and providing value with the people you want to connect. It will pay off.

What LinkedIn etiquette would you add or change? Or have an experience to share? Share it in the comments.



Your 10-Step LinkedIn Daily Action Plan

linkedin daily checkHabits help us do the same thing every day without fail. Waking up, brushing teeth, showering, exercising and so on. It’d be worth adding LinkedIn to the list because it helps grow your business. I know – it’s just another thing you don’t have time for, right? Start small. Try it once a week, then twice until you reach a comfortable pace.

The results might surprise you that you’ll be compelled to do it four or five times a week. If once or twice a week works better, then you can do most of these for longer stretches. The only exception is birthday wishes as you’ll want to send those on the person’s birthday, or close to it.

Here’s your 10-step LinkedIn Daily Action Plan.

1. Check Inbox for messages.

- Respond to inquiries.
- Set reminders for follow-ups.

2. Do follow-ups.

- When someone tells you about a project or big event, follow-up to see how it went.
- After meeting someone at an event, send a resource or something of value.

3. Accept new connections.

- Tag the connections you’ve accepted. Suggestions:

  • Where you met the person. Event, company, party, trade show, social media, etc.
  • How did you meet? In-person, online, phone, etc.
  • Type of relationship: Customer, prospect, group member, coworker, vendor, friend, relative, fellow alumni and so on.
  • Strength of relationship on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being weakest and 5 is strongest.
  • What do you want to do with the person? Meet in person, build relationship, maintain relationship, grow relationship, reconnect, etc.
  • Location.
  • Industry.

- Send a personalized welcome message to new connections. (When you accept someone else’s connection and vice versa.) Suggestions:

  • Briefly describe what you do for clients.
  • Mention your email list, why it’s valuable and how to subscribe.
  • Send a link to download a free guide or resource of value.

4. Check Keep in Touch or daily email from LinkedIn Updates.

- Send birthday wishes.
- Congratulate on promotions, job changes and news. (Verify the dates because sometimes it looks new when it isn’t.)
- Traveling? Find contacts in the area where you’ll be to see if they want to meet.
- Share an interesting resource.

5. Post a status update on your home page. Suggestions:

- Interesting articles along with a short comment.
- Inspirational quote.
- Tip based on your expertise.
- Statistics.
- Powerful, professional images.

6. Check your notifications.

- Respond to comments on your blog posts, group posts and status updates.
- Send connect requests to people who engage with your content.

7. Send five to 10 connect requests to people who fit your criteria.

- Check your saved searches.
- Run new searches.

8. Check one or two groups.

- Comment on discussions.
- Answer questions.
- Share content relevant to the group and write a question to use as the title.

9. Check your activity feed.

- Review news.
- Read updates.
- Like or comment on info shared by people you want to nurture.
- Share anything interesting related to the update.

10. Filter a tagged list in Keep in Touch.

- Open the profile page of anyone you want to nurture to endorse them for one skill.
- Send a message.

Try it and let us know how it works for you. What suggestions do you have for this list?



Great LinkedIn Profile Examples for Sales VPs

vp sales linkedin profile examplesVP Sales LinkedIn profiles vary from detailed with most fields filled in to an almost empty one. Many sales teams, especially those in B2B, find great value in LinkedIn for forging new relationships and reinforcing existing ones.

Any VP of sales who wants to stay in the spotlight and represent the company brand can do it by completing the profile from head to toe beginning with the summary and ending with following others.

I browsed LinkedIn looking at a diversity of VP sales profiles for inspiration. Some may not be as complete as it could be yet it’ll give you ideas to apply to your own. You can get more tips to flesh out your profile from LinkedIn for Sales VPs.

Before you go on the profile tour, note that you may not have access to all of them. It depends on your membership account and your connection to the person. If you can’t find one of these people, go to Google and search on their name. Find the link to their LinkedIn profile and click through from there.

Marcy Campbell
Senior VP sales, Engine Yard

The summary highlights Campbell’s 20 years of experience in managing sales and marketing teams.  Her detailed experience section summarizes each past position in one paragraph. She lists publications and personal interests. Reading the crisp profile, you can get a sense of her background and specialty without being bogged by details.

David Cassady
Executive VP global sales, Greenlight Technologies (Summary says why he’s on LinkedIn)

I like Cassady’s first person summary, which closes with the reason he uses LinkedIn. He also covers this under the advice for contacting him. We all know LinkedIn serves a greater purpose than helping people find and fill jobs. The summary and advice for contacting a person are the best places to state what you’re looking for from people on LinkedIn. Consider including a call to action.

Mike Chasteen
VP sales and marketing, Lanvera

Chasteen has a well-rounded profile with a one-paragraph summary giving the highlights of his career: “25+ years experience as an evangelist, strategist and teacher. Leading great sales teams as small as 5 and as large as 200. Successfully manages P&L’s, and drives attainment hitting revenue goals as high as $300M. Empowering good sales people to become great sales people leveraging traditional and non-traditional methodologies. Soon to be author of ‘Peeling Back the Onion’ a sales manager’s handbook.”

Greg Christian
VP of worldwide sales and marketing, Kubisys

Christian’s profile contains everything. He belongs to more than 25 groups and he follows influencers, news and companies. He has recommendations from people who reported to him, worked with him or worked at another company.

A strong VP sales profile has recommendations from direct reports, CEOs, clients and partners. Also try to have at least two from your current position.

Lori Harmon
VP Sales, Contrast Security

This profile has a nice  header image, promoting her book and her LinkedIn group. Her summary reveals facts related to data breaches and answers: “What if you could …” with a list that communicates the end result of what her company does for clients.

She also takes advantage of LinkedIn’s media capabilities by including a video and slides. Harmon’s advice for contacting her includes her contact information, Twitter ID and links to a calendar so you can schedule a 15-minute call with her.

Dave Kent
VP director channel sales, Geocent

Dating back to 2002, Kent’s last five positions have recommendations. He has received more than 30 recommendations. The last one — as of this writing — is from 2010. It would boost his profile to have a more recommendation in his current position. Nonetheless, this is an exemplary profile.

More Inspiration

Kevin Kirksey
VP sales at Exinda Networks

Steve Milner
VP US enterprise sales, Rackspace

Mike Minelli
Former: Senior VP of sales, IntelliResponse Systems Inc; currently Global Sales Leader

Mike Montrose
VP marketing and sales, UniteU Technologies

Dennis O’Leary
VP sales, east, SteelGlass Consulting

Greg Petraetis
Global VP, big data, SAP

Jack Steeg
VP of business development, Ringdale Technologies, Inc

Robert Wilson
VP global sales, EMC

What makes an effective VP sales LinkedIn profile? Please share a profile or two or describe what you’ve seen that has inspired you.



How to Introduce Yourself on LinkedIn

linkedin introduce yourselfNeed tips for introducing yourself to interesting people you find on LinkedIn?

Even the person with good intentions who focuses on building relationships struggles to come up with an introduction strategy for LinkedIn that doesn’t sound contrived. Of course, we all want to land new business. However, all of our prospects know this when they get a LinkedIn message. They go on high alert ready to sniff out a sales message.

You can ease that and make a good first impression with the right introduction strategy. One caveat … LinkedIn prefers that you connect with people you know, so here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, if you send connection requests to the unacquainted, they can report to LinkedIn that either they don’t know you or that your message is spam. LinkedIn tracks these. If a person receives enough reports, then LinkedIn throttles the account. This means you will have to enter an email address in future invitations.

Second, customize your message by explaining why you’re requesting a connection, what you have to offer and what you’d like them to do. Think personalized and short. You get 300 characters, but the first 75 are the most important. Focus on building the relationship and being a useful resource.

The hard part about making an introduction is the opener. Once you get past that, you can then offer to help in some way that doesn’t cost anything or indicates you expect something in return.

For example, a person who works for a managed services provider can say, “If you ever need expert advice before you make a technology investment, I’d be happy to act as a sounding board for you.” Come up with a few sentences like this to use with different audiences.

So what about the opener? The following 6 strategies will help avoid introduction awkwardness.

1. Share a common connection

In browsing LinkedIn, you may discover you share a common connection with the person you wish to contact. Use that connection as a way to introduce yourself.

“I was checking in on LinkedIn when I noticed you know John Doe. He and I worked together when we were at ABC Company. Since we both know John, I thought I’d introduce myself and see if you’d like to connect.”

“I was checking in on LinkedIn when I noticed you and I know John Doe. He did some great work for my software company. Since we both know him, I thought I’d introduce myself and see if you’d like to connect.”

2. Respond to a group post

Another way to meet people is through LinkedIn groups. Watch the discussions for an opportunity to introduce yourself. If someone shared a valuable resource or posted a great tip, use it in your introduction.

“Just read your great tip on how to optimize a LinkedIn profile. I followed your advice for improving the summary. Thanks for the tip. Since we share a common interest in [topic of group], I thought I’d introduce myself and see if you’d like to connect.”

3. Mention a press release or news story

If you’re watching a company that may be a potential client, you might look to see if it has any recent press releases or mentions in a news story. Or create an alert to notify you whenever the company’s name is mentioned. Since press releases often contain news, they should give you a good opener to introduce yourself.

Begin by talking about the press release. And then introduce yourself with a quick and understandable description of what you do.

“I saw in the news that your company is moving into my neighborhood. Welcome! I hope you like it here as much as I do. Since we’re neighbors, I thought I’d introduce myself and ask if you would like to connect.”

“I read in today’s paper that your company is moving to a new office. I have some IT strategies that could cut the cost of setting up a network. Would you like me to share them with you?”

4. Follow up on a profile visit

Most people on LinkedIn know that we can find out who visited our profiles, which provides another good source for an opening.

“I notice that you viewed my profile. Were you looking for something specific? Maybe I can help you or point the way. While we’re at it, would you like to connect?”

5. Refer to a comment in social media

Maybe a tweet catches your eye. You looked up the person’s Twitter profile and would be interested in connecting. You can either send a message asking the person to connect in LinkedIn or send a LinkedIn request with a customized message.

“Caught your tweet about selecting the right MSP and looked you up. It looks like you are working on some interesting projects. Would you be interested in connecting?”

6. Comment on LinkedIn or website blog post

Who doesn’t love getting an intelligent comment on a blog post? A good way to connect with someone is to do just that. It’s also an opportune time to take it further with a personal introduction. Mention the blog post and why you found it valuable. Then go on to explain that because you liked what the person had to say, you’d like to connect.

“Read your blog post about writing a LinkedIn profile in first or third person. Because of your advice, I switched my summary to first person. I checked out a couple more of your posts and would like to connect with you because I like your insights. Would you be interesting in connecting?”

After accepting your connection request, be sure to tag the person or make notes on their profile. Tagging helps segment your connections. In your notes, you may mention where you found the person and why you decided to connect. Remember no one can see your notes.

Once you’ve connected, try to follow up and stay in touch. Need help? Here are 6 ways to keep in touch on LinkedIn.

What introduction strategy do you use on LinkedIn? 



Great LinkedIn Profile Examples for Marketing VPs and CMOs

marketing vp cmo linkedin profile examplesDo you save good examples of marketing to help you get ideas? I know I do.

So to save you some time as you are working on your LinkedIn profile, here are some excellent examples of profiles for marketing VPs. Granted, they’re not all flawless, but they will give you solid ideas on how to improve your own.

If you find that you can’t view some of the profiles, it’s not a technical issue. LinkedIn only allows those with basic memberships to view first- and second-degree connections. If you can’t view one of these listed below, go to Google and search on the person’s name. Even if that person is not in your network, you should be able to view their profile.

Rick Glew
Vice president of marketing and operations, TangoTab

Glew’s summary contains something too few of us include in our LinkedIn profile: a portfolio of his marketing and business development work. This is a great idea and example for those with a marketing portfolio.

David Goldstein
Executive vice president, Bottle Rocket

What’s unusual about Goldstein’s profile is the inclusion of a patent. If you have one, be sure to include it. It impresses people when they see a patent because they know it takes work to invent something and follow through with filing a patent.

Janet Johnson
Strategic Marketing Consultant, O’Johnson Partners

You can get a feel for Johnson’s personality just by reading her summary. Here’s a taste: “I’ve been fortunate to have held key marketing positions with top technology companies including Apple, Enron (yes, I have stories; no, not the ones you might think) …” This matches the personality in her photo.

Margaret Pacheco
SVP and COO, Idea Groove

Pacheco takes advantage of LinkedIn’s new profile header for Premium members. Seeing the header, the first thing I thought was “ideas.” Sure enough she works for Idea Groove. Her profile has everything: She’s connected to more than 500 people, belongs to more than 30 groups and follows influencers, companies, news, and a school.

Ted Rubin
The Rubin Organization

The first paragraph of Rubin’s summary tells you about his current work and mentions his book. He follows that with highlights of his online background past beginning in 1997. Because his focus is return on relationships, he closes with facts that show he walks the ROR talk. Rubin’s profile is filled with posts, videos and a link to buy his book.

And here are a few more for added inspiration. Notice that some have advisory and board of director positions that might be useful to you. A couple even have recommendations for those positions.

Gene Cornfield

Louis Columbus
Vice president marketing, iBASEt

Joe Dahleen
Senior vice president, Primary Capital Mortgage

Victoria Harres

Julie Porter
Chief rocker, Front Porch Marketing

What makes a strong CMO or marketing VP LinkedIn profile? Please tell us about a memorable profile or two.



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    I have been running a marketing and PR firm since 1994. I love marketing and I love helping people grow their businesses. This blog lets me share what I've learned about marketing to help you generate more leads and sales for your company.
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