I recently received an unusual message on LinkedIn. Let’s just say it was the kind of message you expect from Match.com, 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.
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.
You can request an archive of your LinkedIn data for free regardless of your membership level. Why do that? Those in professions with regulations might need the information for an audit or to confirm compliance. For most, it means having access to insights about your activity, connections and profile.
For example, you can see the number of endorsements you’ve received, how many times you’ve searched LinkedIn and what ads you’ve clicked on based on what LinkedIn knows about you in the Ad Targeting.csv file.
Learnings from looking at my LinkedIn data
The Connections.csv file lists all your first degree connections along with their email addresses, current company and current position. Having this in a spreadsheet can prove useful for your marketing and sales efforts outside of LinkedIn.
I discover that my profile has an email address that I no longer use and removed it. Looking at the endorsement file, I have 800 endorsements dating back to 2012. Opening this file in Excel makes it easier to review the information especially when I use the filter tool to sort endorsements by a person’s name. (The default is by date.)
Thanks to these files, I discover something important. I have a few hidden recommendations that I didn’t know about! Usually, I receive an email whenever a new recommendation comes in. Apparently, not for these.
According to the search queries file, I’ve performed almost 700 searches since 2013. That number is low because a lot of the queries I’ve done a couple of months ago don’t appear. (I remember because I was doing special research.)
After you request the archived data, it takes LinkedIn up to 72 hours to compile the data. It only took 24 hours. Once completed, you’ll receive an email with a download link to the zipped file. To protect your privacy, you have 72 hours to download it before the link is no longer available.
You’ll see the same spreadsheet files as shown in the first image shows. The image names and number of files will be different for you.
This is a complete list of all the possible files in the LinkedIn archived data. However, you won’t receive a file if it doesn’t apply to your account. For example, if you don’t have certifications, then that file won’t be included.
Review LinkedIn’s Accessing Your Account Data for the highlights of what’s covered when you download your LinkedIn Data, which includes the readme.txt. This lists the following items you might see in the archived data.
Account Status History: Time and date you created, closed or reopened your LinkedIn account.
Ad Targeting: Information LinkedIn uses to determine what ads to show you.
Ads Clicked: Ads you’ve clicked on.
Certifications: Certifications included in your profile.
Comments: Comments you’ve posted in LinkedIn other than in Groups. Each comment includes the date posted, URL of the comment, the item that you commented on and the item’s type of content (article, share, new job, etc.).
Connections: Your first degree connections.
Courses: Courses you’ve included in your profile.
Education: Schools included in your profile, the dates attended, degrees earned and activities.
Email Addresses: All the email addresses you’ve used on LinkedIn, the date added and the date removed. It also notes the primary address you currently use to receive LinkedIn communications.
Endorsement Info: Names of people who have endorsed you, the skills they endorsed and the date they gave the endorsement. It also shows whether you accepted endorsement and display it in your profile or if it’s hidden.
Group Comments: Comments you’ve posted in LinkedIn Groups along with the title of the discussion, name of the group and the URL of the discussion.
Group Likes: Your likes in LinkedIn Groups. Each like includes the date liked, title of the post, content of post (if available), type of post (article, share, new job, etc.) and URL of the post (if available).
Group Posts: Similar to comments except these are Group discussions you’ve started. This information includes post titles, the post, time of post, group name and URL to the post.
Honors: Honors in your profile along with the description, who gave it to you and the date.
Inbox: All the messages in your Messages, Sent, Archive and Trash (unemptied) folders. The file includes message dates, the messages, subject line and whether it was incoming or outgoing.
Languages: Languages you included in your profile along with the level of proficiency.
Likes: All your likes in LinkedIn other than in Groups. Each like includes the date liked, title of the post, content of post (if available), type of post (article, share, new job, etc.) and URL of the post (if available).
Login Attempts: Login history for your account including your computer’s IP address, country of origin based on IP address, user agent (typically a web browser), data of login and login type.
- Website Login: Signed in through LinkedIn’s website or its mobile app.
- Third Party Login: Signed in through another site, such as selecting “Login with LinkedIn” button on another website. Some people use social sign in to log into a website without creating a new account. Some sites offer LinkedIn as a social sign in option.
Mobile Applications: LinkedIn applications you’ve installed on your devices associated with your account and the date you installed them.
Name Changes: Any name changes, the date of the change and the language used.
Organizations: Organizations included in your profile along with a description, your position and how long you were there.
Patents: Patents you hold along with the issue date and filing number.
Phone Numbers: Phone numbers you’ve included in your LinkedIn account.
Photos: Images you’ve shared in LinkedIn. These appear in their original format, which could be .jpg, .png or .gif.
Positions: Jobs you’ve included in your profile along with the companies, titles, duties, locations and dates.
Profile: Biographical information in your profile.
Projects: Projects you’ve included in your profile along with the title, length of project, description and web address.
Publications: Publications in your profile.
Recommendations Given: Recommendations you’ve given along with the name of the person and the date you wrote it. It does not include the recommendation itself.
Recommendations Received: Recommendations you’ve received along with the names of the people giving the recommendation, the date they wrote it and whether it’s displayed in your profile. It does not include the recommendation itself.
Registration Info: Date you registered on LinkedIn, the IP address you registered from, your current subscription type and the member who invited you, if there was one.
Search Queries: Your recent LinkedIn searches.
Security Challenges: Challenge events, such as when you logged in from an unfamiliar computer or device and when you’ve used two-factor authentication to confirm your identity. Details include the date of the challenge, the IP address of your device or computer you used to log in, assumed country and type of challenge.
Shares: Your shares, re-shares and posts on items appearing on the home page, company pages and university pages. Data includes date, title, description, share visibility (private or public), link to images (if any) and URL.
Skills: Skills in your profile.
Items not included in archived data
Missing from this data is People You May Know and Who’s Viewed Your Profile. You also won’t see a list of people you’ve invited to connect, messages you’ve sent outside of groups or who liked and commented on your posts.
How to request an archive of your LinkedIn data
Here are the steps to request an archive of your data:
1. Move your cursor over your profile photo at the top right of your homepage and select “Privacy & Settings.”
2. Sign in, if prompted.
3. Select the “Account” tab near the bottom of the page.
4. Select “Request an archive of your data” under “Helpful Links”.
LinkedIn has become a valuable social selling tool for sales people. While VPs of sales typically don’t do the selling, you represent the company. Furthermore, clients and prospects will do a search online to learn more about you and your company before they connect. Your VP of sales LinkedIn profile is most likely to appear at the top of the search results.
While you may not control what digital property of yours appears at the top of search results, you can control what your LinkedIn profile says about you. Take this opportunity to use these tips to improve your VP of sales LinkedIn profile.
Begin with your summary
Because of its narrative style, the summary is one of the most read sections in your profile. This is where you tell your business story. It’s your best chance to attract interest. Sales people are known for being great storytellers. Ensure your summary does just that.
In the summary, show people who you are by sharing what’s important to you and what your goal is for your sales department. Some VPs of sales list achievements in beating sales quotas, some get personal in talking about the things they like to do when not at work, and some add a touch of humor.
Mike Chasteen, VP sales and marketing at Lanvera, has a short ‘n’ sweet summary. He opens: “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.”
He briefly states that he works to empower sales people and he’s an author. You can see what kind of experience he has in sales and he makes an impression with his short summary.
Another useful thing to include in your summary is what you’re looking to do with connections you meet on LinkedIn like David Cassady’s summary does. “I am on Linkedin to strengthen business relations and ensure customer success,” he writes.
Show how well you’re connected
Unless a person has more than 500 connections, LinkedIn lists how many connections you have in your profile. After 500, LinkedIn simply uses “500+,” so that’s the ideal number to target. For sales VPs, you should have no trouble making your number. Visitors to your LinkedIn profile will instantly know how well you connect with others.
They’ll also look for connections that have in common with you. So, it’s worth your time to connect with the right people. Ideal connections include your fellow executives, partners, key customers, employees, and influencers in your industry, such as editors and bloggers.
Support your experience with recommendations
Under the experience section, most LinkedIn users just outline what they do and their responsibilities. In reviewing many profiles of VP of sales, it turns out they’re thorough in sharing their experience, achievements, and more. No one stands out with an empty experience section.
Sales VP and teams live and die by their numbers, so it should be effortless to post results. Executives, clients and potential employees will want to know what you’ve accomplished. Ask yourself: As VP of sales, what results make me most proud? What outcomes did my sales team get for our company and customers?
Endorsements for skills are great, but recommendations are better. It takes more time and thought to write recommendations. Strengthen your experience by ensuring you have recommendations for your current and most recent positions. The most impressive recommendations come from customers, executives, and partners. Most people will agree to write one if you ask.
Better yet, most return the favor when you write recommendations for them. LinkedIn usually sends an email when people receive a new recommendation. That email also asks if the recipient wants to return the favor by writing a recommendation.
Get more exposure
Media — such as photos, videos, slideshows, and articles — balances a profile by adding color and visuals within all the text. To get more speaking engagements, add videos of your presenting.
Do you accept media interviews? Then, include articles with quotes from you. Have you written articles? Post those too.
Look past your connections
You may not know Bill Gates personally, but you can sort of connect with him by following him. The difference between following and connecting is that you’re not required to know the person or the company. Why bother? It’s an easy way to show who and what companies interest you. These include thought leaders in your industry, key partners, and important customers.
For example, a sales VP at a software company would follow respected influencers and experts in tech and software. These could be editors, journalists, and bloggers whose beats include tech topics or they work for a tech publication. Other thought leaders include industry analysts, tech consultants, CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, and sales VPs at other tech companies.
Don’t forget to follow company pages of clients, partners, publications, relevant professional organizations and complementary companies that would make good partners.
Find clients and influencers
LinkedIn Groups are valuable for connecting with people and forging relationships. It allows you to join up to 50 groups. Shoot for 20 at the very least.
So many groups. How to decide? Begin with the ones your customers join. Seek groups related to your industry and the type of work you do. A VP of sales at a software company with a target market of developers would look for groups related to software development and tech.
LinkedIn has almost 2 million groups. A quick search for the keywords “software development” produces 4,000 results! A VP of sales can get more specific by adding keywords related to the software product.
Since you already have some connection with the people in your alumni and favorite nonprofit organizations, join them.
Don’t miss a sales opportunity
Many LinkedIn profiles include a link to the company website, but not to other important resources. As a sales VP, you know people are more likely to buy from the people they know. Good links to include would be your company’s social media pages, blogs, FAQ, and other sources for more information about your company’s products or services.
You know buyers do the majority of their research before ever contacting the company. Help them by making it easy to find resources from your company. And it could lead to another sale.
What else can you do to boost your sales VP LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn Premium has just added some new features to visually boost paying members’ profiles and help them show up in more searches. Here is a round-up of the new features so you can supercharge your profile.
Stealing a page from Facebook’s book, the new visual features make members’ profiles more prominent. Members get an expanded profile header and a larger photo.
Another feature coming soon is the ability to use a custom background. If you want to be one of the first to try out the new background feature, submit a request to LinkedIn. Premium users also have access to an exclusive gallery of images to use for the background.
Get Found More with Keyword Suggestions
You’ve probably heard advice about optimizing your profile with keywords and phrases. It can be challenging to figure out what works for your experience. LinkedIn now provides personalized suggestions to help you find the best words to use so you show up in more searches. If you’re already using the most effective words, it’ll let you know.
Stand out in Search Results
When someone searches for your keywords, your profile will appear twice as big as others and display more information to help people notice you.
Expand Your Reach with Open Profile
LinkedIn Premium members who choose to make their profile “open” will be seen by everyone, including those outside of their network. Anyone will be able to contact the member for free regardless of the connection, or lack thereof.
Premium users can already see “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” for the past 90 days. LinkedIn enhanced this feature by sharing the top 100 results for How You Rank against your first-degree connections and company. This tool benchmarks your LinkedIn presence so you can see how you stack up against others.
Strengthen your profile and “findability” by taking advantage of these new features as soon as they’re available to you.
Are you getting the most out of groups on LinkedIn? If not, you’re missing out on a huge amount of information, updates, tips, and networking opportunities. LinkedIn groups provide a great platform where you can share ideas and engage in discussion with potentially hundreds of thousands of like-minded people. This can deliver an enormous boost to your B2B sales and marketing capability – you should take advantage of it.
Here are our top 5 blog posts on which groups to join and how to use them for B2B marketing and sales: