LinkedIn is for professional networking, but is your behavior there truly professional? Follow these five rules to be sure you’re not inadvertently violating the professional protocol for using the site.
With LinkedIn growing in popularity as a networking and publishing platform, it’s good policy to doublecheck your own behavior on the site as well as that of your firm’s staff. You’re well aware of the importance of having and enforcing a strong social media policy, but LinkedIn is a special case. As the only professional networking site, it has some unspoken rules that are distinct from the acceptable protocols of the more socially focused sites.
Of course you already know that professional networking requires a different standard of behavior, and both you and your staff pay attention to what and how you post on LinkedIn. Nobody at your firm posts personal pictures or party scenes or indulges in quasi-political rants on the site. But beyond those basics, there are some more subtle unspoken yet important points of etiquette that govern LinkedIn posting, or should.
It’s reasonable that some members of the team might not automatically know these rules, since they aren’t terribly obvious and especially considering that the very concept of “online etiquette” has only been around for a few years. With that in mind, take a look at these five rules for polite professional networking behavior designed to keep your online presence respected and respectful, as shared by Avtar Ram Singh in Social Media Today online. They make a lot of sense, and when you read them you’ll probably nod as you recall times you’ve been annoyed by contacts who violated them, sullying your LinkedIn experience.
- Post judiciously, not spasmodically. Those rapid-fire multiple postings that some are prone to on Facebook or other social networks are even less welcome on LinkedIn. It’s rude to dominate the newsfeeds of your followers, and besides, where’s the value in assaulting your audience with so many links? They have internet access themselves and can find such a wealth of articles with the click of a mouse. It’s better to share an occasional link with a bit of your own commentary to let readers know why you think it’s relevant or valuable.
- Posting pseudo-games and lame enticements is a form of spam. Yes, those cute little nothings that prove you are a genius, can spot a visual anomaly or love children/veterans/animals may be fun but they’re not professional. Please don’t encourage them with participation and for heaven’s sake don’t be the one who posts them on LinkedIn!
- Argue your points in a professional manner. Conversation is good. Differing opinions are legitimate and expressing them is valuable. Done well and respectfully, daring to buck the consensus can differentiate you professionally. Doing so rudely just makes you a schmuck, and it’s there for everyone to see until the end of time or the internet, whichever comes first.
- Syncing your social networks to LinkedIn is a bad idea. This fills the newsfeeds of your connections with your conversations, displacing more useful and desirable content. The practice is liable to lose you both connections and respect. Remember, anyone who wants to follow you on Twitter or Pinterest will do so on the appropriate platform. Please reserve LinkedIn for content you specifically select as valuable to your professional connections.
- Refrain from auto-posting. It’s fine to set up HootSuite or another tool that lets you schedule your posts. It’s not fine to convert your favorite RSS feed or website stream to an automatic series of posts on LinkedIn. Again, others can access the same feed if they want it, and you’ll be creating too much content that isn’t really yours. Post only what’s important, exceptionally interesting and professionally relevant, and do so with the addition of your own input, however brief.
Professionalism demands that you expend attention on what and how you decide to share in any context, including online. The best content is still inappropriate if shared in excess or thoughtlessly. Make the effort to discern which of your many content options will enhance your reputation as someone who consistently delivers useful, relevant and interesting posts on a regular but inoffensive basis, and you’ll have earned the right to feel confident in what you do decide to share on LinkedIn.