LinkedIn, with its popularity only increasing, is proving to be an excellent platform for professionals. Although at first, it started out as a mere networking tool it has grown into so much more than that. LinkedIn is now used for business development, marketing, recruitments, sales and more.
LinkedIn and other social media tools are especially great for startups because it gives these small companies an opportunity to make helpful connections and meet new people who can support their journey.
Despite the professional environment present on LinkedIn, it is all-too-easy for us to make some very unprofessional blunders and for startups, this can cost dearly. Here are some such mistakes to avoid:
- Overdoing the profile optimization
It is definitely a good idea to optimize your LinkedIn profile with keywords. But if you take to an extreme and over-optimize, it will just backfire on you and may even lead to people blocking you or reporting you.
Optimizing is nothing but using specific words that a potential client might use to search for companies like yours, so that your startup’s name may pop-up in the search results.
For instance, let’s say you are text-expansion tool startup when creating your profile you want to use words like ‘Text expansion’, ‘productivity’ etc., words relevant to the service that your startup is aiming to provide.
The problem is when you decide that more is better and you start dumping keywords all over your profile about a dozen times.
People also make the mistake of making multiple entries for the same position hoping to be discovered better by the prospects. These below-the-knee tactics just make you look very unprofessional and untrustworthy.
A better way is to identify a set of keywords and find ways to naturally and contextually include them in your profile.
- Pitching sales proposals to your new connections
Every time you make a new connection, don’t make the mistake of getting ahead of yourself. That is absolutely the fastest way to get yourself removed from their connections list.
LinkedIn, before anything, is a professional networking platform. Yes, it is possible to find new business opportunities and many people have, but that is only secondary.
Imagine a complete stranger sending a business proposal to you, right after you accept their connection request. Not only will this not fetch you results, but it might build a bad reputation around your startup.
A smarter way is to send a personalized message to the person and show a keen interest in getting to know them. In fact, take a step further and observe their online behavior, the articles they are sharing etc. to understand what they like and start a conversation on that.
After you build a relationship with them, if you see a business opportunity that can benefit you both, then pitch it subtly.
When you first reach out to them, also include a link to your website and your contact details, so that they can confirm if you are a trustworthy person, before responding.
- Thinking that your LinkedIn network is an email opt-in list
Here’s the rule of thumb – LinkedIn is not a platform where you can send promotional messages every week to all of your connections; that is completely inappropriate.
Too many marketers think of LinkedIn connections as an email opt-in list to send their promotional messages to. Indeed as a startup, you are looking for ways to boost yourself, but don’t do it at the cost of basic manners and trust me, it won’t fetch any results.
In fact, some people go as far as adding the email contacts of their connections to their blog’s subscriber list and start sending them weekly newsletters etc. This is a great way to spoil any chance of building a relationship with your connections and you may even get removed from their list.
When experimenting with this for my own startup Hiver, here’s what worked for me – send them a personalized message after or when you connect and place a link to your website and direct them there by asking for their opinion on your product/website/service. After checking out your website, if they are interested then they will opt-in for the emails themselves.
Additionally, it is not smart to force uninterested people onto your email list. It probably won’t lead to any conversions anyway.
- Not sending personalized connection requests
LinkedIn is a great place to connect with people for the first time. People are usually open to connecting with strangers on this platform.
But you could go terribly wrong if you start sending generic messages to get into people’s contact lists. It gives the impression that you haven’t taken the time to view the other person’s profile and that you don’t really care about getting to know them, but just about growing your connections number.
A smart thing to do is to take the time to see who the other person is, discover some common points between both of you and then compose a personalized message touching these points.
When trying to network on LinkedIn focus on quality over quantity. Quantity is going to fetch you nothing, but quality can help you make great connections.
- Not having a great company page
As the founder, it sure is important to have a well-crafted profile of your own on LinkedIn, but it is also important to have a great company page for your startup.
This is important because it is one easy way for people to understand who you are and verify your credibility. For example, when you reach out to a new person, by giving them a chance to get to know what you via the company page, you are helping them make a more informed decision.
Also, people will readily connect with you when you have a legitimate company page, rather than with a lone guy who claims to be the founder of some non-existent company.
Many of us are very eager to use LinkedIn as a business development tool and by avoiding unprofessional blunders we can find excellent business opportunities and make great connections via this platform.