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16 LinkedIn Mistakes You Need to Stop Making

Brittney Morgan
Brittney Morgan

Are you on LinkedIn? It doesn't matter whether you're a career veteran happy with your job or a college student looking for internships — you should definitely have a profile and an active presence on the site. The professional social network can be an invaluable tool in many ways, but only if you use it correctly.

With LinkedIn, you can connect with potential employers and employees, keep up with your company's competitors and stay up-to-date on industry trends. But if all you do is fill out your job title and invite everyone you come across, you could do more harm than good to your professional online presence. Instead, filling out your profile with important information (and a little personality), making thoughtful connections and actively participating in discussions and groups can take your career to a whole new level.

Career experts told Business News Daily the worst mistakes LinkedIn users can — and often do — make. Avoid these 16 major missteps and you're sure to be on your way to LinkedIn success.

Not writing your own summary

"Do not write your profile summary in the third person like your publicist wrote it. And if your publicist did write it, don't post it. Write something from you. That's what people want to hear about you." – Dan Fugardi, co-founder, Clout

Having a bad photo (or none at all)

"A profile with a picture has many more views than a profile without a picture. Further, many people will go to a networking event and then look to connect with someone they met on LinkedIn. It may be difficult to find you without a profile picture, especially if you have a common name. An equally bad mistake is having an unprofessional picture. Examples would be a picture where you are clearly sitting at a computer with bad lighting, at a party, or have cut someone out of a casual picture in order to put up a picture of yourself. Invest in a professional head shot." – Jennifer Robinson, CEO and founder, Purposeful Networking

Sending generic invitations

"LinkedIn is about networking, and your first impression is the invitation to connect. Give the invitee a reason why you are connecting, and never use LinkedIn’s generic invitation language. For example, [write], 'Sally, I noticed that we share two LinkedIn groups and your profile is impressive. I would like to add you to my network.'" – Michael O'Brien, president, ]

Using LinkedIn like Facebook

"Easily one of the biggest mistakes on LinkedIn is using it like it's Facebook. Your professional network does not care about what you had for dinner today; we don't want to see a meme or a photo IQ test. If you're going to post something, make sure it's relevant to your occupation and, most importantly, is professional." – Chris Bryant, creative director and principal, Empire Studios

Not updating your profile enough

"The biggest mistake people can make with LinkedIn is only updating it when you're looking for a job. That way, any activity that appears on the feeds of your colleagues and your boss will make it seem to them that you're looking for another job. If you're active on the site and share other things as well, your other activity will blend into the mix better." – Danny Groner, manager of blogger partnerships and outreach, Shutterstock

Being inconsistent

"Your professional résumé and professional profile on LinkedIn should tell the same career journey — it's all about consistency in building and relaying your personal brand. Too often, I see clients where their résumé and LinkedIn profile leave me with questions as to which document is accurate. I’ve seen conflicts between employer names, job titles and employment dates." – Brenda Collard-Mills, owner, Robust Resumes and Resources

Posting negative comments

"LinkedIn should never be used to criticize an employer or potential employer, even if you were just fired or didn't get the role you were interviewing for. Nobody wants a sore loser on their team, especially one who makes it public for all their followers to see." – Emilie Mecklenborg, social media strategist, Alexander Mann Solutions

Misusing LinkedIn's blogging platform

"[The blogging platform] is a fabulous tool for people who want to develop themselves as thought leaders or influencers. What it's not is another place to post a link to an article or advertise whatever your business or service is. Since LinkedIn opened the platform to everyone, I’ve seen a lot of misuse." – Joanne Tombrakos, founder and chief storyteller, JT International

Not using keywords

"The biggest mistake that professionals make on LinkedIn is not [having] a keyword-focused and accomplishment-based summary, headline and job descriptions. They don't think of LinkedIn as a search engine and simply copy and paste their résumé, instead of identifying the keywords and skills that recruiters and hiring managers are using to find candidates on the platform. These keywords allow for your profile to be found more easily and can attract new opportunities." – Emmelie De La Cruz, personal branding strategist and founder, The Branding Muse

Not building relationships before asking for favors

"Often, job seekers appear desperate by spamming other LinkedIn members that they don't know to ask them for a job. What they should do instead is participate in groups and start to build relationships with group members. It's best to build relationships with people before asking them for something." – Cheryl Palmer, owner, Call to Career

Not asking for recommendations

"[A] mistake a lot of people make is not asking for recommendations. This is a huge missed opportunity. Having professional recommendations — [but] not [from] your mom, best friend or spouse — on your LinkedIn profile increases your credibility. If you have a positive experience with a client or supervisor, ask them to recommend you on LinkedIn. You can send a message directly through LinkedIn, although I recommend you customize your message, rather than using the template provided by LinkedIn. Explain the reasons you are asking for a recommendation and offer to reciprocate and recommend the other individual in return. Be sure to follow through if you make this commitment." – Samantha Reynolds, communications coordinator, A Plus Benefits

Pitching connections as soon as they accept your request

"It is a mistake to connect [with someone] and immediately start talking about how you think they should try your products and services. I have a popular LinkedIn profile, and I get pitched at least a couple of times per day. I automatically delete all pitches if they have not taken the time to build trust and rapport with me, so they've lost my business before they've even had it." –Mirna Bard, founder and consultant, Digital Marketer's Toolbox

Stalking users' profiles

"LinkedIn users can see people who visited their profile. If you're viewing the profile of a recruiter or hiring manager on a daily basis, you're going to come off as creepy. Either turn this setting off to block others from seeing when you visit them, or take a screenshot of their profile so you don't have to keep going back to it." –John Boese, founder, EliteHired

Connecting with everyone

"Quality is definitely more important than quantity when it comes to LinkedIn. Adding everyone and anyone to your network as a connection isn't going to give you an edge. Build your network with people you know, want to know and want to work with or for. Don't accept everyone that requests you solely to increase the connections on your network." – Samantha Lambert, director of human resources, Blue Fountain Media

Not interacting with others

"I constantly see people fail to personalize their applications. They either wait for recruiters to find them or apply to job postings cold, without ever stopping to think about how they can use the platform to connect with people that can help them. There's an "If you build it, they will come" mentality, where people assume that just because they have a profile or just because they submit a résumé that they will get a job. LinkedIn is a social platform, so to ignore the people on it is really selling yourself short." – Nick Fox, career coach,

Using buzzwords

"Utilizing overused buzzwords — such as 'motivated,' 'creative,' 'passionate' and 'driven' — is another common LinkedIn mistake. For example, saying that you are a motivated or creative individual won't help you stand out from the many other job seekers saying the same thing. It also doesn't prove that it's true. It's more effective to show, not tell, the traits behind these buzzwords. For example, if you want people to believe you are a creative individual, write about the accomplishments that highlight your creativity. It also can't hurt to ask for recommendations from your connections that focus on the adjective you want to highlight." – Lisa Carver, managing director, The Execu|Search Group

Image Credit: Ingvar Bjork/Shutterstock
Brittney Morgan
Brittney Morgan
Business News Daily Staff
Brittney Q. Morgan is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor, as well as a graduate of Drew University, where she majored in History. Her work can be found all across the web at Apartment Therapy, HuffPost, and more. You can also find her on Twitter at @brittneyplz.