Are you irritating your colleagues on LinkedIn?

Are you irritating your colleagues on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is my favorite social media platform. That usually means my results on those “How Much Would Ron Swanson Hate You” or “Which Muppet Is Your Spirit Animal” quizzes skew toward the,um…dry.

I’m okay with that. I mean, there’s no foul in being boring after 35, right?

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, and as such, it can be a useful professional too. Whether you’re looking for a job, hiring an employee, or searching for a service provider, being able to  tap your network for information, references, referrals and, yes, gossip, can be fantastically helpful. Plus, it’s fun to see what your colleagues and peers are up to.

But the professional nature of LinkedIn means that while Facebook faux pas and Twitter transgressions can be forgiven (or better yet, hidden), LinkedIn mistakes can really make you look bad. Here are my top three LinkedIn pet peeves:

Stranger Requests

In my humble opinion, generic connection requests from people I don’t know are the most annoying behavior on LinkedIn. The value of a professional network is in knowing that I can tap it for genuine information. Connecting to people you don’t know, and have no specific intention of getting to know, degrades the network. So if we haven’t worked together, customize your request and tell me why we should! Otherwise, be prepared to have your account restricted for spamming.

Skill Padding

Because I genuinely know the people in my LinkedIn network, I have a pretty good idea of the skills my connections possess. And those they don’t. So when I see someone I know add a skill they don’t have, I cringe. If a mutual connection asks me about your editing skills and you’re not a good writer, it’s going to be awkward for all of us. Play it safe: don’t list any skills you wouldn’t be confident telling an interviewer you could do with a reasonable degree of expertise out of the gate.

Over Endorsing

There’s a lot of argument over the value of endorsements. Personally, I like them. It’s a quick way to see who I can contact to find out about someone’s skills, and let’s face it: getting them is a great ego boost! That said, if I didn’t use a specific skill in our work together, you shouldn’t endorse me for it. If you can’t give a concrete example of how well one of your contacts utilized one of his listed skills, don’t endorse. The flip side is also true: don’t accept endorsements from people who can’t genuinely testify to your expertise in that skill.

In short, treat LinkedIn as an extension of your professional self: if you wouldn’t do it in person, put it on your resume, or say it in an interview or reference letter, don’t do it on LinkedIn.

Do you have any pet peeves to add to the list?

*Oh, and in case you don’t know me well enough to have guessed: Ron Swanson would grudgingly respect me, and Oscar the Grouch is my Muppet doppelganger.

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