10 Mistakes that drive other LinkedIn Users mad!

Posted on July 15, 2013. Filed under: linkedin advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Frustrated1. Inviting a complete stranger to connect.

Whilst I’m not a fan of LinkedIn’s mantra “only connect with people you know well” it is even worse to invite people with whom you have had no contact. This is the equivalent of going to a networking event and walking around the room shoving your business cards into people’s hands without even saying hello or introducing who you are! The key to successfully growing a network is to always engage in some manner before connecting.

2. Failing to personalise an invitation to connect.

There is nothing worse than receiving an invitation to connect (even from someone you know) that reads “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Everyone knows that this is the default message and therefore the person sending it has not bothered to give it any thought or consideration. A personalised message takes literally seconds to write and to not do so is just plain lazy!

3. Profile picture.

It is shocking to see how many people use inappropriate photographs for what is a professional networking site. Your picture is effectively your personal brand logo and is a critical part of your LinkedIn profile, It is almost certainly the first thing people notice and therefore creates that all-important first impression. Your photo should be an up-to-date close-up headshot, period. We do not need to see your partner, kids, pets or a slice of the face of the person next to you who you have attempted to crop out! Do not wear a hat or sunglasses and make sure the quality is clear. Avoid using ridiculous avatars or cartoons, they lack credibility and LinkedIn may suspend your account as this breaches the user agreement . The worst mistake of all however is to not have a profile picture at all, this will result in less profile views and more importantly it significantly damages your authenticity.

4. Anonymous visibility.

This is one privacy setting that everyone should change from the default. You can either be fully visible, largely anonymous (the default setting) or completely anonymous. The default setting makes no sense because you either want people to see that you have viewed their profile or you don’t, tempting their curiosity with a loose description such as “someone in the X function of the Y industry” is pointless! Deciding to be completely anonymous is also a strange decision, this is a networking environment so choosing this setting is effectively the same as going to an off-line event wearing a hoodie and mask! I can accept that there may be a rare occasion where it is clearly commercially unwise to reveal that you have viewed someone’s profile, in which case you can change your settings prior to viewing the profile and then change them back to fully visible again afterwards.

5. Direct selling.

Whilst it could be said that everyone is selling something on LinkedIn (even if it’s just themselves for that next career move), that doesn’t mean that this is a place to directly sell. There is nothing worse than accepting an invitation from somebody only to find that this is swiftly followed by numerous direct messages selling you the latest thing! This may be irritating for the recipient but it is far worse for the sender who is damaging their personal reputation as well as the company they work for and their chances of succeeding to sell anything this way are remote at best.

6. Inappropriate contact having not read somebody’s profile.

This is similar to the above but may not involve selling as such, receiving a direct message informing me about something that is not relevant to what I do or where I am based merely proves that the sender is blindly sending this message to many people without having read their profiles. I often hear from users who are tired of constant approaches by recruiters so they amend their headline to state that they are not interested in job opportunities…..and it doesn’t make the slightest difference, they still get as many approaches!

7. Lack of background information in profile.

We live in an information rich world and we expect to find it easy to gather information about people, places, products etc. When somebody views your profile they are doing so because they want to see more information about you (including your back story). So why would you deny them that opportunity by revealing little about yourself? LinkedIn is not a one way street, if you view somebody’s profile they are likely to view yours and this presents a great opportunity for you to be open and authentic and show them that you are the kind of person that they would wish to do business with. The more you reveal about your background the more likely it is that they will see you have something in common and this can only work in your favour.

8. Inactivity.

This is one of the most common mistakes I come across. Many users sign up, create a basic profile and maybe join a group or two and then…… nothing! This is the equivalent to going to a networking event and sitting in the corner with a cup of tea and not speaking to anyone! LinkedIn is a live and active community of business professionals throughout the world and this presents you with such an exciting opportunity to widen your network, engage with more people and ultimately achieve greater success.

9. Posting links without comment (especially in groups)

This is usually an innocent mistake made by people with the best intentions. They read an article online and decide to share this with their connections and/or fellow group members, the problem is that an article without a comment just becomes noise in a stream that people tend to ignore and the more this happens the more people become disengaged. This can also be as a result of one of the worst things you can do with social media…….. automation! Social media is supposed to be social (strangely enough!) and it is only effective when people talk to each other, not when automated processes fire countless streams of information/articles at people. The solution is very simple, read the article and take a view then post the article with a comment expressing your view and asking for feedback. This works, automation doesn’t.

10. Dodgy Recommendations.

Many online businesses have learnt that customer reviews are an incredibly powerful marketing tool (Amazon, Tripadvisor etc) and LinkedIn provides you with a similar opportunity via recommendations. The problem is that people obtain recommendations from the wrong people. A recommendation will only influence the reader if it is written by somebody that they consider to be credible and credibility comes from you knowing the person well and by them being in a position of authority i.e. a satisfied customer, and ex-boss etc. Too many recommendations on LinkedIn are from colleagues, family members or worst of all, complete strangers! One dodgy recommendation can ruin a profile, so be careful to only seek testimonials from the right people.

What other LinkedIn behaviours drive you mad?  please feel free to comment below.


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33 Responses to “10 Mistakes that drive other LinkedIn Users mad!”

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Hi Mark, I agree with a lot of this. However on point no. 2, I often use LI on my iPad and if I invite someone to connect the message I send is the standard message as there’s no option to personalise, so I think LinkedIn really need to help us out here.


Thanks Shaun, I totally agree and for that reason I recommend people only ever send an invite from Linkedin.com. Whilst I have the iPad app I rarely use it, partly because it constantly crashes but also due its limited functionality (invites being an example). I usually go to LinkedIn via a browser on my iPad.

I so agree Shaun. Linkedin should help us a little. I’m often on the go and sending invites via iPhone and iPad mean you have no editing option in the invitation text. I hope they will change it soon

Hi Mark, wouldn’t it be great if we could have the opposite of endorsements?

Seriously, I was directed to someone’s profile the other day. They had worked for me about 3 years ago. I did not even recognise their role and their achievements. That wasn’t what they were asked to do and it certainly wasn’t what they did do. Exactly the same with another person on the same assignment – they blatantly claimed to have done what I did. Which is odd as it was all set up by me before they arrived.

Now I think some people assume that because it is all in the open that there will be a certain level of honesty. LI would have considerably more power if there was an ‘are you sure about this’ button – not dissimilar to the ‘like’ button.

However, as it would be a commercial disincentive for LI, unlikely to happen. Ho hum.

Thanks Julia,
Nice idea but just imagine the potential for misuse and the arguments that would follow!

I prefer to make every connection invitation personalised. It does however, depend on what version of LinkedIn is used as to where I even get the opportunity to do so. My laptop version forces me to categorise a connection and then provides an opportunity to generate a personal message. My iPhone version pings an invitation as soon as I click the add button so I can’t generate a personal message at all. I could of course just refrain from using my iPhone version of LinkedIn but I assume everyone else has the same issues as me and will therefore be sympathetic when receiving my invites.
If anyone knows how to change the settings for the iPhone version of LinkedIn please advise us less able users.

Hi Jim,
There is no setting in the app to allow personalised invitations which is why I always recommend only sending invitations via LinkedIn.com (unless you are actually with them at the time). About 25% of LinkedIn use is via a mobile device so the majority of people you invite are unlikely to recognise the problem. I have no idea why LinkedIn decided to design it this way, the new LinkedIn Contacts app (which is in every other respect a really decent app) is exactly the same.

Interesting post Mark. I disagree slightly with your first point as I feel LinkedIn can be a great starting point for identifying and connecting with contacts that you have previously struggled to get hold off. Supporting your point though I do believe that you do your research these people before contacting – understand their background, the company and expalining why you would like to connect, which ties in with your 2nd point.

Something I find disappointing is the number of people looking to “date” on LinkedIn. I’ve received a number of inappropriate messages after someone has viewed my profile. It’s frustrating, especially when you think the message is from someone looking to network further.

Sorry to hear about that Amanda, I can see how that would be frustrating but in truth they are the ones who look silly and unprofessional. Maybe you should name and shame them!

One other personal “dislike” is the folks from whom you accept a connection invite, and then discover you can only view their connections that are shared, whereas they can see all of yours. There is a simple solution to this of course…

I know somebody on linkedin personally, who’s entire profile is a pack of lies. He posses few of the many skills and experience that he claims, education, etc. I don’t know how he gets away with it…but apparently he’s doing quite well and getting business. He also uses logos and trademarks that aren’t his either, endorses people’s services that he never used and others for services and skills they don’t even posses and gets away with. I take LinkedIn very non-seriously since realizing that he is probably not the minority on this site but the majority. He has become quite busy since doing this, although I personally know that he is incompetent in his current field as I worked with him. It is a sham. Too bad they don’t regulate it and penalize harshly those who lie by kicking them off the site permanently.

Thank you Ladean, that type of situation is annoying but thankfully very rare on LinkedIn. The reality is that people can put whatever they like in their profile but that doesn’t mean they will be successful. I am somewhat mystified that this person you describe has become ‘quite busy’ due to their profile….why would they be busy if they were incompetent? Your opinion of this person may well be very valid but it seems clear that others do not agree with you.

A linkedin behaviour that drives me mad: lots of endorsements all at once. If you aren’t too active on linkedin and you suddenly send me 6 skill endorsements, I figure you’re just trying to get me to get some activity on your profile for you. Do better: share a link, ask a question! A conversation will make you more appealing on linkedin. You’ll get better activity with more accuracy… because anyone can try to endorse you for anything!

Agreed. Well said Lyndsay!

Mark –
I’ve just spent probably 20 minutes on LinkedIn itself (and its Help Center) as well as general google searches (which is how I found you) trying to figure out how to customize an Invitation at all. I can’t find anybody (including you so far) that describes EXACTLY how to go about it. What I find instead are lots of comments on community forums about how it stinks that LinkedIn has taken this capability away. No matter how I go about trying to get to the point where I can send an invitation to someone (ie looking them up by name, general keyword searches, members of groups) there is no other button shown other than the “Connect” button and when you press that, it automatically sends the default text that apparently I chose years ago when I first signed up. I can’t even figure out a way to change the default text to at least something a little more meaningful..and unique… than “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network.”
(And I’m on the $29.95 level, so I’m even paying for a better level of features).

Can you please verify that you still have that capability here in August 2013, and if so, can you let us know PRECISELY how to go about those tasks? Some URLs to the key entry points to make the change would be incredibly helpful!


Hi Kevin,
Unless you have an account which is being used to beta test a new function (which is possible but unlikely) you should still be able to personalise an invitation. In order to do this you need to go to the profile of the person you wish to invite (on LinkedIn.com website) and click ‘connect’ this will take you through to a page where you will be asked to select a reason for the invite and then underneath that you will see a box including the dreaded words ‘I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’ – simply delete this line and add your own message.
Please note you can only personalise invitations by following the above procedure. Clicking on the ‘connect’ link in the ‘People You May Know’ section does not allow personalisation and neither does using a mobile app. The LinkedIn mobile apps have severely reduced functionality and should only be used for catching up with updates, news feeds and group comments. Activities such as searching, status updates and connecting should always be done online.
I hope that helps. I am happy to send you some screenshots if that is still not clear.


Mark, for me one of the big issues is that many people dip in and out of LI for long periods of time and therefore successfully getting to the people you want can be patchy. Many also use gmail type addresses as well rather than manage their email preferences to decide what emails they want and from whom the want them. DO you think if LI banned gmail type addresses and made it easy to stop communications from spam pests then it would encourage folk to use LI more responsible?

Its an interesting idea, I guess what you are saying is that the email someone uses as their primary address is often not their main email address and therefore they are not receiving or noticing notifications to entice them back onto LinkedIn. I personally haven’t experienced that problem and if there is an issue I’m not convinced it because they use Gmail or Hotmail they could do exactly the same with any email domain. The number of active users (unique visitors) would also suggest that this is not a widespread problem.

this blog linkedIn summary tips really helpful..

You are so cool! I do not suppose I’ve truly read a single thing like that before.
So nice to find someone with some genuine thoughts
on this subject. Really.. many thanks for starting this up.
This site is one thing that’s needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

Extremely good article and I am sure many of us have contravened at least one of the “rules”

Thanks for reminding us how to behave!

Outstanding article Mark

Great info. Lucky me I found your site by chance (stumbleupon).
I’ve saved it for later!

[…] Written by: Mark Williams Original link: 10 Mistakes That Drive Other LinkedIn Users Mad! […]

Why can we not see our photos besides the profile photo on a Computer or Smart Phone?
Let me be clear, if I am logged on with my computer I can see my photos and others when I am not logged on with computer you only see the profile photo.

Smart Phone Android, I can only see my profile photo and others profile photo only? / Is that normal on an android?

Hi Andreas,
I’m not sure I can help as I don’t have the Android app but I’m not entirely sure what you mean. Are you saying that profile photos are not visible on the app?

Profile photos are visible the other updated photos can only be seen on a computer when you are logged in to your account.
Is this the case for everyone?
I have a basic membership is that why?

All other photos I should of stated not updated. All photos uploaded on your profile.

Mark, send me an invite please if you wish / Andreas Georgiades Chicago Camel Guy / Chicago Fun Performer
I would like to private message you and also you can see as well, probably nothing is wrong.
do you see my email address on your end?
Andreas 815-600-6464 leave message if I do not answer and I will call you right back

Sorry Andreas, I’m still not with you.
‘All other photos’ refers to what? Apart from profile photos the only other photos in a profile would be ones loaded into the media section under summary, employment or edication. Is this what you mean?
When you state ‘only seen on a computer when logged into your account’ are you referring to viewing profiles via Google or some other external site? If you are not logged into LinkedIn you do not see a full profile you see a ‘public profile’ which for most users is pretty basic but even if they amend their settings to show more than just the basics you still don’t see media.
The solution is to not log out of LinkedIn, if you are browsing LinkedIn profiles via Google searching and are still logged into LinkedIn in a different tab you will see the full profile (up to 2nd tier).
If that doesn’t answer your question Andreas then it might be easier to discuss this on email with screenshots. My email is mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com

Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate yoou writing this article and the rest
of the site is also really good.

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