But ubiquity doesn’t necessarily imply intuitive best use. There’s something about the combination of “professional” and “social network” that confuses a lot of people. If working life were 1980s standup comedy, complaining about LinkedIn would be the “airplane food, amirite?” of hack observations.
The trouble is that simply being annoyed by other people’s behavior on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you fully understand the best way to conduct yourself when you’re using it. To keep from adding to the problem, try the following:
1. Be intentional about your invitations to connect.
No one likes to be spammed with blanket invitations, especially the kind with filler text. It’s like getting a mailer inviting RESIDENT to join the local bank branch. It doesn’t feel personal, so you just throw it in the trash.
Some experts will also tell you that you shouldn’t ask to connect with people you don’t know. That’s certainly the safe approach, but if you want to expand your circle, you can ask to connect with new folks … provided you give them some context for the request. Do you have a mutual acquaintance or interest? Now’s the time to mention it. In any case, personalizing your message will show that you’re specifically interested in connecting with this person, not just everyone in your field.
2. Turn off your activity feed.
“True story: I have a contact who starts a new job, on average, three times a week,” writes Sara McCord at The Muse. “OK, not a full-time role, but that’s about how often she adds a new side gig or freelancing role. I know this because I regularly get notifications asking if I’d like to congratulate her.”
McCord notes that this makes it look like she’s quitting jobs right and left. Not exactly the impression you want to make on recruiters or hiring managers.
If you’re going to update frequently, turn off your feed to avoid irritating your connections.
Why are people annoying on #LinkedIn? They're confused about how to be professional on social media.
3. Resist the urge to post memes, quizzes, and quotes.
What you find inspiring, others might find reminiscent of MySpace circa 2006. Save the flashy graphics and bizarre brainteasers for a less professionally oriented social network. It’s just not the place for it.
4. Help others before you ask for help.
Networking is about relationships. To be a good connection, you have to help others. That means not asking for recommendations for people you don’t know, and being willing to put yourself out there when your colleagues need a recommendation or endorsement. It also means taking the time to craft a recommendation that will really help your coworker or friend get the right kind of attention from hiring managers and recruiters.
In addition to being the right thing to do, helping others ensures that you’ll have strong connections to people who’ll be willing to help you when you need a lead on a new job.
Tell Us What You Think
What other annoying LinkedIn behaviors would you advise people to avoid? We want to hear from you! Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.