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5 LinkedIn Habits To Break In 2014

Implement these five easy changes to help you get noticed on LinkedIn and land your next opportunity.

How up to date is your LinkedIn profile? Do you keep in touch with your connections? Have you asked for recommendations lately?

If your LinkedIn activity was lacking last year, jumpstart 2014 by resolving to make a handful of quick changes to your profile and habits to get noticed, network more effectively, and increase the odds of landing a new job, LinkedIn career expert Nicole Williams said.

Here's a look at the five most-common LinkedIn faux pas and how to fix them for a more successful 2014.

1. Your profile picture is old.
"Because people are so accustomed to traditional resumes where you can't present yourself physically, you underestimate how important your profile picture is," Williams said. Start the new year off fresh and upload a new, current photo. Users who do are 11 times more likely to have their profile viewed, she said.

To update your profile picture, navigate to "Edit profile" and click the camera icon to the left of your name and current work details.

2. You use the boilerplate connection request.
It may be easier to send a user a request to connect using LinkedIn's standard "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn," but taking the time to personalize your invitation is more effective, Williams said. You want your message to be personal.

"Do some due diligence: Did you attend the same school? What do you have in common? Tell them why you're connecting with them. Is it because you're interested in learning more about their career? Are they in a comparable industry?" Williams said. "Never mention that you're looking for an interview or a mentorship -- keep it simple by saying you'd like to learn from them. Keep it very low-touch."

3. You don't maintain a relationship with your connections.
You've spent time growing your network, but when did you last reconnect? Your connections aren't as valuable to you unless you maintain and cultivate that relationship, Williams said.

[ Want to keep your job search private? Read 5 LinkedIn Privacy Settings For Job Hunters. ]

"Connect with someone you met at a conference and follow up with them," Williams said. "Give them a reference to remember who you are and ask them a simple question. You want to take these first-level connections and build them into more robust relationships where you can help them and they can help you."

4. You aren't active in groups.
With hundreds of thousands to choose from, LinkedIn's Groups are one of the site's most undervalued features, Williams said. "Search for groups where you can find active, inspiring people -- and they don't need to be related to your career, either," she said. "Belonging to groups outside your profession, like location-based networking groups or hobbies, gives others a fuller picture of who you are when they visit your profile."

Before you join a group, check out the group's statistics. You can find this by clicking the "i" button next to "Join." Below the "About" section, click "Group statistics." Here, you can browse the group demographics, growth, and activity to get a better sense of whether or not this group is a good fit for you.

5. You don't solicit recommendations.
While Endorsements, which let you vote up a connection's skill with a quick click, are easy to dole out and accumulate, they're not as valuable as a written recommendation, Williams said.

"When you ask someone for a recommendation, ask them to highlight a particular skill, such as management or your leadership skills," she said. "And consider asking for a recommendation while you're in the midst of a project working your tail off. That's when your hard work is freshest in their mind and they're more incented to do it."

Senior editor Kristin Burnham covers social media, social business, and IT leadership and careers for InformationWeek.com. Contact her at Kristin.Burnham@ubm.com or follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.

Can the trendy tech strategy of DevOps really bring peace between developers and IT operations -- and deliver faster, more reliable app creation and delivery? Also in the DevOps Challenge issue of InformationWeek: Execs charting digital business strategies can't afford to take Internet connectivity for granted.

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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 9:52:26 AM
LinkedIn endorsements vs. recs
Tip no. 5 is important. I think people will continue to put more value in recommendations than endorsements. Do you agree, hiring managers?
OtherJimDonahue
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OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/8/2014 | 10:22:40 AM
Endorsements
Laurianne-- Oh, LinkedIn "endorsements" are completely useless. Does anyone take them seriously? I think people collect them like Foursquare badges.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2014 | 11:00:35 AM
Re: Endorsements
@Jim I don't actively collect them. LI sets them up to come in automatically. It regularly asks members to endore their connections, and once you endorse one person, it will ask you to endorse another 4.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2014 | 1:47:47 PM
Re: Endorsements
I've all but stopped responding to endorcement messages. They come in so often that they are little more than noisy spam in my mailbox. Agreed that recommendations do and should continue to carry real weight.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 10:26:50 AM
Add volunteer work, too.
Another point Williams made: Add volunteer experience to your profile. Hiring managers find this valuable because "volunteers do real work -- it's not just stuffing gift bags," she said. Take credit for what you're doing, whether it's maintaining a website or helping a nonprofit in its marketing efforts. That work counts, too.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2014 | 11:13:00 AM
Re: Add volunteer work, too.
I think profile pictures on LinkedIn are very important. Not enough people realize this I think.

If you don't have a profile picture on LinkedIn it's like Facebook - if you don't have a picture there, it seems plain weird. 
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 11:07:36 AM
That boilerplate LinkedIn connection invite message
Under some circumstances, LinkedIn doesn't even give you the option of customizing the invite message - as soon as you click the button, your invite is sent. I haven't quite figured out the rules for where you do and do not get that option to customize, but it seems like from some of the "recommended contact" lists and search results, the invite gets sent before you have a chance to customize the message (assuming you wanted to). Invites sent from the mobile app also go out with the generic intro message.

I think the only sure way to get the option to customize is to navigate to the other person's profile page before clicking the connection request button.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 11:52:53 AM
Re: That boilerplate LinkedIn connection invite message
I navigate to the profile page to make sure I get an option to send a real message. Unless it's someone I work so closely with that it's a "d'oh, how are we not connected?" kind of request, then I let the automated one fly.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 12:01:28 PM
Re: That boilerplate LinkedIn connection invite message
That's more or less my approach. I do think the UI could give people more clues about how this works.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 2:37:09 PM
Re: That boilerplate LinkedIn connection invite message
You're right -- it is finicky about when it lets you customize the message, and it should be streamlined. That said, I'm more likely to accept a request to connect with someone I don't know who takes time to personalize it over someone who sends the boilerplate message.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2014 | 4:32:23 PM
All bets are off
If using LI was not pay to play, these suggestions would work fine, but the thing is, members pay for the privilege of having their profiles moved up the queue to the front/center of employers. That is hardly fair or objective to the millions of jobseekers who are under/unemployed, not to mention those with the spare jack are not necessarily the best candidates. Nick Corcodilos explains LIs pay to play scheme here. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2013/08/ask-the-headhunter-is-linkedin.html
felixlgriffin
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felixlgriffin,
User Rank: Strategist
1/9/2014 | 11:08:55 AM
3. You Have To Cultivate Relationships.
RE: Key is #3. "You don't maintain a relationship with your connections."

Kristen, you hit it dead on with #3.  You Have To Cultivate Relationships. So your picture is professional and current, you took it just after Christmas.. Great. But you have to build your "brand" and engage your network. Post regularly and stay relevant.  If you've taken the time to grow your network, but you don't stay connected or active, then you you basically have an online rolodex.

 Grow your network and Get to know your network. My Motto "Be Social".

One thing I make a rule to do is to send every person a "Thank you / Welcome" message and to endorse them at some point. Another thing is that I personalize it and I don't send it right away. I don't want them to think I'm a robot and I have an auto-responder connected to my profile. I want them to honestly know that they have juct connected to me. Not just a profile.

 

"Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Learn to appreciate life, and you'll find that you'll have more of it." ~ Felix L. Griffin, LinkedIn
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/10/2014 | 9:15:02 AM
Re: 3. You Have To Cultivate Relationships.
The thank-you/welcome message is a nice touch. Endorsements are a popular topic -- some people love them and others hate them. Do you endorse everyone you connect to, or only certain people? How do you make the distinction?
felixlgriffin
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felixlgriffin,
User Rank: Strategist
1/10/2014 | 9:37:04 AM
Re: 3. You Have To Cultivate Relationships.
I don't endorse everyone I connect with on LinkedIn. I try to endorse those who I personally know and have a good business relationship with. To endorse on LinkedIn is to me as a "Like" on Facebook. I put more stock in recommendations.
MichaelD186
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MichaelD186,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2014 | 4:40:36 AM
LinkedIn
I agree with 1-4. Nothing is worse that receiving a generic request, especially from someone outside my industry or area.

Not so sure I agree with 5. I have had a person request a reccomendation. I was happy to do it, because I know their work reasonably well. Trolling for recommendations seems a bit desperate. I always try to write reccomendations for those I have a real life connection. 
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