How to behave on LinkedIn

Posted by Faye on April 8, 2012 in The Social Networks |

5 LinkedIn etiquette tips

I think it’s time for a long overdue talk on the topic of manners — specifically in the social networks, and LinkedIn in particular.

I’m on LinkedIn most of the day, so I see a lot of good and bad behavior. A majority of the time the good outweighs the bad. But there’s still that small percentage of peeps who just don’t know how to act properly.

So let’s review some guidelines on how to act when we’re on LinkedIn.

Network updates

How often is too often to post a status update?

Let’s just say that if  I see more than 10 updates from the same person before I have my second cup of coffee, you’re posting too much.

Tip: If you have to share an update more than once a day, consider spreading them out to avoid a “status update traffic jam.” And remember, quality is better than quantity.


You wouldn’t barge into a meeting of like-minded professionals having serious discussions about their industry to promote your blog or sell your products, would you? So why are you doing it on LinkedIn?

As a group manager I find there are many members who want to post their webinars, websites, resume services, scams, etc. in the discussion thread. Fortunately they have to come through me, and to maintain group order I move a lot of those posts under the promotions tab where they belong.

Tip: Group discussions are not the place for self-promotion. Either use the promotions area of the group, or check out LinkedIn’s ads, which allow you to target specific audiences without annoying them.

Discussions irrelevant to the target audience

I know you’re excited about sharing your newly-written blog post, but unless it’s a topic of interest to the group, it will most likely be moved to promotions; or worse — deleted. The group members joined this group to learn more about their industry, not your personal interests.

Tip: Keep in mind your audience when sharing content. Is it a topic that the group members expected to find when they joined the group? It’s always good idea to check the group rules first; and when in doubt, ask the group manager.

Adding connections to build your email list

There are a few people who have invited me to connect for the sole purpose of building their email list. How do I know this? Within a week of connecting I start receiving emails about their services.

I would be more willing to continue receiving your emails if you had just come right out and asked me if I’d like to subscribe; instead of covertly adding me to your list.

Tip: Don’t build your network with the goal of spamming people. Always ask before adding someone to your email list. Besides, the CAN-SPAM Act requires it.

Impersonal invitations to connect

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

That’s the default comment when inviting others to connect on LinkedIn. But seriously, have we really come to this? Robotic invitations? Can’t we take the extra 30 seconds to craft something more personal?

An invitation like this says “I’d rather just add you than talk to you.”

Tip: Something as simple as a personalized message will go far in building relationships. After all, isn’t that what the social networks are all about – building relationships?

You’re up –

What are some other annoying and/or rude behaviors you’ve observed on LinkedIn? I’d love to hear your comments.

And check out this video: “Don’t Be ‘That Guy’ on LinkedIn” for more tips on how to behave on LinkedIn!






  • Rebecca O. says:

    Thanks for sharing great LinkedIn tips!

    I’m embarrassed to say that I caught a seasoned professional using LinkedIn to get dates. The individual would connect with young PR pros on LinkedIn and then send unprofessional messages to their personal email accounts. Needless to say, I sent a nice note to this individual. I’m amazed that professionals would utilize a professional network for such unprofessional behavior!


    • Faye says:

      Rebecca, thanks for your comments.

      I must say, your story tops all of my LinkedIn stories put together! Yes, there will always be those who troll the social networks as if they were dating sites. If nothing else, they make for great stories and blog posts :D

      Thanks again for reading, Rebecca!

  • Thanks for the tips, Faye! I’ve heard some creepy things Rebecca, but this one takes the prize!

    What do you think about using LinkedIn messages instead of their email to communicate insights, info, etc. so long as the message is personalized, the topic relevant to the recipients and it’s a once in a while event? Any suggestions?

    • Faye says:

      You’re welcome Larry!

      I don’t see anything wrong with an occasional message to your connections. I’ve been on the receiving end of many of those. I’ve also been on the receiving end of some people’s messages who are trying to sell me something, sign up for a webinar, etc. In which case that is not acceptable.

      But I think groups are best for communicating your insights, thoughts, opinions, etc. on topics, because they offer more opportunities for others to participate in the discussion; rather than your selected recipients. Group discussions also give you an opportunity to present yourself as a thought-leader on a given topic.

      I wrote a previous post on the topic of groups…check it out.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting Larry!

  • […] post was inspired by Faye’s LinkedIn etiquette post. Check it out and learn how to be on your best LinkedIn behavior.  Like this:LikeBe the first […]

  • Bob Waldo says:

    I really have a pet peeve with the issue of “impersonal invitations”. I’m not an open networker, as I just don’t personally see the value in collecting irrelevant connections.

    I use LinkedIn primarily as a means to connect with others in my industry in order to help each other out. I even have it posted in my profile that if you at least take the time to write something personal in your invitation to connect, I’ll likely accept your invitation, regardless of my personal preference with regard to a business relevance of being connected. It tells me that at least you’ve taken the time to review my profile, and get to know the person you’re connected with.

    If this small amount of diligence isn’t applied when “networking”, then why bother? Just take your local telephone book and claim that the hundreds of thousands of people listed there are your “trusted network”.

    Just one networker’s rant and viewpoint on the issue. YMMV.


    • Faye says:

      TOTALLY agree Bob, thanks for your comments. I think my blog post was somewhat of a rant as well! It’s probably safe to say that the people who lack interpersonal communication skills offline are the same ones who don’t know how to network online.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  • Alison Gilbert says:

    I received a message on LinkedIn. It is the type that I have gotten previously. But this time I had had enough. It was from someone I did not know. It was not addresses to me personally. It was clearly a promotional blast, spam, whatever you want to call it.

    I responded to the sender by coming out bluntly and saying I did not appreciate being spammed and to remove me from his list and I would do the same.

    I then got a PERSONAL email from this person basically saying, ‘WHATTTTT FFFFF this is a NETWORKING business website wake up or get off. PERIOD’, followed by about 50 exclamation points.

    How would you handle this? Where on LinkedIn can I find their policy about spammed, unsolicited promotions for someone’s business? I feel like contacting the company to get this person fired. But the whole company may be equally as ignorant and obnoxious.

    I appreciate whatever advice you can provide. I am shocked and disgusted by this person’s behavior.

  • Faye says:

    Hi Alison,

    If the message came from someone who isn’t one of your 1st degree connections, they either have a premium membership or you share a group with them. It also might have come from a group manager, because they have the capability of sending messages to everyone in the group.

    If it came through your inbox, LinkedIn tells you how you are connected – and odds are it’s probably from someone you share a group with.

    I would suggest going to the Learning Center (Go to the drop-down under More –> Learning Center). Click on “Customer Service” to the left. LinkedIn provides a search bar to see if you can find the answer to your question before you contact them. I typed in “spam emails” and got a list of answers, including a helpful one called “Possible Fraudulent Email.” Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/JXBzdK

    Good luck Alison. Let me know if that helps.

  • CeeJayLouis™ says:

    Faye, one question I’d like answered is, “How detailed should your profile be?” I currently have a majority of my professional experience on my profile (worth noting), but they total 7 at this point, so I’m wondering if there should be a limit.

    • Faye says:

      Hi CeeJay,

      I would suggest summarizing the highlights of your accomplishments for each position you held. You can save the specifics for your resume. I don’t think you should limit yourself if you’ve accomplished a lot. I know the professional career coaches recommend you don’t put anything on your profile that “ages” you, especially if you are older (for example the years you graduated high school or college). If you are in the job market and looking for specific positions, I would leave off anything that would be irrelevant to the jobs you are seeking.

      I hope that helps. Thank you for commenting on my blog post!

  • adam says:

    This whole professional world moves because there is someone selling and there is someone buying something. Even Linkedin is selling something and they have advertisements.
    Majority of our whole existence and dreams are dependent on goods & services which are being sold to us. I do not mind if someone aquaints me with a product which can add value to my life. What is irritating are the fraudulent products or scam.
    Every second of my life I am consuming something which I have bought that someone sold to me.
    I am not going to complain at all.

    • Faye says:

      Hi Adam, yes you are right, many people are selling things on LinkedIn. I expect the ads to be there because they allow me to enjoy the site for free. And I don’t mind an occasional pitch for something, as long as I’m not being rudely interrupted.

      In the professional world there’s a right way and a wrong way to pitch your products. Disrupting a discussion group to promote something is the wrong way to do it. I try to think about how this would play out face to face. If you are chatting with a group of people at a professional networking event, and someone comes up to your group passing out business cards and shilling his products, it would be annoying. I think that’s why LinkedIn has designated tabs for discussions, promotions, and jobs within its groups.

      Thank you for reading and sharing your perspective Adam!

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