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Avoid these common LinkedIn mistakes to build your personal brand



You’ve created a dynamic LinkedIn profile. You’ve updated your past jobs, triple-checked for typos, and uploaded a photo that’s a far better choice than the awkward selfie you used to have in its place.

With your profile in good shape, it’s time to start building and strengthening your network with purpose. But before you get too excited and start connecting with everyone, make sure you know how to reach out the right way – that means not making these six insanely common mistakes.

1. Not Personalizing the Invite Message

When you click “connect” on someone’s profile, the default message will likely say: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” That may be fine if you’re inviting a good friend, but sending that standard line should not be your go-to approach for connecting with a person you don’t already have a history with.

Sending a personalized, polite message that briefly explains your reasons for connecting is a must.

2. Inviting People to Connect on Your Phone

The mobile app’s default invitation doesn’t present you with a customized option before sending; fortunately, there’s a simple solution.

In the top right corner of the member’s profile, select the menu icon that has three small squares. Then tap “Personalize Invite,” enter your message, and hit “Send Invitation.”

And while we’re on the topic of connection requests, it’s worth pointing out that invites sent from the “People You May Know” feature in the app can’t be personalized, so if you care about reaching out to those people with a non-generic invite, wait until you’re at your computer.

3. Asking for Too Much From a Stranger

There’s nothing worse than accepting an invite and getting hit with a huge request. So, when someone connects with you, don’t be that person who quickly asks for a job or launches into a sales pitch.

If you’re looking for career advice, request an informational interview. If you reach out to people in a polite, kind, and respectful way, you’ll probably hear back. No one owes you a response, so make sure you don’t come across as entitled.

Try not to think only of what connecting can do for you but also how you can add value to the other person. Regardless of where you’re at in your career, you can find ways to help others.

4. Not Customizing Your Headline

Your headline is one of the first things people see when they receive a request. A good one briefly explains what you currently do and what you want to be doing (if those aren’t the same).

So, instead of defaulting to a job title such as marketing manager, add a bit more, like this:

» Social Media Expert Seeking Nonprofit Opportunities

» Experienced Writer Creating Content for Fortune 500 Companies

» Econ Major and Aspiring Financial Analyst

Use keywords that make it easy for others to find you. You can identify the best options by reviewing job descriptions in your industry.

5. Failing to Follow Up

You know how they say that Rome wasn’t built in a day? Well, the same goes with relationships. Don’t forget to follow up! If someone helped you get an interview or made an introduction, circle back with an update. People love to hear how they’ve been helpful.

The goal when connecting is not to collect as many contacts as possible. Simply sending an update takes little time and thought, but it’s worth the investment. Quality is more important than quantity.

6. Not Using the Alumni Tool

The Alumni tool is one of the most underutilized features. You can access it by clicking on the LinkedIn homepage, hovering over “My Network,” then selecting “Find Alumni.”

From there, you can perform a search for individuals who attended your school. You can filter by location, company, job function, major, skills, graduation date, and more.

Once you’ve selected the appropriate filters, you can view profiles and send a message to someone you could imagine having a conversation with. You could ask to set up an informational interview, or even just to connect online, and maybe send some questions over email.

Whether you’re looking for a new job or trying to get better at your current one, syncing up with the right people can help you accomplish your goals. By avoiding these six mistakes, and learning how to effectively reach out, you’ll be well on your way to building meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships that’ll transform your career.

Vine’s demise a good thing for Twitter

Last week, Twitter announced it is closing down Vine, the company’s beloved six-second video app and standalone social network it purchased in 2012 for $30 million.

Across the Internet, the shuttering feels momentous — the end of yet another vibrant and truly weird pocket of the web. On Twitter, the memorials began almost immediately as timelines transformed into an ad-hoc “Best of Vine” clip show, the implied consensus being: Why would Twitter do this?

But, sad as it may be, the death of Vine reveals what Twitter’s most devoted users have known for years, and it suggests that the company sees it now, too: Twitter is, first and foremost, about current events. For lack of a better term, it is a news service. And with 318 million reporters all updating it every month, it’s the biggest one in the world.

Vine has always been a unique, diverse, and above all else peculiar social network — a creative, often-inscrutable sandbox that launched substantial careers and invented its own brand of celebrity. For years, it was teeming with teens; perhaps the best window into their strange, bored, often hilarious suburban lives.

Vine’s six-second video constraint — like Twitter’s 140-character limit — was responsible for some truly remarkable creativity from its best and most prolific users. Vine could be almost endlessly entertaining and joyful. One thing it wasn’t particularly good for, though, was news (perhaps ironic given that the most looped Vine ever captured the explosion at the Stade de France during the attacks on Paris). When it came to news, six seconds proved often too short a time to deliver necessary context (despite admirable experiments from outlets like NowThis to adapt the format). And while Vine often felt fresh, it wasn’t live. Twitter’s purchase of the livestreaming app Periscope, in March of 2015, seemed to confirm the company felt similarly.

For Twitter, live has a number of meanings, but almost all of them can be boiled down to newsworthiness. No platform can capture the world with the same kind of immediacy as Twitter. As Alex Kantrowitz wrote , Twitter has proven itself “the most significant social platform in the US presidential election,” as a place where news is both reported and made. In that respect, Twitter has never been more vital to news. It appears that the company now understands, and embraces, this.

MLB Mic | Chicago Cubs are World Champs after 108 years

After 108 years of waiting, the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series with a wild 8-7, 10-inning Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The triumph completed their climb back from a 3-1 Series deficit to claim their first championship since 1908.

A roller-coaster of emotions spilled out in a game that lasted almost five hours, featuring some wacky plays, a blown four-run lead, a 17-minute rain delay and some 10th inning heroics that sealed the deal.

It was a perfect ending for a franchise that had waited forever for just one championship. This is not a dream. The Cubs did it, and pulled an unlikely miracle. For that, The Cubs get a well-deserved Golden Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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