If you do these things, you are definitely not taking full advantage of this powerful tool.
I'm far from being a LinkedIn “Top Voice”, however, I'm proud of all the jobs and opportunities I've received via this corporate network (my last 3 full time jobs for example) and all the connections I cultivate.
   Yes! Here's the keyword: Connections! They are not friends, they are not colleagues, often they are not even acquaintances. They might be people I worked with, they might be suppliers, they might just be people who share the same profession and interests, or even people who maybe published something that the LinkedIn algorithm decided to show me and I liked it or something one of my existing connections liked and I thought it was interesting. It does not matter! Regardless of who it is, one theme is recurring: Not everyone knows how to use the powerful tool LinkedIn is.
   I had the chance to attend a great class given by consultancy LEK about how to build a better LinkedIn profile and learned some valuable tips, which I highly recommend you to look for them if you are interested in boosting your profile, however at this point I would like to talk about the missing human component - people acting like humans and evaluating profiles, before sending dozens of generic messages to all contacts.
In the last month, already thinking about this article, I evaluated all the messages I received.
   Just to put this in context, in case we're not connected and one of your connections liked my article, or the LinkedIn algorithm decided my article should appear in your feed, I'm a Procurement consultant, I work primarily with Strategic Sourcing (and all tools that are part of this methodology) aiming at optimizing the Supply Chain, whatever the focus may be, from cost reduction, to reducing the number of suppliers in the base, through risk mitigation. My main area of expertise is direct materials (mostly packaging and raw materials), however I also have experience with services and indirects. I have worked for Cosmetics, Pharmaceutical, Chemical, Kitchen & Batch, CPG, Automotive and Food & Beverage Industries. I work 100% remotely and I am geographically located in the Midwest of the United States.
   Well, in the last month I received more messages than usual due to my birthday. Some of the messages contained simple “Happy Birthday,” which I promptly thanked. Others carried deeper messages such as “Congratulations for being this wonderful adornment to the world!”. These messages I ignored. So, Tip #1: If you don't really know the person, haven't worked, or haven't had any contact, a "Happy Birthday" is more than enough. Anything beyond that feels forced.
   Tip #2: When initiating a connection or being accepted as a connection by someone, some professionals like to send a welcome message. I particularly find it unnecessary and somewhat arrogant to say “welcome to my network”. LinkedIn is an open network. But it's up to you. Whichever you choose, avoid messages like “Welcome dear friend” or “Hi friend”. Remember, LinkedIn forms connections, not friends.
   Tip #3: The most important of all!!! Before sending messages, especially if you are selling something, please review the profile of the person you are trying to reach. I understand that as a consultant, I work with multiple projects and companies from different segments at the same time, but even before I was a consultant, when I worked in a multinational in the Kitchen & Bathroom segment, I always received offers from suppliers of Chemicals, for example. Also, it's not uncommon for some of the vendors to send me messages saying, “I'm passing by your office and would like to invite you to lunch and see my product line” (remember, I work from home).
In purchasing, we always say that 80% of the time spent on a negotiation should be in the preparation phase. Only 20% of the negotiation time is what happens when we are in a face-to-face meeting with the supplier. Before that, 80% of the time, we buyers, study the supplier, its strengths and weaknesses, markets, what is our end-goal, etc.
Still in this line of suppliers that don't even spending time to evaluate their target audience, last week, believe it or not, I received an offer from a consultancy company offering me my own services. Imagine Mc Donalds offering hamburgers to Burger King - it is worth remembering that there are some situations in which companies from the same segment happen to merge or get together for a specific objective, but it is not the case for a small company like mine and so, I recommend a more “personal” approach, like reading out to try to understand the moment of my company and my clients, to see if your services are a good fit for something I might be in need of.
   Tip #4: This one goes directly to the suppliers: As a buyer, I need to understand what your company offers. Some vendors send messages like, "Let's set up a meeting so I can show you how to improve your business." As I read this message, I don't know if you are a Packaging, HR services, or consulting provider. Be specific, specially if it’s your “cold call”, meaning, if you never had any contact with me, I need to read your message and understand if we can work together somehow or not, or at least to understand if it makes sense a follow up discussion.
   Tip #5: The more details in your profile, the better! And I'm not just talking about your company's LinkedIn page. I’m talking about your own profile. I don't have the technical knowledge that the LEK team does, but basically, the more details, the easier it will be for LinkedIn's algorithms to connect similar professionals and opportunities. Plus, the easier it will be for recruiters to find you. I see a lot of people looking for new opportunities that put “seeking new opportunities” as their job title, and at this moment, I don't know if they are sales, purchasing or maintenance professionals. Huge mistake! Even if you are seeking for new opportunities, use the green ring option around your profile picture and add your most recent or the role you are interested on your role.
   Tip #6: This is a quick one, but also important. Avoid calling our your network, for example, I have connections, that start every publication with “Hello “In” “. No. This is a professional network. And if you want business or new opportunities, you need to come across as professionals. Follow influential people and check how they behave on the network, check what they publish, what they like, what they comment.
   And oh! Again, LinkedIn is not Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.. If you liked your new look at the office after a haircut, or if you're annoyed by the decor on the table next to yours, or even if you went out for drinks with your coworkers after long months of remote work, save these moments and photos for your Facebook. If somebody posted something you didn’t agree, simply scroll your screen down. You certainly won’t attract new opportunities by engaging in political or other “heat” topics discussions publicly via LinkedIn.
   Anyway, you can easily find articles on the internet about the “dos and don’ts”and how to upgrade your profile, what information to put and what to highlight. The point I want to make here, especially for vendors and people offering opportunities, is that please, don't act like a robot and send your message to 500 contacts just to hit your goal, but rather send it to 50 connections that can really help you and potentially bring you some return. As I’m always trying to reinforce, my motto is we need to work smarter, not harder!