When it comes to your online presence and your LinkedIn profile in particular, for years, I’ve been telling professionals: “Brand or be branded.”

In my opinion when you fail to create a compelling LinkedIn profile, you are basically telling the professional world one or more of the following:

A) You aren’t tech-savvy enough to know how to use social media
B) You don’t have any truly notable accomplishments
C) You have something to hide.

Every year I speak with thousands of business owners on the topic of LinkedIn and I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who believe that having their name and job title up to date is enough to merit a presence in social media.

Whilst I’ve seen every mistake possible, there are 5 that are most common across the board regardless of age, location or industry.

Anyone of these mistakes could turn your LinkedIn profile into a major professional liability. So here’s how to identify them–and get them fixed:

1. No plan

Building a solid foundation is the backbone to being successful and all of that starts by having a plan.

You wouldn’t build a house without first laying the foundation or framework, right? Well, developing an effective LinkedIn campaign is no different. If you don’t have a plan, any road will get you there right?

Before designing your profile or building your network, get crystal clear on what you’re looking to achieve on LinkedIn and how that fits in with helping you achieve your marketing objectives over the next 3, 6 to 12 months.

In turn, this will help you identify who you need to connect with in order to meet those objectives.

2. Add value

Nobody and I really mean nobody likes to feel like they are being ‘sold to’. Hammering your new connections’ inbox with messages about your product and services straight away is not going to win you any friends … or customers for that matter.

The clue is in the title …

Social media is meant to be exactly that – social. Ok, so LinkedIn is very much a professional and business based forum, but the underlying principle remains.

Before you start email marketing to your contacts, think of a few ways you could add value to them. This will help develop the trust and rapport necessary for them to be interested in what you have to say. Remember, to be interesting, you have to be interested.

3. Profile Photo

bad LinkedIn profile photo
You would never go to an in-person networking party naked, dressed in your dirty old sweat pants, or without any shoes.

Why? You want to make a good first impression.

Yet, failing to fully optimize your LinkedIn profile has the same effect online as coming to the party dressed wrong.

Studies show that people are seven times more likely to click on your LinkedIn profile if there’s a picture than if you don’t have one.

Your photo should be up-to-date, clear, professional, and an expression of you, preferably the smiling you.

If you are a casual guy, no one expects or wants to see you in a suit.

In a virtual world, we may do business with someone we have never met. The connection provided by a photo, especially when you can see the eyes and a warm reception can go a long way.

4. Personalizing Your Communication

A lot of LinkedIn users complain about the impersonal invitations they receive. When you connect to someone for the first time on LinkedIn, don’t just use the generic message option, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Take a few moments to write something personalized. It will make the recipient more open to your request and the message feel less spammy.

Personalizing your messages is important because it shows that your request is personal — that you didn’t just send out a mass connection request blindly to all of your contacts.

For example: “Hi Steve, I came across your profile earlier and thought I’d reach out given there may be some possible synergies between both our current activities. Would be good to connect. Alex”

5. Not Using It!! 

Seriously, the number of businesses who ignore the platform and don’t leverage it to its full capacity shocks me.

We’re talking about a platform that allows you to connect with millions of new potential customers, find new partners to help grow your organization, connect with the media to build your personal brand and even hire new staff.

With over 500 million members across 200 countries/territories and two new members joining per second there’s no other platform like it.

In my opinion, this is why LinkedIn is the most powerful marketing tool of the 21st century.

Want to learn more about LinkedIn? Download our FREE digital guide today and learn how you too can start using LinkedIn to generate a ton of media exposure, secure joint venture partnerships and build hundreds of new leads for your business. Over 18,000 businesses have now benefited from this methodology. Access it Here!