Using LinkedIn can be similar to online dating. Only the people creeping your profile are your current and future investors, employees, customers and colleagues. And, yes, just like on dating sites, first impressions mean everything.
Like it or not, people will harshly judge you by how slick your profile appears. If the life is sucked out of it by a cruddy headshot or outdated, boring or skimpy information, you could miss out on more than a few potentially career-boosting connections. You might also dent your reputation and scare off business.
Here we take a look at three common LinkedIn profile blunders and how you can avoid them -- or fix them immediately if you've already gone there.
Mistake 1: Having an unprofessional or awkward profile picture. Or not having one at all.
If your profile picture is of your labradoodle, you're not doing your personal brand any favors. That is unless you're a dog walker or a veterinarian. Also not quite professional enough for LinkedIn are images of your kids, gaming avatars and superheroes.
LinkedIn is for professionals. Save those images for your personal Facebook page.
Perhaps the worst LinkedIn profile pic faux pas is failing to post one at all. Putting a face to a name helps to establish trust. Not showing your face sells your personal brand short and even can make you appear sketchy.
Related: What You Need to Do on LinkedIn, Even if You're Not Looking for a Job (Infographic)
Solution: Post a headshot of yourself that draws people in.
Put your best face forward with a crisp, high-resolution headshot that looks close to how you look right now. Throwback Thursday high school yearbook shots not welcome.
Also, don't use your company logo for your personal profile page. Save that for your LinkedIn company page.
Don't dampen your personal brand by posting an out-of-focus selfie snapped with your Droid. Invest in a top-notch, professionally taken mug shot -- one that you look friendly and approachable in.
According to LinkedIn's Help Center, the perfect size for your profile picture is between 200 x 200 pixels and 500 x 500 pixels. If the image's height or width is larger than 4,000 pixels, it won't upload.
Mistake 2: Not having any recommendations.
It's appropriate -- even critical -- to point out your skills, abilities and accolades throughout your profile's Experience section. That's what it's for.
Some would argue, though, that it's even more important to have some of your current and past colleagues, partners and employees personally herald your accomplishments via LinkedIn's Recommendations section. If you've amassed zero Recommendations, it could look like no one is willing to professionally vouch for you.
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Solution: Solicit solid recommendations from people you've worked with before.
Ask two or three people you've successfully done or are currently doing business with to write a positive, compelling recommendation for you. Let them know you're seeking their sincere testimonials to qualify and lend value to the claims you make on LinkedIn about your career experience, skill sets and specialties.
LinkedIn provides detailed instructions on how to request a recommendation.
Mistake 3: Not adding live links to your work history.
Live links to your online career footprint are essentially samples of your work. They're telling tastes of your personal brand for people to check out when they cruise your profile. If you don't add them, you're merely telling people what you do, not showing them. Seeing is believing.
Solution: Link to online samples of your work.
If you're a tech journalist (ahem, like someone we know), for example, you'd want to add links to your best articles for each publication you write or have written for. Each link should clearly demonstrate that you do indeed do what you say you do and that you do it darn well.
Or, if you own your own business, you could easily flesh out your company Experience section by adding relevant links to your business's main website, blog, online store, Yelp page and CrunchBase www.crunchbase.com profile.
You can also upload image, video, audio, document and presentation files to your LinkedIn Experience sections to further showcase examples of your work.
Go ahead and show off. This is one time when it's okay to do it.
Related: Want to Supersize Your LinkedIn Page? Focus on the 3 C's